Squandering the trauma of September 11

” “Lucky me, I hit the trifecta,” said George Bush in the immediate aftermath of September 11, according to his budget director. War, recession and national emergency liberated him to soar in the political stratosphere. But after several faltering starts this year, he felt compelled to relaunch his campaign with $4.5m (£2.5m) of television advertising in 16 key states…

The trauma of September 11 has been squandered as a political factor. Just as Bush has misspent the goodwill of the world, he has wasted his opportunity to create any consensus at home. He had planned to run his campaign on the Bismarckian formula of the primacy of foreign policy and Kulturkampf. But his trifecta has been turned upside down: David Kay’s confession that ‘we were all wrong’ on WMD in Iraq; job stagnation; increased recriminations about 9/11 as the commission begins its work in earnest. Bush, moreover, is patently using 9/11 not for ‘changing times’ but to advance his reactionary social agenda. Rather than appearing ‘steady’, he is setting himself against change, including changing his own policies. What he has left is a negative campaign. If he cannot elevate himself on the presidential pedestal he must throw himself into the abattoir of the culture war.” —Sidney Blumenthal, writing in the Guardian.UK

Certainly, the outcry about the Ground Zero ads is rampant on the Left, and certainly it has upset an outspoken number of those who lost loved ones on 9-11. But will it significantly alienate the electorate as a whole? I am not sure, since for noncritical viewers, the ads certainly pluck all the right heartstrings. There are still an awful lot of ‘United we stand’ bumper stickers on the cars I pass on the highway each morning. Even those who do not question the necessity of the perpetual WoT® or the War President’s prowess in leading us ought to wonder at his judgment if he could so badly miscalculate the impact of the first ad he chose to run in his reelection campaign.

[Ah, but, you might say, it wasn’t his ad, it was his handlers’. But the same people making his p.r. decisions for him are the ones making his policy decisions for him… As Elvis Costello says, joking on his current concert tour that he had seen Vice President Dick Cheney at an all-you-can-eat buffet, “Let’s hope he doesn’t die of a heart attack. Then who would be president? His Texan hand puppet.”]