A good man led a wounded nation.

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Much was written and said Wednesday as we marked the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took down the twin towers of the World Trade Center, destroyed a large section of the Pentagon and snuffed out nearly three thousand innocent lives. The networks and cable news channels remembered the selfless heroism of New York City police officers and firefighters – who ran in to the very mouth of Hell even as thousands were running out. Such remembrance is well deserved.

The words and actions of another individual should also be remembered. His name is George W. Bush.

President Bush did not leave office in triumph. By the end of his presidency, the psychological and political toll of what we now recognize as the ill-advised Iraq War, together with his stubborn refusal to stand up to his critics, had reduced President Bush’s approval numbers to the low 30s and worse.

But on September 11, 2001, and in the days that followed, George W. Bush was the very exemplar of the United States presidency. He was by turns as the unfolding moments required, tough, resolute, angry, sad and authentically compassionate. His command of a dynamic situation, his carefully chosen and well-delivered words and his resolute stance against the forces of evil that had at last revealed themselves in a way that could not be misinterpreted, all served to bring the nation together.

The president’s first public statement following the attacks came shortly after noon in a quickly-arranged recorded statement made at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. He set the tone early by saying,

Freedom itself was attacked this morning, by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.”

Three days later President Bush visited what came to be called “ground zero” at the site of the collapsed twin towers. While he was standing on top of a wrecked fire engine, he began speaking to the firefighters and workers who were sifting the rubble, still hoping to find survivors. Someone handed the president a bullhorn and in one of the most memorable moments of his presidency he said,

The nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut. As we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens…” (voice in crowd: “We can’t hear you!”) “I can hear you!” (cheers) “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. (cheers) And the people…and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear allof us soon.”

From that riveting moment right through a pitch-perfect address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, President Bush was the kind of leader we expect our presidents to be.

Following 9/11, the motto quickly became, “Never Forget.” For whatever verdict we and history ultimately pronounce as to the totality of George W. Bush’s presidency, let us never forget that in the dark days when a nation stood wounded, a good and decent man stood tall.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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11 Responses

  1. Better-late-than-never that we acknowledge the Iraq invasion was a fiasco. And as chicken hawk Bolton exits we are, hopefully, less-prone to action in Iran, a blunder which would dwarf Iraq.

    And ditto your kudos for Dubya’s “carefully chosen and well-delivered words,” presidential manner that seems quaint now.

  2. Buddy Saunders says:

    We’ll never get anywhere fighting “terror.” Although we haven’t yet admitted it, Islam is the real foe. And a movement founded in religion is far harder to defeat than one based on simple nationalism.

  3. C M Solomon says:

    Would someone please explain to me how this country gained the upper hand and WIN this “War on Terrorism” from which no greater death toll was sustained by Americans on a single day on Sep. 11, 2001 since WW2? Can we assume that Obama’s billion dollar CASH (and otherwise) “giveaway diplomacy” and utterly weak resistance to Iran’s secret pursuit of nuclear weapons and ICBMs is the model for DEFEATING the largest terrorist State in the world?

    When the Marxist appeasers and sympathizers are in charge of the Defense and State Departments (also known as the “blame America first” crowd), we can only expect more, not less terrorism against us and the rest of the world. These terrorists that run these Dictatorships in the name of their depraved religion can smell cowardice 10,000 miles away and they found a patsy in the Obama regime, yet some have the audacity to complain about John Bolton.

  4. Ron Eagleman says:

    The Bolton vs Obama foreign policy strategies are polar opposites! I think that the Trump strategy is somewhere in the middle, which is incompatible with Bolton remaining in the administration. Although Bolton offers a very hawkish approach to dealing with Iran and other adversaries, this may be a time for resolute and strong diplomacy. The religion and culture of the leaders in the Middle East will prevent self-preservation from becoming part of their negotiations, as the lives of their citizens are completely expendable. It is difficult to have a rational discussion with people who are willing to have children strap on suicide bombs to go into markets to be human shrapnel. It may not be possible to avoid, but as a civilized country, we should at least try an alternative to such human tragedy that would occur as they welcome their 12th imam. Yes, I have no doubt that we will hear from John Bolton again; we can only hope that he does not follow in the footsteps of another neocon named Bill Kristol.

  5. Isn’t it clear by now that Trump HAS no foreign policy strategy?
    It’s all ad lib.

    Take the labels off the map and he couldn’t find Iran.

    • C M Solomon says:

      A corollary is a proposition that follows with little or no proof required from one already proven. “If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A “sound” is a conversion of air wave vibrations into electrical signals detected by a living organism such as a brain.

      There is a corollary to this well known statement. “If stupid, valueless, and CHILDISH STATEMENTS are made by a Left-wing SPONGE that soaks up (for redistribution) ALL of the hatred and insanity of the “fake news” Democrat propaganda machines (NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and their darling media personalities and political hacks – too many to list here), but NOBODY ACKNOWLEDGES IT with a stinging rebuke, does it not become WORTHLESS INFORMATION if intelligent people decide to ignore it (essentially as NOT HEARD).

      A foolish statement born out of hatred for President Trump symbolizes the ineffectiveness of unacceptable opinions/thoughts that have NO VALUE to intelligent Americans seeking legitimate debate and dialogue. Your provocation to dangle bait about Trump’s knowledge of geography is hereby ignored! Proverbs 26:4 seems appropriate here.

    • C M Solomon says:

      Isn’t it clear by now that Trump is a negotiating genius given how he has dealt with the freeloading NATO partners that have NOT been paying “their fair share” of the expenses and also with the UN deadbeats that used to soak us for the favors that multiple former Administrations have given them? His negotiating technique is to be unpredictable as he operates entirely for the benefit of the United States, keeping our opponents off balance as opposed to the predictable Marxist and Islamic sympathizer technique that Obama practiced while dealing with countries like Russia and Iran.

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