Tuesday, August 31, 2004
We admit that we have always been put off by a certain element of preening self-infatuation in the writings of William Saletan. We did not anticipate, therefore, that we would be put off by an altogether different quality in the Slate article excerpted below: the delirious ferocity Saletan displays in pulverizing the artificially-inflated testicles of our Commander-in-Chief, as with repeated, savage blows from a ball-peen hammer:
Pardon me for asking, but where exactly is the heroism in this story? Where, indeed, is the heroism in anything Bush has done before 9/11 or since? . . . .(Okay, we admit it: our testosterone count is not really that high. We're just angling for a link from Des Femmes.)
OK, so Bush stood there [at Ground Zero]. He "supported," in a Clintonesque sense, the people who were doing something. He touched the mayor. As Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times over the weekend, "When he got off the helicopter, he put his arm around the back of my neck and said, 'What can I do for you?' It was a personal thing: 'I know what you've been through, and what I can do to support you?' "
Amid all this touching, did Bush put himself in any peril? He certainly did. As Giuliani explained to the convention audience:When President Bush came here on September 14, 2001, the Secret Service was not really happy about his remaining in the area so long. With buildings still unstable, with fires raging below ground of 2,000 degrees or more, there was good reason for their concern. Well, the president remained there. And talked to everyone .... [A construction worker] grabbed the president of the United States in this massive bear hug, and he started squeezing him. And the Secret Service agent standing next to me, who wasn't happy about any of this, instead of running over and getting the president out of this grip, puts his finger in my face and he says to me, "If this guy hurts the president, Giuliani, you're finished."This is Bush's heroism? Showing up three days later, "remaining in the area," and enduring a hug?
The only moment of physical bravery any of last night's speakers could find in Bush's life was his secret trip to Iraq. "As I think about his leadership," Kerik recalled, "I think of the courage it took for our commander in chief to land on an airstrip in the dark of night, a world away, to be with our troops on Thanksgiving."
Thanksgiving? You mean, six months after we captured the airport and Bush declared victory?
And isn't "the dark of night" normally a term we use to describe the preferred arrival and departure time of people who aren't exactly overflowing with courage?
Or is Kerik pointing out the difficulty of landing a plane in the dark? Is he unaware, perhaps, that Bush wasn't flying the plane? That once again, as in Vietnam, somebody else was doing the hard part and Bush was along for the ride? That Air Force One has more security systems than any other vehicle on Earth? That Bush went to Baghdad to "be with" the troops in the same way he went to New York to "be with" the firefighters? That waiting for a safe time and place to "be with" people who have braved unsafe places at unsafe times is the difference between heroism and a photo op? . . . .
Watching the attacks on Kerry and the glorification of Bush reminds me of something Dole said in his speech to the Republican convention eight years ago. It was "demeaning to the nation," Dole argued, to be governed by people "who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned."
You tell me which of this year's presidential candidates that statement best describes.