Some additional thoughts on the Bush legacy: As I’ve said before, the Bush presidency is pretty much defined by 9/11 and the resultant “War on Terror”. He’d be in sad shape running for reelection on the remainder of his accomplishments, a point which seems undisputed even by Karl Rove based on the campaign rhetoric offered to date. So the question I posed to Ted/Phil last night is really the crux of the biscuit. Are we safer now than before the War on Terror? If not, then Bush has spent lots of lives and dollars for naught. If so, then we can go on to debate whether that safety was achieved as a result of G.W.’s leadership and whether we want it to continue.
So are we safer? Bush often points out that there has not been an act of terror on domestic soil since 9/11. True, but is that consequence or serendipity? President Clinton didn’t have a domestic terror attack by foreign operatives on his watch. Neither did Bush’s dad. Bush had one of the worst attacks ever occur during his tenure. I don’t believe the security policies of Clinton made me safer than the ones Bush had in place once he took office. I don’t believe we can blame Bush or his administration for 9/11. And I don’t think we can credit them for not having had an attack since. If Bush and the boys busted up a major plot, it would have been front page news. Have they nipped a few in the bud? Sure, but so did Carter, Nixon, and the whole gang. It’s part of their job.
The part we seem to be missing here is that it is virtually impossible to prevent all possible acts of terror. If someone is willing to martyr themselves, their chance of success gets a lot higher. Think of this for yourself. If you decided you had nothing to live for and were willing or even eager to die in an effort to exact revenge on others, do you think you could succeed in an act of terror? Could you smuggle a weapon into work? Could you get into the WalMart with a bomb? Could you hijack a city bus and drive it off a bridge? Probably. And if many of us had this similar desire, some of us would surely succeed. Preventing all of us from acting would require a police state which restricted personal freedoms to a point where we would be living in a society which would be safe and yet miserably oppressive. Which, under Bush’s foreign policy, would ironically justify some other country launching a preemptive attack to free us.