Monday, September 11, 2006

A stunning Absence of Leadership

[Note: A slightly different version of this commentary appears on]

As only Republicans (George W. Bush, Rudy Guliani and Michael Bloomberg), have been invited to official NY ceremonies today, many are struck by the misappropriation of a tragedy for partisan purposes. A glaringly partisan and defamatory ABC attack on Democrats, who were not even in power at the time, goes on despite the fact that it was produced by radical "right" Republicans, and based in part on the writings of the White House Assistant Director of Public Affairs. So, today, we have national GOP figures who posture. But we have neither leadership nor honesty in those trying to lead.

Instead of doing the right thing and telling the truth, leading Americans in common purpose, the supposed leader uses every opportunity to exploit a tragedy, manipulate a populace, spend our assets to benefit his donor pool, and grab more power for himself. The good will of all Americans and people around the globe has been squandered. And after all that, he and his fellow chicken-hawks blame critics, who just want real solutions, real effort by the administration (instead of gussied-up pork), and leadership with integrity, not regurgitated revisionism. Now, even the NY Times blames Democrats, at least in part.

The administration and its drones tell us not to be partisan on 9-11, or ever, when the whole past five years, and especially today have been brutally appropriated by this administration as a campaign prop. They defile the lives lost on 9-11 and the sacrifice of those beloved soldiers who only try to serve their country with honor.

They day Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, and George W. Bush took to the airwaves to mislead, abuse, and even to terrorize Americans with their constant fear-mongering, was the day partisanship died. But worse, the day they used the tragic deaths of 2700 people and the four hundred or so who’ve died aroudn the world to terrorism in the past five years following 9-11, to exaggerate beyond recognition a threat, to portend it’s “World War III,” or war with no end is the day Demagoguery replaced republicanism (with a lower-case r).

Think about it. In the past five years, according to Nightly News on NBC this past July, 400 people have died internationally to terrorism (this obviously does not include the Iraq war, which isn’t and wasn’t ever about a terrorist threat or attack by Iraq against us.) That’s fewer than a 100 people a year world-wide. And Bush has the temerity to stake out and put in his crosshairs our Constitution, our system of laws, our right to dissent, our right to information that should be public, our right to a free and open press!

This cannot be called a bipartisan failing in the sense the NY Times means it. How can a minority, closed out from discussion, manipulated out of hearings and votes, disallowed to even read bills before votes be blamed for not being the solution? The Times must be kidding -- or throwing a line to the GOP.

What I do blame Democrats for is not being strong enough to stand up to Bush on Iraq. By so failing, they (at least some of them) also have made the situation worse. But they really had little say in the first place. The truth is also that the Democrats have had more productive solutions (contrasted with Bush with dismantling what truly characterizes this nation). They recommended Homeland Security, which Bush opposed --until he realized it wouldn't fly to oppose it). Bush also by then had figured out how to misuse DHS to enrich cronies. Democrats have proposed better container inspections and better funding of security means. Yet Bush hasn’t either budgeted or appropriated properly. Democrats have consistently called for full implementation of the 9-11 Commission Report recommendations. The Bush administration has no interest in this.

The truth is we are alone. We have no leadership. What poor excuse for it we have is more interested in its own consumption, greed, authoritarianism and raw power. Let’s hope that a true national leader emerges to bring us to a better path. Let’s pray it happens this fall and in 2008. Of all days we must think about the possibilities, how we can each make a difference, and how if only more than 2% of the most hard-core would be more informed, more resistant to revisionism, more attentive, more engaged, we would "have it made." We would be able to both more effectively deal with the real threat terrorism, which still exists, and tackle the other problems which confront us. America would be the participative union of millions all working in common purpose so our government is the best reflection of our best selves.