The Left Remembers 9/11
Earlier, I collected a series of 9/11 anniversary reflections from the press and the blogosphere. Many of them were moving but none were particularly novel. By that, I mean that everyone pretty much agreed that the day was horrible, changed a lot of things about the world, and reflected on people who were murdered that day.
There’s a different view out there, though, and it’s not just held by Muslim fanatics and our enemies across the globe but by some prominent lefties with large soapboxes.
Andy Rooney explains why the tragedy was really our fault:
The disaster on September 11th wasn’t like any of those. It was manmade. Death by design. Some people who hated Americans set out to kill a lot of us and they succeeded
Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us. We seem so nice to ourselves. They do hate us though. We know that and we’re trying to protect ourselves with more weapons.
We have to do it I suppose but it might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn’t make so many people in the world want to kill us.
Duncan “Atrios” Black, meanwhile, does his best Kos imitation:
But, anyway, just a big hearty fuck you to the White House and the news media who have decided this day is largely a personal narrative about George Bush, a man who was almost entirely absent on that day then had a big giggle before falling asleep early. It isn’t about him, and unless you were in New York or Washington or were close to people who were directly affected, it’s probably not about you either.
Kos himself echoes much the same sentiment, although in the context of personal reflection:
It’s not about me, and it’s certainly not about Bush, who after his famous Pet Goat moment cowardly fled and hid out in Nebraska in fear — the same kind of abject fear they’d spend the next five years selling to the American people.
For me, the worst part of the day was telling my mother, who had called me singing “happy birthday”, to please stop and go turn on the television. It was a jarring moment. She thought I was telling her to stop because I felt too old at 30. In reality, I felt like throwing up because the world was changing overnight, and not for the best.
Aside from the fact that the media views most commemorations of solemn events through the lens of the presidency, given that that officeholder is the de facto Head of State, I know of no one who thinks today is about President Bush. Unless it’s lefties who want to use the occasion to remind is that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose.
This isn’t just the radical fringe of the Angry Left, either.
Ezra Klein: “Five years ago, we were attacked. But the real damage happened when we responded.”
Michael Tomasky calls “OBSCENE” media coverage of Bush commemorations that don’t discuss the “partisan rancor” that “Bush & Co. have enforced on the country since about 9-14.”
Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins have a piece in The American Prospect, debuting today, arguing that Rudy Giuliani was not a hero who united a great city and the country in a time of crisis but rather a blundering nincompoop whose poor administrative skills made much of the tragedy possible.
Bill Press: “There were good lessons learned, and bad ones. Unfortunately, George Bush learned only the bad ones.”
Robert Sheer: “In light of that sorry record of the propagandistic exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy for partisan political purpose, is it any wonder that large numbers of Americans have doubts about all of it and that a considerable industry of documentaries and investigative reports has sprung up with alternative theories ranging from the plausible to the absurd?”
Kevin Drum links the Tomasky piece above approvingly, noting that a ceremony where Bush, Guiliani, and New York governor George Pataki lay a wreath in commemoration of the attacks on the World Trde Center without inviting any Democrats is “enough to make you ill.”
Josh Marshall has yet to comment on the anniversary, aside from a comment-free link to the Guiliani hit piece.
[Update: Less surprisingly, ACLU to the gets into the fray: “In the five years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, Americans have successfully kept the light of freedom shining even as the Bush administration has consistently violated the spirit and letter of our laws, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.” via John Stevenson]
I don’t mean to suggest that most people on the Left don’t mourn the tragedy of 9/11, hate America, or any such nonsense. And I’m sure that if I trolled around long enough, I’d find some bloggers on the Right using the day as an occasion to bash Democrats and explain that why Voting for Any Democrat is Tantamount to Surrender to Osama Bin LadenTM. Still, the stridency of these posts, even from bloggers and publications on the moderate side of the lefty blogosphere is surprising.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum responds, arguing that, unlike FDR, Bush failed to put aside his partisanship to bring the country together and win the war. Leaving aside whether FDR truly did that and the differences between the age of gotcha journalism and instant communications vice one where the press willingly cooperated with a president in his attempts to deceive the public about the fact he was confined to a wheelchair, there’s not much doubt that Rove and company saw the war as part and parcel of the re-election strategy.
Still, understanding that the Left and Right view things (the Clinton impeachment, for example) through different lenses, much of the criticism is odd:
He continued pushing divisive domestic issues like tax cuts and culture war amendments. (“Dr. Tax Cuts has been replaced by Dr. Win the War” would have been more appropriate.) He showed little interest in funding anti-proliferation efforts or working with serious Democratic proposals to improve domestic security at ports and chemical plants. The national security rhetoric from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the administration was relentlessly inflammatory and divisive.
Just as FDR didn’t roll back the New Deal when his war got going, Bush didn’t suddenly stop believing in tax cuts, the non-utility of the UN, and so forth. Further, it’s not as if Democrats stopped trying to stonewall the majority’s policy initiatives in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation.