Friday, December 05, 2008

At Least Bush Kept Us Safe

Peggy Noonan has a wonderful article about national security in the Wall Street Journal:

Back to the Christmas gathering. There was no grousing about John McCain, and considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: "But he kept us safe." In the seven years since 9/11, there were no further attacks on American soil. This is an argument that's been around for a while but is newly re-emerging as the final argument for Mr. Bush: the one big thing he had to do after 9/11, the single thing he absolutely had to do, was keep it from happening again. And so far he has. It is unknown, and perhaps can't be known, whether this was fully due to the government's efforts, or the luck of the draw, or a combination of luck and effort. And it not only can't be fully known by the public, it can hardly be fully known by the players at all levels of government. They can't know, for instance, of a potential terrorist cell that didn't come together because of their efforts.

But the meme will likely linger. There's a rough justice with the American people. If a president presides over prosperity, whether he had anything to do with it or not, he gets the credit. If he has a recession, he gets the blame. The same with war, and terrorist attacks. We have not been attacked since 9/11. Someone—someones—did something right.

We received a reminder of the gravity of the situation this week, with the bipartisan congressional report saying the odds are high the world will see a biological or nuclear terror attack in the next five years. It said, "America's margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," and "the risk that radical Islamists—al Qaeda or Taliban—may gain access to nuclear material is real."

Why does Congress prepare such reports? To inform, and to win support for new plans. To show they are doing something. And to be able to say, in the event of calamity—forgive my cynicism—that they warned us. This hasn't been the first such report. It won't be the last. But it comes at a key moment for Mr. Obama, because it gives him a certain amount of cover to be serious about what needs to be done. What's at stake for him is two words. When Republicans say, in coming years, "At least Bush kept us safe," Democrats will not want tacked onto the end of that sentence, "unlike Obama."

That truly nails it. What we on the Right must make damned sure of is that we never, ever hope for such a calamity just to score political points off of Obama. The destruction of an American city isn't worth making political points over.


Home on the Range said...

Iran worries me. Iran's claims that its nuclear program is peaceful, claims that our upcoming administration seems to have taken at face value. Yet in addition to incredible coal and oil reserves that make nuclear energy not even necessary in the foreseeable future, Iran does not have enough indigenous uranium resources to fuel even one power-generating reactor over its lifetime. Oh, but it does have enough uranium to make several nuclear bombs.

We're going into frightening times and it's going to take more than lots of fluffy words and expensive suits to keep us safe.

sime0n said...

"The destruction of an American city isn't worth making political points over."

Such restraint! ps - Bush sat in a glazed stupor for nine minutes after being told, literally, that America was under attack. The Indonesian tsunami. The Iraq insurgency. Katrina. The economic meltdown. I could go on.

@brigid Fluffy words = misunderestimated, bring it on, mission accomplished, heck of a job.

Bob said...

Hey, look! A stupid leftist troll shows up! Hi, troll!

As for your talking points, troll:

1. Indonesian tsunami. Bush isn't president of Indonesia and didn't cause the tsunami. He offered aid, both monetary and personnel. What more did you want of him?

2. Katrina. Again, Pres. Bush isn't responsible for causing natural disasters. First response to a natural disaster in one of the United States is the responsibility of the local and state governments, both of which failed the people of New Orleans. Levees had gone neglected for decades, not something Bush could be held solely responsible for. While the federal (FEMA) response left much to be desired, the primary responsibility for the Katrina disaster lay with the response by local and state officials.

3. 9/11. No one can speak of how they would respond to being told of an attack until they are actually tested themselves. You can talk of "stupors" if you like, but President Bush was in the middle of reading a story to young schoolchildren when he was informed of the attack. He finished the story without making a scene or otherwise scaring the children, then spent some time thinking about what he'd been told, and probably was considering options, since he was away from the White House and most of his advisors. I'm sure you would have done better. /sarcasm

4. Iraq Insurgency. Abraham Lincoln had to go through a half-dozen generals before he found one (Grant) who was capable of prosecuting the Civil War to his satisfaction. Was Lincoln an incompetent, too?

5. Economy. In any economy, you have periods of growth and periods of loss. Just as Clinton got credit for a booming economy based on savings from slashing defense costs, Bush gets the blame for an economy crippled by war costs and other factors, such as home loans given to borrowers with bad credit, which was a policy of Democrats, not Republicans. There's more than enough blame to go around for the economy, although as President, Bush has to shoulder the blame.

sime0n said...

Arr matey! Avast yer name callin! Troll huh? How about, 'concerned citizen & patriot no longer willing to listen to neoCon BS like this without letting you know (1) self-deception is real: and (2) I am glad that your ilk has been marginalized'.

@tsunami - We stood aside as the Sri Lankan government confiscated the property of fishing families to build luxury hotels after the tsunami. Just like Katrina!

@Katrina - This was not a natural disaster, it was a disaster created by systemic failure of the Army Corps of Engineers over decades. Google: "largest civil engineering disaster". "This is the largest civil engineering disaster in the history of the United States."

@911 - Yea maybe you're right. Maybe I too would have sat there for 9 minutes with a blank stare while Flight 93 was plunging and the WTC was burning. Then again, maybe I would have excused myself in the name of "National Security".

@Generals - General Shinseki was right about troop levels and was fired for not spewing Bush's propaganda, which of course had a chilling effect on the rest of the Generals. Aka, Rumsfeld's way or the highway, competance be damned.

@Lincon finding a general to 'prosecute the war to his satisfaction' - Americans are not satisfied with Republican's Orwellian 'strategery'. ie - War is Peace. Cheney's answer? "So!!" This is a Republican war built on lies. As General Powell said, "You break it, you bought it".

@economy - " have periods of growth and periods of loss".. Well yea, it's just that this 'period of loss' is unmatched in recent history. You have to go back to the 1940's to find a comparable situation. But even from recent history: unemployment under Clinton vs. unemployment under Bush = Deregulating financial markets was / is a dumb idea, obviously. When your presidential candidate says the economy is 'fundamentally sound' right before a collapse and his Chief Economic Adviser calls America a 'nation of whiners'... what else is there to say? Republicans are fundamentally out of touch and live a faith based reality. Keep you head in the sand for as long as you want, the rest of US are moving on.

Though I digress. Ultimately this is not about Left vs. Right, Liberal vs. Conservative, Good vs. Evil. This is about the limits of power, imperialism and the end of American Exceptionalism.

As Bacevich points out: Book of Second Kings, chapter 20, verse one. "Set thine house in order."

Bob said...

Ok, sime0n, a couple of last points:

1. Tsunami. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and the US has no business telling it how to run its internal affairs.

2. Americans are not satisfied with Republican's Orwellian 'strategery'. ie - War is Peace. That's right, so they peacefully changed their leadership, as has been done in this country for over 2 centuries. Hopefully Obama will keep us as safe for the next 8 years as President Bush has for the last 7. That was the point of the article I was linking to, if you bothered to read it.

sime0n said...

Ya, read the article, 3 times now. I left a comment with Peggy about an hour after it was posted to the wsj. This article touches a nerve. Bush absolutely did not 'keep US safe'. My personal opinion is that Bush, et al, were and continue to be negligent. They ignored the warnings, it's a matter of historical record. It's criminal. They had to be forced to setup a commission to figure out what happened. It's treasonous. To say that Bush 'kept us safe' is deceptive and conveniently excuses his administration's failure to prevent 911. Cheers to you for posting my dissenting opinion.