For the past 7 years, I have felt 9-11 was like a really bad case of abuse on a national scale. I don’t think America really knew how to handle it. How could we? It seemed to change everything, but nothing anyone did in response really seemed to change anything. We went through all the stages of grief, except instead of acceptance we bought a lot of flags, started singing “God Bless America,” watched the Taliban get pummeled, and then we sort of moved on.
The W Years
At the time, I thought Bush’s presidency was ruined. What could he have done? After the invasion of Iraq and the troubles that eventually spread throughout it all, the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction . . . I just thought, Bush can’t win. I didn’t hate him as a president, I just thought he inherited an impossible situation. But he did win. The Democrats’ best option was that bad. If I’m not mistaken (which would be shocking) I think Bush’s take in the election was higher than his approval rating. That is to say, he got 51% of the vote while only 42% of America approved of his performance as president. I guessed on those numbers, but I don’t think either of them are far off. Yikes.
In the second W term, the W stood for Waiting. We were just waiting for the next batch of candidates. I think the whole world was waiting. I think Osama bin Laden has been in a cave somewhere just scratching his head and saying, “Man, I can’t believe he’s still president. I’m out of ideas.” A quarter of America still approves of how he’s doing . . . but that’s not good. It’s twice as good as Congress’s approval rating (12% last I checked).
It leads me to believe that America is just fed up with the whole government. We want to start over. We want to see a president on TV that doesn’t remind us of 9/11. We are desperate for a fresh start. We want a guy who, policy be damned, commands respect, inspires hope, and unites like-spirited Americans who are anything but like-minded. I say “we” knowing there are a great deal of people who wouldn’t agree with these statements. But I speak for them nonetheless, because . . . it’s my blog.
But I’m focusing now on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I recently came to the conclusion that, disappointed as 75% of America is in Dubya, had we known in November of 2000 that within the year, America would suffer a major terrorist attack on our own soil, the majority of America (myself included) would have wanted the Texan and the Evil Genius at the helm. I refuse to call George W. Bush the worst president of all time or even include him in the argument, because in the 8 years since I first voted for him, he has carried us past a great tragedy.
Call the Taliban a scapegoat. Call Osama bin Laden our common enemy. Call Iraq the country we had no business attacking. But I think George W. Bush was the one America has blamed the most. I truly believe that all the negative trends in America, all the major sources of dissatisfaction in the American public, have some roots in 9-11. After 9-11, everybody said, “We will never forget,” but most everybody did. I think the negative effects of that tragedy linger on oppresively, but we thought Bush would have done something about them by now. We don’t associate our country’s problems with the numbers 9 and 11 anymore, we associate them with the letter W.
(What did 9-11 have to do with Katrina, you ask? I think the Bush administration has been completely disorganized from September 2001 on. I think on some level, a culture of hopelessness and purposelessness overtook the federal government. A better leader would have done a better job, but no qualified applicants stepped forward for the job in 2004 because 9-11 was still only 3 years in the past and frankly, the Oval Office was damaged goods in the eyes of most people capable of leading this country. So they Waited, with a capital W.)
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe W would have stunk even without 9-11. Maybe our country would have recovered if anyone else had been in office. But I respect George W. Bush because he took it. He ran again for president when being president had proven to be a crappy job. He served his country, which is more than I can say for myself. And quite honestly, I can’t wait to read his memoirs.