Yesterday (Thu., Sep 11, 2008) marked the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in which three important U.S. buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged and nearly 3,000 innocent people lost their lives. It’s actually to our credit as a nation that we were able to mark yesterday with as little note as we did. The fact is, the memory of the attacks of 9/11 has faded dramatically in the past seven years and all in all, that’s actually a good thing.
Because the only way the attacks of 9/11 could remain fresh in our minds is for the 9/11 attacks to have been the first in an ongoing and escalating series of attacks on American soil. But as we all know and for which we can all be grateful, that has not happened.
But let’s stop and think about where we stood as of this hour seven years ago. As of right now (7:50 a.m. Sept. 12) here on KTBB, we were still in continuous coverage. In fact, we did not air a regularly-scheduled program or play a single commercial on KTBB until Saturday Sept. 15. All we did was cover events as they were unfolding.
And, as you may recall, a significant portion of that coverage consisted of high-ranking opinion that the 9/11 attacks were, in fact, just the beginning. FBI chief Robert Mueller, CIA director George Tenet and numerous other experts from inside and outside government held the opinion that having succeeded so spectacularly on 9/11, that terrorists would continue to attack us in ever more spectacular ways. We were told that our lifestyles would be dramatically altered by the ever-present threat of another terrorist attack.
Let’s just say, for the sake of discussion, that those predictions had come true. Let’s say that suicide bombers began detonating themselves in our shopping malls. Let’s say that our water treatment plants came under attack, that airplanes continued to be hijacked. Let’s imagine that the shoe bomber had succeeded. Or that the attacks on the subways in London and Spain had taken place in New York and Washington instead. Let’s play with the idea that the whole anthrax-in-the-mail thing had come to more than it ultimately did.
What would have happened in the 2004 election?
Would George Bush have won if, by 2004, it was unsafe to shop or get on an airplane or drink a glass of water or open your mail? Had the mayhem that was confidently predicted ever materialized, to whom would we have been looking demanding that effective action be taken? At whose doorstep would we have laid our demands that the government carry out its most basic function and protect us?
If George Bush were not re-elected in 2004 and had the attacks continued on John Kerry’s or some other president’s watch, would we be considering him or her for re-election this November?
If we would lay blame for failing in the most fundamental duty of government to protect us at the feet of the president, at whose feet do we lay the laurels for having succeeded? To whom do we give credit for the longest interim – 2,558 days – without a direct attack on the United States since the PanAm Lockerbie bombing of December 1988?
More importantly, in view of the fact that seven years have passed without a subsequent attack, to what degree does it make sense to change the policies and procedures – both overt and covert – that have produced the success that no one dared predict seven years ago this morning? What of the Bush Administration policy should we insist that either McCain or Obama carry forward in the new administration?
Bush’s approval rating is at a very low ebb. He will leave office with Trumanesque poll numbers. But history, and not today’s opinion polls, will have the last word on the Bush presidency. I’m no blind apologist. George Bush made a lot of mistakes – as does every president.
But give the man credit. He’s about to leave office having somehow managed to largely remove the threat of terrorism on our own soil from atop the list of issues that most concern the American people.
Hurray for us.
We’re back to talking about jobs and the economy and fuel prices. In other words, the stuff we talk about every election cycle. We’re not demanding that the candidates tell us how they are going to keep us from being killed.
If you cannot appreciate the fact that this president did much to make that possible, you’re not being honest.