Monday, September 12, 2005

Bogus Resolve May Win Elections, But It Doesn't Make Us Safer

America observed the fourth anniversary of the terror attacks of 2001 yesterday with heartfelt ceremonies honoring those who died and the brave first responders who sacrificed their lives to lessen that day's horrible toll. And, the day after that observance, somewhere in our nation, husbands, wives, children and parents are staring longingly at pictures of loved ones killed and remembering the day that forever changed their lives.

At the same time, somewhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden is laughing his ass off knowing that it was he who caused all this pain, he who became the central object of the American President's contrived determination and he who, four years later, is still running free to plan his next attack.

George W. Bush's approval rating soared into the 90s when he traveled to Manhattan on September 14, 2001, stood with rescue workers amid the World Trade Center ruins and proclaimed "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon."

Stirring stuff, to be sure. But, as we have found about this president over the last five years, it was simply a well-timed photo op, which he had preceded the day before by saying that he would get the man responsible for our national tragedy, dead or alive.

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him," said a stern President Bush.

Ironically, the man who took such joy last year in accusing John Kerry of being a flip-flopper, changed his mind just six months later.

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority," said the suddenly non-resolute Bush.

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, enough voters bought into Bush's facade of Gary-Cooper determination and steadfastness to return him to the White House last year.

Since then, the Bush administration has done its best to make people forget that it was Al Qaeda, hosted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, that actually attacked our country. And Osama bin Laden has now been on the loose for 1,456 days since our tough-guy Commander-in-Chief vowed to bring him to justice.

There have never been more than 20,000 American troops in Afghanistan – we've had as many as 150,000 deployed in the Iraq quagmire – and we have gotten just about as much of bin Laden as the president's bluster could deliver.

I guess resolve just isn't what it used to be.

Meanwhile, we are approaching 2,000 military dead in Iraq, have turned Baghdad into the "American Idol" of global terrorism and have succeeded only in seeing that country becoming a fully Islamic Republic. I'm sure Osama bin Laden is pretty steamed about that development as well.

The right-wing likes to say that we liberals are helping the terrorists by pointing out how weak the Bush administration has actually been in the true war on terror – to the point of accusing Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq, of "aiding and abetting the enemy."

While I have no doubt that terrorists understand the massive opposition that President Bush has engendered in his own country, they are far more emboldened and enabled by an American leader whose every move is politically motivated, whose resolve is so fleeting and whose threats are so empty.

We are now four years removed from September 11, 2001 and, thanks to Team Bush and the Republican party, are infinitely less safe than we were before the attacks. They have used 9/11 for every conceivable political advantage while doing very little to see that the people who knocked down our buildings and killed our people "hear all of us."

And that is something we should all resolve to never forget.