Many of us are incensed by the Bush Administration’s lies. (See below and almost any other liberal blog). Still, as sad as it is to admit, we’ve known since at least the 1960s that lying is part and parcel of American politics. While Bush and crew clearly rank up near the top in the audacity and effect of their lies, that may not be their greatest crime. The ultimate sin is how they wasted what could have been.
9-11 was a horrible day. Yet it could and should have served as a catalyst for an American reawakening. In the days that followed, volunteerism soared to what may have been all time highs. The schism between left and right was ignored. We truly felt like a nation. This renewed sense of pride could have been used to build a stronger nation. One simple example (which probably proves I’m a naive dreamer given Bush’s background) is there could have been a concerted effort at energy independence. 9-11 was a far greater rallying cry than Carter’s “moral equivalent of war” ever could have been. Look also at the support we were getting from other nations. At that time they would have freely joined in efforts that could attempt to bring political resolve to bear on solving longstanding international problems. But where are we?
The international support has turned into increased anti-American feeling not only in the Islamic world but among nations we considered allies. Bush then exploited the temporary silence in the left-right wars to shift the neocon revolution into high gear. His administration has allowed the patriotic source of strength to dissipate to the point where divisiveness again rules the day. All this because Bush and the neocons decided to use 9-11 for political advantage, not national advantage.
These are not new ideas. Bill Maher talked about it in his book When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden. George Packer speaks of it in a very fitting fashion in the introduction to The Fight is for Democracy:
September 11 has not ushered in an era of reform. It has not made America or Americans every much better, more civic-minded. It has not replaced market values with democratic values. It has not transformed America from the world’s overwhelming economic and military power into what it has often been in the past — a light of freedom and equality unto the nations.
Given what could have been, the great dissipation is truly scandalous.