Thinking back to 9/11/2011, I well recall coming into the house after a run to find the television tuned to an image of a World Trade Center tower smoking and burning against a clear blue sky. At that time, America did not know that our President and Vice President had been briefed by the outgoing administration of Clinton and Gore that terrorists threats were real and imminent. All we knew in the moment is that bad things were happening and the skies above us had gone silent.
I was no fan of the Bush administration well before they swept into office on the backs of a legal decision by a conservative-led Supreme Court. I wasn’t a fan of the electoral shenanigans down in Florida that led to the need for that decision. I considered the entire Bush-Cheney debacle an example of an ideological coup on America.
And I wasn’t wrong about those instincts. Because after 9/11 the Bush administration trumped up arguments to not only attack Afghanistan but to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to invade and devastate Iraq. The supposed weapons of mass destruction waiting to be used against the United States by Saddam Hussein were phantoms of political imagination. And after Osama bin Laden slipped away into Pakistan, the Bush administration sort of lost interest in the man. They had their hands full messing things up in Iraq with no plan and no exit strategy. Meanwhile Donald Rumsfeld offered up the lamest example of military tomfoolery in American history: ““You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
That made me wonder out loud what in the ever-living-fuck America was doing with all the money American taxpayers pumped into the world’s largest, supposedly most powerful military? How could we not be competitively prepared to engage in war if we were spending more than the seven next nations combined?
So Rumsfeld and Co. sent our soldiers into harms’ way with Humvees that lacked armor, vests that were insubstantial and even earplugs that were insufficient to protect the hearing of military personnel. If you don’t believe me on that last part, listen for the advertisements on Sirius radio now offering legal compensation for military personnel whose hearing was damaged in the Iraq debacle.
Meanwhile the mercenary instincts of the Republican guard ––American style––were unleashed through military contractors turned loose in Iraq to run the show and make money hand over fist. This was war profiteering, plain and simple. And Vice President Dick Cheney could sit back and wait for the money to flow his way because his longterm interests in companies such as Halliburton would guarantee him a good return on investment. In the first Gulf War and the second, companies like that likely jumped for joy when the oil wells caught fire. Just an opportunity to make more money.
The Bush-family interests in oil were not neglected either. We had two massive conflicts of interest going on in Iraq and yet the political Right and Fox News cheerleaded our efforts even after they led to the heinous practice of torture and death of people in captivity. It was too ironic that we shipped those captives to a prison camp on the shore of Cuba, a country with whom our country had no formal political ties at the time. The ugliness of the entire enterprise was a disgusting stain on the character of our nation.
Restoration of sanity
The nation temporarily corrected with the election of Barack Obama, whose calm presidential guidance through the aftermath of a Republican-led recession restored America’s economy to global competitiveness. The Trump administration now in power owes its initial success to the momentum established by the Obama years. But rather than thank President Obama for the great job he did on the first three legs of that economic relay, Trump took that baton and waved it in Obama’s face while claiming he did all the work to get there.
Return to inanity
All these competitive issues are hampering America’s ability to sustain its economy and find its place in the peloton of world politics. With naively assumptive rubes like Bush, Cheney and Trump as captains of America’s team, we always squander the lead we’ve built up in any category of governance. Republicans always act like rookie track runners who want to burn up the first part of the race without concern for what comes after. Then the bear jumps on their back and they start to point fingers. “They made me run too fast! There’s no way we could see this coming!”
As a longtime competitive athlete, I have zero pity for people who keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again. And when people additionally lie about their exploits and/or engage in “woulda-coulda-shoulda” claims about what might have happened “if only” people had supported them, it makes me want to barf on their shoes. I would so gladly do so on the shoes of Donald Trump. He is a sickening man at every level. He can’t compete on legitimate playing field, so he cheats and lies and commits fraud. Colludes and conspires, and hires those incompetent only to try to make himself look smart by firing them. He’s an overblown idiot and it’s only too bad Chris Farley is not alive to play him on SNL.
Here are the simple facts: The 9/11 attacks could well have been prevented if Americans had not been misled, deceived and possibly even purposely manipulated by an administration all too eager to capitalize on tragedy to execute its dark comedy on the world.