The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of

Thursday, March 25, 2004

9/11 Hearings

Well, there isn't really a whole lot I can add to the issue. As usual, Peggy Noonan outclasses all other commentators with her thoughtful and serious piece on the hearings today. Peggy clearly understands the importance of the issues and avoids engaging in harsh attacks. She doesn't think the hearings were the right thing to do at this point, but appreciates the respect exhibited by each of the witnesses to their close knit fraternity. As Stuart Benjamin points out, the witnesses all know facts, and were shaped by knowledge, that cannot be disclosed for security reasons and is not possessed by the vast vast majority of commentators. Peggy too seems to understand this and avoids laying blame for specific actions based upon specific intelligence. Everyone has a reason for their actions and the rest of us will never (and can never) know all that went into their decision.

However, if overall blame must be placed, Peggy reserves it for Bill Clinton for creating an atmosphere where long term serious risks were not examined and the focus was on the immediate gratification of sugar coated pet issues. But his fault goes beyond this and reallylies in his lack of moral compass and failure to take risks and do the right thing, polls be dammed, ie: exhibit real leadership
It was a failure of imagination, a failure to envision that a terrible thing could happen, that a particular terrorist group meant to do what it said it would do. There was a sunny and empty-headed assumption that America would stay lucky; after all, we'd been lucky since terrorists hit the World Trade Center in 1993, and that wasn't so bad--just a handful killed. It was a failure to take our enemies seriously. All of us each day have so much we want to do, but the terrorists each day wanted to do one thing: get America. That was an advantage. There was a pass-the-buck mentality that prevails in government, with everyone quick to go on record warning of a threat and then letting the warning itself act as a replacement for action.

And to make it all worse we had, from 1993 to 2001, an essentially unserious president who had no clue what to do with the power he had accrued, or even the popularity, and who squandered both in a need for personal drama and trauma. He had eight solid years to move, but he did not do the hard things he had to do. He left it for the next guy.


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