Blame Bush, but with Balance

Trump has a point about Bush and 9/11.

As is his wont, this week Donald Trump lit off another firestorm, this time by - shock! - criticizing George W. Bush.

You'd think the Left would have thoroughly covered this ground, having accused the longsuffering W. of everything short of cannibalism.  For all the "Bush lied, thousands died" nonsense, however, the Left never came right out and blamed George W. Bush for the 9/11 terrorist attacks that occurred on his watch.

No doubt they wanted to, though, which is why the media so rejoiced in mock horror when Trump mentioned the two in the same sentence.  What could be better, they can attack two Republicans with the same news report!

Except, of course, Trump never did actually blame Bush for 9/11.  Let's do something few liberal journalists do and look at what he actually said:

I think I’m much more competent than all of them. I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.  He was president, OK? . . . Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.

Where the Buck Stops

It may pain conservatives to admit it, but Mr. Trump has a point, especially when he emphasized that he was not actually blaming Mr. Bush for the terrorist attacks.  It's good to know that Mr. Trump isn't a Truther!

Because the plain fact is, the 9/11 hijackers succeeded for two reasons: Mr. Bush himself did not take the repeated warnings as seriously as he might have done, and our various security agencies hated each other more than they hated terrorists and didn't share important intelligence which might have shone a spotlight on what was really going on.  None of this is controversial; the official report said as much.

Now, in no way does this mean 9/11 was Mr. Bush's fault.  Was the attack on Pearl Harbor FDR's fault?  Of course not, the attack was entirely the responsibility of the Empire of Japan.

However, it was FDR who, as president, did not take his intelligence warnings quite seriously enough, or communicate them with sufficient emphasis to his generals and admirals in the field.  It is perfectly fair to say that if FDR had been just that little bit more on the ball, Pearl Harbor would have been more of an even fight.  The same is true with Mr. Bush and 9/11.

What's wrong with Mr. Trump pointing out the fact that, as President, Mr. Bush was responsible for everything of national importance?  Mr. Trump certainly wouldn't be a perfect president, no human being can be.  All he was doing was noting that, when Jeb Bush said his brother "kept us safe," that was very far from the truth - particularly considering that Mr. Trump himself is a New Yorker and experienced the attack up close and personal.

In fact, 18 months before 9/11, Mr. Trump himself warned of just such an event, even naming Osama bin Laden as a likely suspect!

This doesn't necessarily mean that Mr. Trump would have done a better job, although his trademark "You're Fired!" might have had a salutary effect on our generally incompetent security agencies.  It also doesn't mean that Mr. Bush doesn't care about saving American lives; even the thought would be ridiculous.

It does, however, make one thing usefully clear: For all his showmanship and bravado, Mr. Trump truly does understand that the job of President of the United States has life and death consequences.  Real people die in horrible ways when the President screws up.  Contrast this with Hillary Clinton, whose attitude towards American deaths was and still is an appalling "What difference does it make?"

Furthermore, with Trump trumpeting how he is determined to do better, it suggests that he wants to learn from mistakes - his own and everyone else's.  Unfortunately, George W. Bush failed to do this - as his own brother Jeb pointed out in his book Immigration Wars:

In addition to the Mexican drug cartels, the fact that several of the 9/11 terrorists entered the country lawfully under a leaky immigration system has heightened national security concerns.

Well, given that the hijackers were immigrants who had overstayed their visas or used obviously fraudulent ones in the first place, you'd certainly hope their actions would heighten national security concerns!  Unfortunately, you'd be wrong: George W. Bush took no effective action to secure our borders, and dozens of Americans were killed or maimed as a direct result of this negligence

Too harsh, you say?  Have we already forgotten Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber?  Mr. Tsarnaev and his family entered the United States in 2002, as traditional and professing Muslims, well after 9/11 under Bush's continuing presidency.  FDR rounded up innocent Americans of Japanese descent who meant no harm, but at least he also stopped any more potential 5th columnists from coming in.

Mr. Bush couldn't be bothered to implement the obvious, common-sense action of stopping Muslim immigration - resulting in 6 dead Americans and 280 injured, many severely and permanently.

If Mr. Trump occupies the Oval Office, there will be major mistakes made, almost certainly really big ones.  He will make decisions that cost American lives, maybe lots of them.

It's a relief to know that he takes that responsibility seriously.  That's Presidential, by any definition.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Immigration.
Reader Comments

Actually Roosevelt wanted a war with Japan and most likely did know about the coming attack on Pearl. Two points: Radio direction finding out of Settle, Washington, San Francisco, California, and San Diego, California the day before the attack placed the Japanese fleet 300 miles North West from Hawaii. The progress of the Japanese fleet was reported to Washington DC every day. The DC records have conveniently gone missing. The logs from the radio direction finding from the three bases still exist.They give the three compass directions of the Japanese Fleet's position and one only needs to plot all three as vectors to see where they intercept to know where the fleet was. Point two, the two US aircraft carriers were ordered out of Pearl and sent South East away from the approaching Japanese fleet just in time. Roosevelt wanted us hurt, but he didn't want to give up the carriers.
So the question is: Did Bush imitate Roosevelt or was he just incompetent? I vote for incompetent.

October 19, 2015 11:29 PM

Who had the greatest responsibility for 9/11?

Certainly President Bush has to receive some of the blame. It was on his watch that it happened so he cannot avoid this responsibility. He was, without a doubt totally oriented to national issues (as vs. international, military and war issues).

However, the lion's share belongs to Clinton. He was largely a sexually starved president trying to place his seeds everyplace that became available. The various building bombings were his responsibility. The naval ship disaster was his responsibility. Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States and this action certainly made him an enemy who should have been captured or destroyed when the opportunity existed. Instead, he was out golfing and refused to authorize an attach until he finished his rounds and much too late to make a difference. I believe he did warn Bush about the need to do something but it was, firstly, his responsibility to get it done. He has gotten away without the criticism that he rightly deserved.

We should all realize that the responsibility largely goes back to a number of presidents who did not understand the lack of cooperation amongst the various watch-dog departments. Without doubt this probably should have been corrected back to the era of Jimmy Carter.

October 20, 2015 12:46 PM

One minor correction: it's not quite accurate that the flawed response to intelligence was a case of agencies hating each other. Congress had imposed restrictions -- at the Left's behest -- on their sharing information they had.

October 20, 2015 1:53 PM

I agree with both Barney and John. Much of this is the usual desire to appear to be "nice" what we currently term politically correct. We love the Muslim people, and open our arms to them while their doctrine declares that our blood is required by their god. In my opinion, G.W. Bush reacted wrongly and ignored history. We were justified to go into Afghanistan, but were wrong to team up with the tribes to do our dirty work. We should have gone after Taliban leadership ourselves, routed out Ben Laden ourselves, then left the country. Iran was a total screw-up and we shouldn't have gone there. Now they have modern equipment, and Iran has no local opposing force. As usual, we made things worse, not better.

October 20, 2015 2:09 PM

To John, your correction appreciated. I remain very troubled that Clinton has gotten away with virtually no responsibility for what will probably go down in history as the second Pearl Harbor.

October 20, 2015 3:11 PM

Why would anyone expect Mr. Clinton to be blamed for anything? He's a Democrat and Democrats can do no wrong. Hillary put the name of a CIA agent on an unsecured server, for example, and nobody official seems to care. That is a prison offense all by itself.

Also, it was Clinton who told bin Laden that we were tracking his satellite phone, so he stopped using it.

October 20, 2015 5:49 PM

Interestingly, it is never mentioned that FDR not only rounded up Japanese living on the West Coast where there was fear of an attack, but Itialian immigrants as well

November 9, 2015 11:02 AM

There is something subtly troubling in what Mr. Trump said. First, Mr. Bush's culpability has been rehashed to nausea and is entirely irrelevant to everything going on now. No one should care whether he is blameless or could have done a better job.

Here is the problem in what Mr. Trump said (beyond the fact that he said anything). "The World Trade Center came down under his REIGN." (Capitals mine.)

American Presidents do not reign. They serve. That Mr. Trump is unaware of the role of the President should disqualify him from being considered for the job.

November 16, 2015 10:32 PM
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