Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Playing the Blame Game

[[S P E E C H E S]] * With his job approval ratings headed down the toilet, and a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showing that 52 percent of the American public thinks George W. Bush should meet face-to-face with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq--whose almost month-long protest outside of Bush’s Crawford, Texas, estate has spurred other protests around the nation--the prez has finally had to take desperate measures to improve his image.

First, he’s decided to trim a couple of days off his already record-setting summer vacation, supposedly to help monitor the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. (But of course, this also gives him a convenient way to duck Sheehan--while simultaneously providing the impression that he’s a compassionate leader.) Then, during an address today in San Diego, California, Bush implied that most of his immediate predecessors shared some responsibility for letting the September 11 attacks occur:
[America’s enemies] will fail because the terrorists of our century are making the same mistake that the followers of other totalitarian ideologies made in the last century. They believe that democracies are inherently weak and corrupt and can be brought to their knees. They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lack the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy. Hear the words of Osama bin Laden that explain why he believed he could get away with the attacks of September the 11th, 2001: “We’ve seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier, who is ready to wage cold wars and unprepared to fight long wars ... After a few blows they ran in defeat... [They forgot] about being a world leader ...” End quote.

After September the 11th, 2001, we’ve taught the terrorists a very different lesson. America will not run in defeat, and we will not forget our responsibilities. We have brought down two murderous regimes. We’re driving terrorists from their sanctuaries. We’re putting the terrorists on the run all across the world.
As Think Progress observes, Bush “doesn’t mention any terrorist attack that occurred during his father’s administration.” Nor does he acknowledge the contradiction between this statement in Navy-friendly San Diego and the words uttered by White House spokesman Scott McClellan during a July 2003 press briefing, when McClellan said that Bush “is not one that focuses on blame or finger pointing.” I’m reminded once more of Richard M. Nixon’s observation: “Voters quickly forget what a man says.” Tricky Dick said that, though, before the Internet made it so easy to prove these sorts of contradictions.

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