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View Diary: Reframing Bush's national security record (115 comments)

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  •  I've never liked (4.00)
    the hiding part. I think the right thing to do was keep him away from danger. The office of the Presidency is bigger than the man and we would have been in deep trouble had he been killed.

    Instead I would talk about the tax-cut instead of port security. The Tax cut as opposed to research on the best ways to decon attack sites. Or the refusal to start a Homeland security department until he had no choice.

    •  agreed (none)
      the hiding thing is a non-starter.
    •  Ditto. "Hiding" was prudent response ... (none)
      ... to threats of unknown scale, scope and nature.
      •  I tend to Agree (none)
        But the SS should have SCOOPED his ass out of that classroom ASAP, rather than let him sit there for nigh on twenty minutes.

        I would have had somebody's ass for that, if I were in charge of the SS.

      •  Bush was right to run -- but for how long? (none)
        I'm iffy on that.

        Getting the President off the ground and safely into the air ASAP was the right thing to do, to be sure.

        I remember watching Marcia Kramer, idiot reporter for WCBS here in New York, breathlessly report, after both towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania had been hit, that another four hijacked planes were believed to be in the air, and, oh, one apparently has now crashed into the Mall in DC.

        No one knew for sure what was happening, and taking immediate measures to ensure Bush's safety was prudent.

        But after an hour or two, it turned into cowardice. Giuliani almost got killed that day, while Bush was running from base to base. Louisiana and Nebraska? Shameful. Air Force One should have been on its way to LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark at that point. McGuire AFB would have worked, too.

        He ran like a coward, and then he lied about it. Rather worse than lying about sex, if you ask me.

      •  Don't agree (none)
        on the hiding part.

        When IRA terrrorists bombed the Queen's building [don't recall if it was the residence or business area], she was out there immediately inspecting the damage.

        She's got guts, Bush does not.

        •  Not the first time her home was bombed. (none)
          As a young princess, Queen Elizabeth remained in London through the Blitz.

          With the outbreak of war in September 1939, the Queen [Mother] undertook a series of tours of the UK in a bid to boost morale. There was some suggestion that she should be evacuated, with her daughters, to the safety of Canada or the United States.

          To this she made her famous reply: "The children won't go without me. I won't leave the King. And the King will never leave."

          The family endured the London blitz - Buckingham Palace was bombed in September 1940 - and the Queen's support for the King, her courage and efforts to boost the war effort did much to cement her lasting popularity.

          So you see, Queen Elizabeth has a high standard to live up to: her mother.

          Er, we'd really like you guys to go back to being a GOOD influence on us.

          by Canadian Reader on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 08:12:58 PM PST

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    •  The flip side (none)
      The symbol of a strong and resolute President is important in a crisis, especially on that day.
      Certainly, he should have been taken to a secure location. No problem there. But, the technology exists that would have allowed him to be more visable without letting it be known where he was, or jeapodizing his security. I give him a D- for that day.

      That said, I wouldn't make a huge deal of it.

    •  I don't agree (4.00)
      Hiding is exactly right in my opinion because even though there's a logical defense for it, it's not an argument Bush will comfortably make: I wasn't hiding. I was being protected while we found out what was going on because the presidency is so important. Sounds like a whimp no matter if true or false.  Therefor he won't make it. Therefor the meme sticks. Why have such a high standard for our stuff when they attack us with the kitchen sink.   And it's not a slam dunk answer for Bush either. There was cowardace in there.

      <"Do not seek the treasure!" >

      by moon in the house of moe on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 01:37:54 PM PST

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    •  I disagree (4.00)
      Bold leadership would mean rushing to the scene of the attack and rallying the public. Guliani did it. Boris Yeltsin did it (during the attempted coup when he was mayor of Moscow). The Queen of Englad did it as London burned in WWII.

      That's leadership. Hiding in Nebraska, and then lying to justify it, is not leadership. It's fear.

      •  The lying (none)
        is the only thing I take issue with. That day was so confusing and the hit to the American psyci was so large that had he been killed, the panic would have been enormous. The President is a symbol of America, bigger than any other. Had he been killed by al queda it would have given them a huge victory and our people would take a massive blow.

        O top of that can you imagine GWB as a martyr.

      •  Absolutely correct, (none)
        there was, in effect, a "no comment" from the POTUS on one of the most appalling days in our national consciousness?  That is certainly NOT leadership.  We don't have to frame it as cowardice, but the lack of strong, sure leadership.  

        I for one will NEVER forget his short address later that awful evening; "deer in the headlights", indeed.

        I used to be disgusted, now I'm just amused.

        by wozzle on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 01:51:45 PM PST

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        •  I'm not forgetting either . . . (4.00)
          That performance from the White House on 9-11 was completely unnerving. Bush didn't know what the hell he was supposed to be thinking or doing as President, and he telegraphed it like a western union moneygram.

          But the deer/headlights look that still sticks in my craw was the elementary school photo-op when he heard the news. The look on his face wasn't "What?"  It was "Oh, Shit. I think somebody said that was going to happen . . ."

          People here are right that--at the moment--there's no political traction to gain from forcing this issue. Americans were going to support their President no matter what the circumstances. But if the "Bush Knew" meme gets going after the 9-11 commission report this summer, there's some hay to be made by bringing this up again.  

          Think of and ad with that look on his face in the classroom with a big, bold "Bush Knew" . . . .

          •  gotta agree with the both of you (none)
            as i say home that day, panicked and wondering if this was "it"... when we needed his "steady strong leadership", where the hell was he?  i can excuse him flying around in the sky for a while (protecting the presidency and all that) but honestly, does anyone really believe that there was "no safe way" for him to communicate with us during those first couple of hours?  if nothing else, he could have taped something on AF1 for distribution to all the networks, gotten on the radio, or something like that.

            his failure to appear early on was one thing that kept me afraid and wondering what the hell was going on.  and then he got on tv and like you said, "deer in the headlights"...  i didn't feel secure then and haven't really felt secure with him in charge since that moment.

            There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadilloes. - Jim Hightower

            by anna on Sun Mar 14, 2004 at 02:23:20 PM PST

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    •  I don't know (none)
      During the London Blitz the Royal Family was supposed to be moved out of London to a safe place in the countryside. The Queen Mum nixed the move and her subjects took heart from this. REAL leaders care more for their people than their skin.

      I give credit to Dick Cheney for going to the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath of the attack. It took some guts (or Chutzpah) since he had just the day before lambasted the civilians there (many now dead) as worthless drones that should be replaced by contractors. Bush should have been the one to go there. After all, shouldn't he have been in the Joint Chief's War Room? Who was in charge of the Armed Forces? Obviously Cheney, while Bush ran like a rabbit.

    •  I strongly disagree (3.50)
      True leaders are not supposed to turn tail and hide, they are supposed to provide guidance and strength for everyone else.  You know, the rest of us in non-high profile, non-leadership positions.  Compare this behavvior to that of Rudy Guiliani, who didn't run off to a secret, undisclosed cabin in the Catskills but elected to get directly involved on the street-level.  

      Courage is doing the right thing, no matter how scared you are. Imagine the possible consequences -- the lives lost, a growing circle of infrastructual damage --  if the emergency response workers at 9/11 had acted on reasonable fears for personal safety and hid out in LA.  

      I am disgusted by how Bush has trailed in the wake of the true heroes of that day, soaking up the appreciation the responses workers truly earned.  And I am perpetually astounded that Bush's "deer in the headlights" performance that evening is praised over and over again.  

      Directly exploiting Bush's cowardice, however, runs the risk of a huge backlash.  Probably best to focus on the myriad of other charges we can level at him that don't cut quite so close to the bone of the constructed meme of 9/11.

      •  I agree with you (none)
        I don't think Bush did anything "presidential" until Sept. 14 when he appeared at Ground Zero.

        Bush was absent at a time when he should have been there to keep the country together.  The attacks were over by 10 a.m.  Why wasn't he making a speech by then?  It would have helped with confusion.

    •  Fine (4.00)
      But instead of making that argument, he lied about Airforce One being a target. If he had said "out of an abundance of caution, and because we didn't know what the next target was, I stayed in Florida and then went millitary base hopping" that would be one thing. Instead he said that he would have gotten to DC faster except there were specific threats to Airfocre One. And the administration even leaked some more lies of that sort to the likes of William Safire (and probably others, but this is from memory).

      My blog The Washington State Political Report.

      by Carl Ballard on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 01:50:56 PM PST

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    •  asdf (4.00)
      "The office of the Presidency is bigger than the man and we would have been in deep trouble had he been killed"

      This is contradictory.  If the office is bigger than the man, then the man is replacable and life goes on regardless of the particular person holding the office.  On the other hand, if we go bottoms-up if the man is killed, then the office is less than the man, since it is the survival of the particular man which is overriding.

      I say the office is more important - if for no other reason than we kick the man's sorry ass out every 4/8 years (excepting FDR).  The President effectively has many millions of sucessors (ie every natural citizen over 35 who has lived in the US for the last 14 years), so his death will not cause life in the US to wink into nonexistence - worse comes to worse, the states can simply keep sending interim Congress-critters to Washington to appoint an interim Speaker of the House who gets a real quick promotion.  Now many of these will be useless, because short-order cooks are rarely foreign-affairs savants, but in a theoretical Tom Clancy scenario, this puppy can keep on going a long damn time before we run out of decent replacements and have to delve into the realm of Amway salesmen.

      Cheney should have been sent into hiding - at least for the first few days (his long-term mole-man survivability experiment was an exercise in fear rather than prudence) - as a back-up, but Bush should have been front and center.  Let's face it: he's damn useless for anything else except professional target, and it would have sent the message that the country was resolute - instead of the message that our leaders think of their own skins before those of their citizens.

    •  It's not the hiding, it's the lying (none)
      Which is why I thought their response was ridiculous to begin with.  They never claimed they were whisking him to safety, they presented the image of a bold Commander in Chief returning to Washington DC forthwith to take command.

      It would have been prudent and wise to send the President either to Strategic Air Command in Omaha or to NORAD in Colorado where they have such things as nuclear hardened bunkers and full secure communications access to military forces worldwide.  Christ it even works politically, think of the campaign shots you could run of Bush sitting in a command chair surrounded by Generals and a bazillion blinking consoles.

      But they dithered around and ended up make themselves look ridiculous (Louisiana??) and then tried to cover it up with a bogus threat to Air Force 1.

      We may not be able to use it, but Bush was hiding, and in a way that did not serve the National Security, unlike my scenario above.

      •  "Fearless leader takes charge" (4.00)
        ... if the American public stops to think about it, is not a concept compatible with Bush's actions on 9/11.

        I've constructed two scenarios (assuming he only received knowledge of what was going on while at the elementary school):

        (1) Bush hears the news. Decides that the course of action that's best for the country is for him to continue to read a storybook to kids for 20 minutes, then after departing, orders Air Force 1 to fly to Louisiana, then to Nebraska, then gee, nothing blew up for the last 8 hours so I guess we can go back to Washington now.

        (2) Bush is told the news, and is told to stay where he is until he's given the all-clear. Signal comes, and he's whisked away to AF1, and where are we going?, and Dick calls and says I'll let you know when you can come back we don't want you to say anything until we decide what words to put in your mouth.

        Can you conclude Bush = leader from either scenario? In the case of (1), his "bold" judgment  and leadership are clearly absent. He's the effin' President! He tells people what he will do and where he will go or else. Right? And even if he was given warnings about his safety, don't you want the guy in charge to be the one who runs back into the burning building to rescue the girl's kitten?

        Or consider the possibility of scenario (2), from which you can conclude that he wasn't then, and likely never has been, in charge at all.

        If they want people to think he's the guy who slams his fist on the table and barks the orders and gets in his handlers' faces "Because I'm the President, goddamit, and my country needs me!", well.... I'm going to require a little proof, please.

        And don't get me going re: "Find the f**kups that let this happen -- you're telling me there are 3000 Americans dead on my watch? Some heads will roll for this!" Isn't that what a reasonable person would say? Would demand?

        Has that happened yet?

    •  Attacking Bush on initial response ... (none)
      ... to Sept. 11 is just bad tactics.  

      Everyone remembers two things about his initial response:  the comment at the WTC site ("and the people who did this are about to hear from all of us ...") and the speech before Congress.  Those images are fixed in voters' minds.  And, 90% of voters (myself included) give Bush credit for strong leadership in the first couple weeks after Sept. 11.  

      If we want Bush out of office, and I take a back seat to noone on that, its just silly to attack him for his initial response.  If you do that, no one will even hear the rest of what you say (or worse, will automatically discredit it).

      Yes, Bush has done an awful job in the war on terrorism.  Yes, it is CRITICAL to make that argument (and make it NOW).  But, let's be effective:  stay away from his initial response.

      •  I disagree, but you're right: we can't use it. (none)
        I still think staying on the run all day was cowardly and a huge error, but I do agree that we can't use it, but for a couple of reasons...
        1. The initial "hesitation" in the Kindergarden class -- no one really knew what was happening yet. I was in the car, and Howard Stern said something about a plane hitting the WTC (which I was about 25 miles from at that point) -- I switched to news radio, and I heard the second plane hit -- but like a lot of other people, I thought it was a replay of the sounds of the FIRST impact. People thought it was a Cesna, they thought the second hit was just a replay of the first one -- there was a lot of confusion. You can't blame him for staying put while his handlers tried to figure out what was actually happening, and whether this was, as it initially appeared, a general aviation accident.
        2. Bush and his people can make a strong, and hard-to-counter arguement, that at a moment like that, you listen to the secret service. It's their JOB to be paranoid and to over-react on the side of safety. Just like the President isn't really "allowed" to get in his pre-presidential car and, sans secret service, drive over to McDonald's to pick up lunch from the value menu, he likely didn't have much choice about where he was for those hours.
        He's still a coward, though.
        •  Not sure (none)
          I agree with your reasons, though I do with your conclusion.

          First, the "no one really knew" applies to you and me, but not to the White House: not only did they have access to the second-by-second intelligence the rest of us weren't privy to, we now know they had forehand warning that something like this was going to happen.  Those surrounding Bush had a much better idea than people on the street of what was going on.

          And second, yes, the SS is supposed to be paranoid about security--but that means they should have hustled him out of there, not stayed at the school.  His appearance there was listed on his public schedule for the day; anyone who wanted to know where he was at that moment could have found out.  So every moment he spent there once they got the word, he was a sitting duck.

          Rumors of more hijacked planes in the air?  How did they know one of them wasn't going to dive right into that school?  They didn't know that--or they shouldn't have, tinfoil hats aside.  In fact, An Interesting Day (linked in someone's comments above) makes the point that the SS did in fact try to remove Bush from the school as soon as they heard about the attacks--but "someone" who has never been identified overruled them.

          You're right that we can't use it--but his actions that day were neither "reasonable" nor admirable.  

          "The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear." -- Herbert Agar

          by Leslie in CA on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 04:01:57 PM PST

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    •  In order to lead (none)

      especially during a crisis. Bush is a glorified CEO, NOT a leader.

      The world is on its elbows and knees, It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds. Armageddon days are here again Matt Johnson

      by Madman in the marketplace on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 02:52:28 PM PST

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    •  HIs "hiding" IS important (none)
      Because Bush keeps talking about his bravery and leadership on 9/11, when on the day in question he did nothing but cut and run.

      He keeps claiming that he was out in front, but as Stern pointed out the other day Clinton managed to get to New York sooener than Bush did, and he was in Africa when it happened.

    •  What's the matter with you people? (none)
      Mike S. is right.  The President wasn't hiding!  I saw it all on TV.  The Secret Service wanted to whisk him away out of danger but Bush stood firm:  "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me!  I'll be at home!  Waiting for the bastard!"  But he decided to do what was best for the country.

      Funny thing was that Bush looked a little different from usual.  He almost looked like the "That's My Bush" guy!

      My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood, / To say as I said then.

      by Ernest Tomlinson on Sat Mar 13, 2004 at 04:20:49 PM PST

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