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Blame Bush, but with Balance

Trump has a point about Bush and 9/11.

By Petrarch  |  October 19, 2015

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.