Bush Kept Us Safe Apart From…

Steve BenenI’m sure you remember the “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us” scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. But if not, here is the best part:

All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

This comes to mind a lot these days. You may remember back to last week when Patrick Dollard tweeted, “George Bush kept us safe for 8 years and once again Barack Obama fails as terrorists bomb Boston Marathon.” (Of course, Dollard tweeted IN ALL CAPS.) As I noted at the time, Dollard seemed to be forgetting a little thing called 9/11 when almost 3000 people were murdered.

Now conservatives are getting a little more specific in their complaints. Jennifer Rubin wrote, “Unlike Obama’s tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11.” And Eric Bolling said more or less the same thing. In the tradition of Monty Python, Steve Benen at Maddow Blog provided a great response:

Indeed, it’s a little tiresome to hear Republicans argue in effect, “Other than the deadly anthrax attacks, the attack against El Al ticket counter at LAX, the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush’s inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush’s international unpopularity, the former president’s record on counter-terrorism was awesome.”

And then he goes on to explain just how ridiculous this business of the “9/11 exception” is:

For Rubin and Bolling, the response is, in effect, “Yeah, but other than that, he kept us safe.” The problem, of course, is that’s roughly the equivalent of saying other than that iceberg, the Titanic had a pleasant voyage. Other than that one time, Pompeii didn’t have to worry about the nearby volcano. Other than Booth, Lincoln enjoyed his evening at Ford’s Theater.

The argument that Republicans will make tries to skirt this issue, of course. They say, “Sure, but after he understood the threat, he kept us safe!” This often goes along with the contention that “no one could have known” that a terror attack was on the way. But even if everything is granted, the fact remains that terror attacks did happen. It was mostly just dumb luck (and dumb terrorists) who kept us save. Is that Bush’s legacy? I was lucky?


I know you want it:

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Frank Moraes. Bookmark the permalink.

About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Bush Kept Us Safe Apart From…

  1. The nature of terrorism is such — generally low-tech, low-cost methods — that pretty much no administration could "protect us" from it. So I tend not to blame Bush for terrorism that happened during his presidency — not in the "catch the bad guys" way. (In terms of inspiring more terrorism via policy decisions, that’s another matter, but Obama’s little better.)

    Adding a new intelligence agency ("Homeland") was probably dumb (albeit profitable to some) — we already have more information coming in from various spy networks than any of them can possibly process. When I think of Richard Perle getting angry that his warnings weren’t heeded, well, sure, it’s unfortunate they weren’t. I imagine, however, that there are competing prognosticators of future threats all trying to become more influential than the rest. Who could make sense of this nonsense?

    What I DO hold the Bush administration responsible for was its unwillingness to consider any intelligence on Iraq that countered its intention to invade. It’s what several of them did before (ignoring CIA studies of Soviet missile capacity in the late ’70s and commissioning their own study to produce different findings — something Reagan was a big pimper of, those fake findings.)

    All of this illustrates just how useless and wasteful our intelligence services have become. Not that individuals in the FBI, CIA, NSA, the rest of the alphabet soup, aren’t bright and honest. But brightness and honesty don;t matter in an environment where superiors are going to pick and choose the findings they want to see. (A bit like economics, no?)

    I would be surprised if several Chalmers Johnson-types in those agencies aren’t pumping out studies, right now, that show unfettered drone bombing to be a huge mistake (and not just from a moral standpoint.) They’ll keep doing so, and nobody will pay the slightest attention.

    Did you ever see "In The Loop"? That’s a really spot-on piece of satire, very acerbic and quite funny. (Great profanity in it.) It’s about the buildup to an unnamed war, but it’s really about Iraq.

    That Python clip is always a classic. The TV show’s individual episodes, dealing as they did with current events and culture, have dated some, but the movies really hold up well. Some of the stupid arguments people make are apparently just eternal.

  2. @JMF – Absolutely. I don’t blame Bush for the terror attacks. Even the briefing before 9/11 was not all that helpful. Just the same Bush’s reaction and the whole administration attitude toward terrorism was unconscionable. The reason why the terror attacks matter in this case is that conservatives are claiming that Bush kept us safe whereas Obama has not.

    What Richard Clarke said in his book is right: the way we are, there had to be a major terrorist attack before the people of the US would pay attention. Even still, the Clinton administration paid very close attention. And can you imagine how conservatives would have reacted if 9/11 happened on Gore’s watch? Maybe it was best that Bush was president.

    What’s funny about Python is that they were lampooning sixties leftist radicals who were always trying to out purity one another. But now, the leftists have all become reasonable and it is the right that is radical. But even in this there is a difference: the radical left never took over the Democratic Party; the radical right [i]has[/i] taken over the Republican Party.

    I have not seen [i]In the Loop[/i] but I will try to watch it tonight. I am very fond of [i]War Inc.[/i] even though most people think it is a terrible movie. I think it’s just perfect. It might play better now. It might have been too soon in 2008. Also, I’m not sure most Americans even now understand the link between big business and war. I think the intelligence center being behind a Popeye’s is hysterical. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a cult favorite in the coming years.

  3. Most people who don’t enjoy "In The Loop" are put off by the UK accents, not a problem for any BBC fan.

    Of course I’m not glad Bush was "elected" but it may have indeed been for the best. If Gore had been president when the crazies bombed New York and DC, he would have been impeached, I think, and that would have been basically the end of the Democratic party. Even today the brand-identification people believe is "Dems weak on projecting US power, Repubs strong" even though that’s an utter fantasy.

    I’ll have to check out "War, Inc." The SO’s basically in love with Cusack . . .

  4. Also — having watched "Brian" recently, it’s really quite a tame, sweet-natured movie. It’s not about Christianity per se, it’s about groupthink. Anyone who is blinded by their perspective gets mocked. (One of the funniest scenes is Cleese as a Roman soldier who catches Brian painting "Romans go home" on a wall and then gives Brian a lecture on how to conjugate Latin correctly.) It’s amazing that movie caused the controversy it did.

    "Brian" had a lot of poking fun at radical leftists, not all of Python did. Quite a lot poked fun at right-wing twits, and quite a lot was just surrealist silliness. "Grail" has maybe my favorite class-inequality exchange, ever. "That must be the king." "How d’ya know?" "’Cause he ain’t got shit all over ‘im."

  5. @JMF – Well, your SO is right: Cusack is very likable. (But he isn’t aging any better than I am.)

    I definitely get the impression that Cleese is conservative, although not in the modern American way. I think mostly they are moderately liberal–especially Terry Gilliam. And Terry Jones is an intellectual, so he must be. :-) Of course, people get older…

    You are right about [i]Brian[/i]. However, it does poke a bit of fun at how religion is practiced. "Blessed are the cheesemarkers" is an excellent attack on the perfection of the Bible as well as how people interpret it.

  6. Not for publication, really, just an add-on . . .

    I mentioned the "Brian" controversy because the same fellow who wrote "In The Loop" wrote a fictionalized BBC made-for-TV move about the "Brian" brouhaha called "And Now For Something Completely Untrue." It takes the real outrage by religious conservatives at the time and imagines the Pythons’ reaction to it.

    For anyone like yourself who appreciates clever writing, it’s a really terrific script. It personalizes and puts into neat boxes every simplistic impression we’ve ever had of the Pythons (a running gag is Palin being just too nice to offend anyone). It also does so with Python-style cutaways to animations and random tangents.

    There’s a huge flaw, though; it’s directed far too literally. The actors picked to play the Pythons are so spookily reminiscent of the originals that we don’t see any humor or wit in their impersonations; we’re sitting there agape at how perfect the physical casting is. (The actors might well be funny and witty, but because they look so apt for the parts, their efforts to imaginatively become Cleese et. al. are redundant.)

    This is a major curious-fan-only reference; it’s not very good. Just thought I’d throw it your way.

    I’m getting "War, Inc." from interlibrary loan. What makes you think the Cusack my SO loves is John? It’s both, of course (and I love ’em both, too.) John’s movies aren’t as good as they used to be, but I liked one bit in the Stephen King creepy-hotel-room movie. "1408." John plays a ghost story debunker, the movie unfortunately proves him wrong, yet at one point John is trying to get cursed room 1408 from the reticent hotel manager, one Sam Jackson, and Sam just gives up arguing and states: "it’s an evil fucking room."

    If that character and that line existed in every horror movie since "Dracula," and if characters paid attention to Sam Jackson in "I am not shitting you" mode, there would be no horror movies after "Dracula." The world would have been a less full-of-dumb-horror movie place. I’d probably miss "Night Of The Hunter," though, that one was pretty good.

  7. @JMF – Ah. I hadn’t thought about that. Joan is kind of creepy in [i]War Inc.[/i] Do you not have Netflix? I believe it streams there. Also, I noticed you can buy it for one cent on Amazon. That makes it a total of $3. But you may hate it. Let me know.

    Andrea told me about [i]1408[/i], but I don’t recall her liking it too much. I love horror films, but don’t tend to like watching them alone. Andrea is about the only person I know how shares my love of the genre, but she’s 3000 miles away. :-(

Leave a Reply