The president had a chance to level with the American public Tuesday night in a televised speech at Fort Bragg, NC. Once again, the chance to come clean was squandered. Instead of addressing reasonable concerns of the public, he may now be remembered as the president who cried “9/11!” one time too many.
Invoking the attacks of Sept. 11 has been a parlor game at the White House and Congress for years now. But to invoke a national tragedy just because it is convenient to help further the agenda of the day is as despicable today as it has been the numerous times the administration has done so in the past.
The president claims that if we do not stop terrorism in Iraq, it will come to our shores again. This makes about as much sense as the claim made last century that if we do not stop communism in Vietnam, it will take root in the United States.
If the “terrorists” — a conveniently vague term that apparently can include any group at the administration’s whim — truly intend to attack on American soil, why would they waste their time in Iraq?
We are told that on Sept. 11 it only took a few men with a twisted calling and box cutters to attack some of the nation’s most emblematic buildings, the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Why would the next attack be any different, and why would it have to be devised in Iraq as the president claims?
Americans watching the speech were hoping for a sign that the Bush administration’s practice of misconstruing facts to fit its agenda is a matter of the past. Instead they saw a canned speech that contained nothing that had not been said before. No strategy to win the conflict was offered, nor did the president address criticism over military readiness, slumping enlistment numbers, lack of equipment such as body armor or the fact that most of the few allies the United States had in the conflict have left.
To make matters worse, the one time that the troops in front of which the president held his speech applauded, the round of applause was initiated by a White House staff member. Even this attempt at honesty was turned into a charade.
The public was told there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to rally support for military action. The claim was questionable at best even at the time the administration made the claim. Unsurprisingly, the term “weapons of mass destruction” was absent from Tuesday’s speech. Why? None have been found.
The day Bush won a second term he said, “I intend to spend my political capital.” Now there remains very little of said capital and even less credibility. For this the president has only himself to blame. Tuesday’s speech is only one in a series of many events that have led some of the public to question the president’s honesty and credibility.