Cross-posted at politics of selfishness.com
Yesterday, we commemorated the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Tearful observances were held at Ground Zero in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The solemn occasion, however, did not deter GOP from its calculated campaign to persuade the American electorate that President Obama is not to be trusted.
On Monday, a right-wing funded think tank, the Government Accountability Institute, issued a report that contended that President Obama attends fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings. Former Vice President Dick Cheney cited the report to criticize the President.“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Cheney said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “Those who deserve the credit are the men and women in our military and intelligence communities who worked for many years to track him down. They are the ones who deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.”
On “Fox and Friends,” Senator John McCain asserted, contrary to all of the existing evidence that, “As far as the Middle East is concerned, this president's national security policy has been an abysmal failure.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the remembrance to find fault with President Obama’s unwillingness to join with Bibi Netanyahu and his Likud Party in a jihad against Iran’s nuclear program.“They are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If they have nuclear weapons, the next time there is an attack it could be with nuclear weapons,” he said on the same show. “There has to be a sense of urgency about stopping them instead of this almost irrational desire to negotiate with them. They have to be afraid of us if we're going to stop them. I'm not certain that's the case right now.”
By contrast, Kurt Eichenwald offered a sober riposte to the GOP’s braggadocio. In an op ed column in the New York Times yesterday, entitled “The Deafness Before The Storm,” Eichenwald reminded readers of the Bush administration’s refusal to act in the summer of 2001 upon the advice of the CIA, which issued a number of warnings about an imminent terrorist attack. Eichenwald wrote, “ But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power in the Pentagon were warning that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat.”
History now records, in graphic detail, the consequences of that failure to set aside their ideological blinkers and the refusal of the neo-cons to view the world as it is. Because of their triumph over foreign policy, the U.S. became involved in two wars that led to the deaths and injuries of thousands of our soldiers, with an untold number of dead and the pervasive misery suffered by hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here at home the costs to the U.S. tax-payers from these ill-conceived wars, including the long-term care and treatment of our wounded veterans, may ultimately exceed $6 trillion dollars.
But what are there other lessons to be learned from 9/11? One is to be very weary. The very same neo-cons who advised the Bush Administration - including Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton - have become top advisors to Mitt Romney. They, along with Cheney, Giuliani and Romney - all of whom successfully evaded military serve during the Vietnam War - now stridently beat the drums of war on behalf of a tone-deaf, right-wing Israeli lobby that would involve this country in another misbegotten war of foreign adventure that could potentially explode the entire Middle East.
A second lesson to be learned is that neither the GOP nor any other political group should ever be permitted again to use fear as an instrument of national policy, as the Bush administration so successfully did. Fear eclipses reason and, a Franklin Roosevelt sagely noted, prevents us as a people from tackling urgent problems with real-world solutions.
A third and equally important lesson to be learned is that lies, slogans and cant can never be relied upon as a substitute for a serious discussion of policy differences. The GOP and its supporters continue to insist that government is not a solution, and that the public sector does not create jobs that provide important or meaningful services. Yet 125 of the people who died at the Pentagon on 9/11 were public employees; 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, 37 Port Authority Police Department officers,15 EMTs and 3 court officers died responding to the attacks on the Twin Towers. Another 2,000 first responders were also injured in the attacks. They offered their lives heroically, without hesitation and never insisted, aside from being paid a fair wage, that their lives were indispensable or that, because of the vagaries of tax policy or a failure to be paid extravagant bonuses,they were unwilling to sacrifice their lives in an effort to help others.
The events of 9/11 should serve as a stark and perpetual reminder of the responsibility of the Bush administration and the GOP for this national tragedy. Those who continue to enable them should also should also be publicly repudiated for their continuing, irresponsible efforts to distract voters from the need to focus upon the real problems that have reduced millions of our fellow citizens to lives of penury in a Dawinian war that GOP has unleashed against the rest of us on behalf of its wealthy elite.