On the 11th anniversary of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Kurt Eichenwald's account in The New York Times of classified security briefings leading up to those attacks reminds us of the gross incompetence and recklessness of George W. Bush and his administration:
On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.Meanwhile, The New York Times editorial board takes Camp Romney to task for deliberately trying to confuse voters about policy positions:
That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it. [...]
In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush officials attempted to deflect criticism that they had ignored C.I.A. warnings by saying they had not been told when and where the attack would occur. That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert.
On issue after issue raised in the first weekend of interviews after the conventions, Romney and Ryan actively tried to obscure their positions, as if a clear understanding of their beliefs about taxes, health care or spending would scare away anyone who was listening. Aware that President Obama’s policies in these areas are quite popular once people learn about them, the Republicans are simply sowing confusion.Matt Miller in The Washington Post writes writes about the modern GOP philosophy of wealth worship and argues that the aftermath of 9/11 put this culture of greed on full display:
[S]omething snapped in the Republican mind after 9/11. We’ve now put a trillion dollars of war on our kids’ credit card, with Republicans leading the charge for tax cuts for the top the entire time.In a bad sign for Romney, even conservatives like Michael Gerson at The Washington Post see the writing on the wall and are pointing out the failure of Mitt Romney's campaign strategy:
In a saner era, the big 2001 Bush tax cuts enacted a few months before September 11 would have been immediately revisited, because we were now a nation at war. [...] And in a saner era, a Republican presidential candidate worth $250 million who paid taxes at the rate of 13.9 percent on $20 million in income would never make further tax cuts for the top the centerpiece of his agenda when we still have nearly 80,000 troops in Afghanistan. He’d see it as unseemly. [...]
What were Republicans thinking? What is Mitt Romney thinking now? Only they know for sure, but what’s clear is that Republican leaders see no moral disconnect between the sacrifices borne by the tiny fraction of Americans who serve in the military (and their families), and repeated tax windfalls showered on a relative handful of well-to-do families at the same time.
With less than two months until the election, Romney is left with dwindling opportunities to reshape the dynamic of the race. This places extraordinary pressure on him in the presidential debates that commence on Oct. 3. He was an able debater during the Republican primaries. Obama is a weaker debater than his reputation — often professorial and elliptical. But Romney has the harder task. He must do more than hold his own. He will need to shake and shift public attitudes. And it is not easy to be aggressive during a debate without appearing overbearing or desperate.In Chicago, tens of thousands of teachers are on strike demanding fair working conditions and better schools. Chris Rhomberg at CNN points out that we need more strikes to hold employers accountable:
This analysis requires an admission. Obama’s political strategy has generally worked.
During the 1970s, an average of 289 major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers occurred annually in the United States. By the 1990s, that had fallen to about 35 per year. And in 2009, there were no more than five.Finally, The Philadelphia Inquirer takes on Mitt Romney's health care policy twist:
The decline in strikes cannot be explained solely by declining union membership. According to a study by sociologist Jake Rosenfeld, unionization among private-sector full-time employees fell by 40% between 1984 and 2002. But the drop in total strike frequency was even greater, falling by more than two-thirds. [...] For some, the disappearance of strikes may seem like a good thing, an end to the disruptions and occasional inconvenience they may cause. But there are more serious consequences to the loss of workers' rights to organize and to strike.
The decline of unionization has contributed to the rise of economic inequality in the U.S. over the past several decades. More than that, it also signals a historic de-democratization of the institutions that traditionally served to hold corporations accountable and govern our working life, from the scope of collective bargaining on the job to the protection for workers' rights under the law. [...] For the sake of our economic and political future, however, America would be better off if we had more strikes.
In a move widely interpreted as a bid for undecided, middle-of-the-road voters, the GOP presidential nominee on Sunday said he'd retain provisions that assure young adults coverage on their parents' health plans, as well as the pivotal rule that people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage.
Even so, Romney hasn't offered much reason to believe that he's become a man of deeply held convictions on health reform or any other policy question.
If anything, the Romney course-change on health care only amplifies the problem voters have had in trying to grasp where the candidate stands on many issues, whether it's tax cuts for the wealthy, balancing the budget, abortion, or the future of Medicare. After all, it was a Romney campaign aide who once compared his likely policy adjustments to fiddling with an Etch A Sketch.