The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bush's Speech

Didn't watch the 9/11 movie last night--did however read the reviews in Variety and Hollywood Reporter, which suggested, contrary to political ranting on the Left and Right, that blame was spread fairly evenly across the political spectrum.  I was interested in Bush's speech, and read the full text this morning.

You know?  That wasn't a bad speech, and I would have actually respected it, and considered it presidential, with just one change: an open admission that Iraq began on an error, and that we are cleaning up the mess we created, that has led to AT LEAST ten times more civilian casualties as America experienced on 9/11.  I can see it as an honest mistake, for the best of intentions.  But the endless conjoining of Hussein's regime with terrorism is being done with full awareness that his political base still largely believes that there is such a direct connection.  In my mind, he used weasel words, and to fail to lay out the situation clearly, he opens himself to serious charges of attempting to re-write history, to try to help people forget that the reason we WENT to Iraq isn't the reason we're being given for why we're still there.
It may be possible to reconcile the gap, but Bush had a chance last night, and chose not to take is tempted to suggest for political reasons.  Fine.  That is, I suppose, his right, and in an election year possibly the only course a political animal can take. But it saddens me.  We gave him so much trust after 9/11. And right now about 60% of Americans feel that trust was abused.   Only time will tell if their perceptions are accurate, but this morning, it feels to me that last night was Bush's last opportunity to really come clean and be a leader...and he chose to throw it away.

The speech was rousing, and patriotic, and optimistic...and a glaring attempt to live out his remaining months in an alternate history in which we were never, ever told that Hussein was a clear and present danger--and in which that danger was proven to be demonstrably false.  Some cling to reports of degraded biochemical agents roughly as toxic as Black Flag as evidence that the original reports were right.  To me, this is just sad.

If only our leader could say: "we were wrong. We are terribly sorry.  Now, let's find the best way to make this right."  I could respect that, I really could.   And now, it's just too late.

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