Monday, September 06, 2004

9/06 - Time To Have A Look At Bush's Leadership And Verifiable Performance

Today is 9/06, and you'll know what I mean shortly. Though 9/11 has often been described as something that ought not be used for political reasons (and ought not to be), Bush has violated this to the point where adhering to this would only be a handicap in determining who ought to be our president in 2005.

Many on the Right, and many Republicans, have over the months since 9/11 cast aspersions that it was Clinton's fault, for this and that reason (neglecting this, overemphasizing that) that 9/11 happened, and that Bush wasn't responsible, even though he was president when 9/11 happened, i.e. it occurred on his watch, and for over 10 months at that point (how long does it take to start doing your job?).

But that's not the point of little essay, just part of the motivation. What is 9/06? It's about who is more fit to be our commander-in-chief, and an examination of Bush claims that he is the heroic and decisive leader we need in this time of historical crisis.

9:06 AM

Bush is in a Booker Elementary School second-grader classroom. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, enters the room and whispers into his ear, "A second plane hit the other tower, and America's under attack."

Intelligence expert James Bamford describes Bush's reaction: "Immediately [after Card speaks to Bush] an expression of befuddlement passe[s] across the President's face. Then, having just been told that the country was under attack, the Commander in Chief appear[s] uninterested in further details. He never ask[s] if there had been any additional threats, where the attacks were coming from, how to best protect the country from further attacks.... Instead, in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor, he simply turn[s] back to the matter at hand: the day's photo op."

At 9:06am, Bush knew we were under attack, that not just any plane crashed into the WTC, but a hijacked plane. Bush did nothing, and sat with children for over 10 minutes, even as another hijacked plane would soon after crash into the Pentagon, and another into the ground in Pennsylvania.

Is this leadership?

Bush and his team didn't need knowledge of the second plane crashing into the WTC to know America was under attack. It was already well known that Flight 11 had been hijacked, as the pilot had secretly turned on communications from the plane to ground control (allowing them to overhear the hijackers), and as two of the flight attendants had been on the phone with authorities describing dead passengers, stabbed flight attendants, bombs, and hijackers in the cockpit.

This all happened well before 9:06am, but something else occurred at 9:06am that leaves no doubt what was going on:

9:06 AM

All air traffic facilities nationwide are notified that the Flight 11 crash into the WTC was probably a hijacking. [House Committee 9/21/01; Newsday 9/23/01]

Indeed, at 8:43am it was known by NORAD that Flight 175 (2nd plane into WTC) was hijacked, and this information must have been transmitted to Bush, or everyone in a leadership position should have been fired.

So, how do we evaluate our commander-in-chief, on the day that "changed everything", on the day that Rudy Guilani thought to himself, "thank God that George W. Bush is president"?

We can only go by the available information. Our commander-in-chief sat in a classroom, continuing a photo op, and reading a children's story, while America was being attacked, while it was known that multiple planes were hijacked, while two of these planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center, and while confusion reigned in our real-time response!

Some leadership.

If anything, the timeline of Flight 77 (which crashed into the Pentagon at 9:38am) will tell us all we need to know about the performance of our commander-in-chief. He was not our commander-in-chief, at that moment, as he was not engaged. If someone ran into the room and told him muggers were assaulting his daughter in the next room, would he just sit there and continue to reading to children, or would he jump up and go help his daughter?

Is he really in charge? How could he not jump into action? If you had told me America was under attack, under my watch, as president, I would have instantly formed a war room. I couldn't imagine being president/commander-in-chief and not engaging with an attack on the country in favor of a photo op with kids reading a story about a goat - just as I couldn't imagine not coming to the defense of a family member being assaulted in the next room.

And the response after that, with the Secret Service flying him all over the country, is even more abominable. What's more important as a first priority: protecting the president, or having the commander-in-chief take action and lead in our defense!

George Washington, the great president, leader, and warrior, must be rolling in his grave, and nodding his head in agreement: George W. Bush must be fired, as he has already shown himself clearly to be unfit to be commander-in-chief!!!

Indeed, he makes one wonder if this is even true, that the president really is our commander-in-chief, and really in charge, or just some symbolic king that needs protection before the protection of our nation that he ought to be leading the defense.

9/06. Today is 9/06. Evaluate accordingly.