September 9, 2002

Sign of the Times

The Times Said Bush Blew the Opportunity of 2002

The New York Times has always bent over backwards to see the good in George W. Bush, to give him the benefit of the doubt every bit as much as if he had actually been elected president of the United States. For this they are to be commended. Or maybe not. But in any case, when the New York Times gets around to saying that Bush has done "not much" with the "opportunity" created by the September 11 tragedy, it is something to make note of. (see "An Uncertain Trumpet")

After September 11 Bush said, "In the sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens, we have glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self. We've been offered a unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass."

In later speeches he asked Americans to move beyond the "culture of selfishness" and embrace a "new ethic of responsibility."

Ha! What a laugh! The Times cannot say that of course. It has to pretend Bush's scripts are really something more than a well-written public relations campaign. "Mr. Bush had the words right. His problem was his failure to give them meaning, either because he did not know what had to be done or because what had to be done exceeded his political will."

That's putting it very nicely. The idea that Bush was doing any more than putting in a good performance is as ludicrous as his declarations that "they hate us because we are free. They hate what they say in this room, a freely elected government."

Bush's words about forswearing the "culture of selfishness" had about as much meaning to him as if he'd been reading Chinese. Actions speak louder than words. What could he possibly know about it?

Ahh, but to seek balance, the Times must load Bush with some superlative praise, which evokes some fantasy leader, certainly not the real George W. Bush. "In his defense, Mr. Bush has been a busy and burdened man, and as the nation's leader, he has pushed us forward on several fronts."

Puh-leese. You are really stretching it. We have seen this man for a few years now. We're not blind. They draw this cartoon character for us. Does anyone believe this image? He may even be "busy and burdened," but only in the course of seeking his own narrowly partisan agenda. And he has certainly done nothing to make him in any real sense, "the nation's leader."

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