The president’s address to the nation on Sept. 11 was the closing scene of the first act of the 2006 elections. While Americans were at the beach, running kids to camp or trying to figure out how high gasoline will go, Bush and endangered Republicans were auditioning a message to lift the sagging polls. The speech fit the Republican campaign schedule.
This was no ordinary presidential address. Bush entered our living rooms on a day when Americans paused to honor those who died at the hands of terrorists five years ago. In the words of political analyst Brent Budowsky, “Who was not moved by the courage of our police and fire fighters rushing into burning buildings to save our fellow Americans? … The infamy of the crime was met with the unified will and united spirit of a United America backed by the decent opinion of men and women in every corner of the world.
“Never before in our history have our people reacted to such infamy, to such hurt, with a greater and more powerful proof of our courage and nobility.
“And never before in our history has any leader of this country exploited such an event with such smallness, such partisanship, such disunity, such contempt and vindictiveness. Never before in our history has any leader of our country surrendered in the challenge of inspiring our people to bravery and valor and tried to make our people act like a timid and fearful nation.”
The closing scene on Sept. 11, 2006, was Bush spinning selfish big lies to tie the heinous Iraq war to terrorism, to justify the tens of thousands of dead Iraqis and Americans and exhort the country to reject its impulse to compassion, collective peace and unity. The speech was a crass, cheap insult.