Terrorist in the Oval Office


Like it or loathe it, President Bush’s speech from the Oval Office on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks may be one of the handful of addresses that historians consult about his presidency.

This anniversary address has become his political gospel and national-security doctrine joined into one. It has come to define him even more than the traditional source material like his State of the Union speeches and even his two inaugural addresses and Republican acceptance speeches at the national conventions.

Bush now says he is leading nothing less than a "struggle for civilization." It is a fight "to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations," not only in the West but in the Middle East.

As expected, Bush called for national unity. But he did so in just one sentence at the end of the speech, without the standard "come, let us reason together" floral decorations around it.

His unity message was that his express train is loading up for the battlefront and the country can get on board to fight radical Islam or be left at the station, to be at the mercy of nuke-wielding jihadists.

His threat assessments were loaded with menace.

"We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes," he said. They "remain determined to attack America and kill our citizens."

On this one day, with images of planes flying into the Twin Towers and the ashen faces of survivors clutching American flags, no one could take exception to these statements or call them exaggerations. But it was his next leap — linking the outcome of the Iraq war to the destiny of the United States and the world — where he is encountering difficulty.

He tried to use the words of Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders to show that radical Islam regards Iraq as crucial to the outcome of its worldwide jihad against the United States. If they are not defeated, they will use Iraq as a springboard for attacks against the West.

Al Qaeda has, indeed, declared Iraq as a major front in their war. And yet battlefront reports and U.S. command and intelligence say the Iraq war has degenerated into something much more complicated.

This has now become a battle between Muslim sects, primarily Sunni terrorists and Shiite militias. Al Qaeda attacks had fallen off lately but may soon get worse, particularly in western provinces where a vacuum has been created by the removal of U.S. forces to help secure Baghdad.

Between the lines of Bush’s speech were unmistakable barbs at his critics who want a change in an Iraq strategy that they regard as careening downhill.

He invoked the names of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, noting that the struggles they undertook were so long and difficult that neither lived to see the victories. The unspoken message was that their successors in the Democratic Party aren’t worthy of them.

Implicitly, Bush also seemed to be questioning whether the current American generation _ which has reduced his approval ratings below 40 percent in some polls before he embarked on his round of speeches to rally the nation _ was equal to those who fought World War II and the Cold War. If the United States falters, it will "leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons," said Bush.

Bush’s original justification for the Iraq war was to remove weapons of mass destruction, including possible nuclear weapons, from Iraq. None was found. Presumably, he is now talking about Iran, which is a military problem several orders of magnitude higher in difficulty and danger than Iraq.

Besides a little collective guilt directed at Democrats, Bush’s speech had an edge to it of a public shaming of doubters of all denomination. These presumably include a small but growing list of Republicans in Congress who have decided they can’t stand for re-election without advocating some kind of change in Bush’s no-end-in-sight strategy.

Some of the Republicans could be helped by an expected jump in the polls for Bush as a result of his September media blitz. Whether it will last long enough to help his faltering presidency is the big question.

(John Hall is the senior Washington correspondent of Media General News Service. E-mail to jhall(at)mediageneral.com.)


  1. Bobinthebox

    …as reported by many who worked at the towers…months before 9/11 many unusual security operations took place…including power losses…neil bush was in charge of security…unusual tenants were renting a floor in the upper level…all the intelligence agencies had an office in building 7…there is plenty of individual testimony which would prove probable cause our government was involved and in fact the inventors of it…

  2. liz

    Mr. Bush has ignored the struggling inside America. He is the great divider. he is a man of complete lawlessness. He has no decency. Under Bush, people suffering from a SPIROCHETE have lost their care in America. It is TUSKEGEE REPLAYING in front of your eyes people and you remain BLIND> many Americans got their care STOPPED BY BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD during the past few months and weeks and BUSH is ALLOWING TUSKEGEE PART TWO NOW> As we all sit and scream about the war, the insides of this country are rotting. When an insurance company I have NO BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH is calling the shots in my care of my illness by limiting the practitioners, hauling them into medical boards, refusing reimbursement for BORRELIA SPIROCHETE CARE>,,, then MR BUSH HAS FAILED AMERICA> I have been failed by my fellow citizens as well who DO NOT CARE THAT TUSKEGEE IS IS REPLAY UNDER BUSHCOINC

  3. Phil

    If the United States falters, it will “leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons”

    Well, that part at least is true. He just doesn’t mention that it’s the US and Israel who are trying to make it that way.

  4. David

    The United States has already faltered. The Middle East is over run by Terrorists. Perhaps not all have nuclear weapons, but thay all have AK-47s and know how to use them.
    It is true, someone else will have to clean up this mess that Bush started since Bush has no idea or wants it to end. His speech had nothing new to say. It was the usual Put the Fear into us, that we have heard too many times before. If Bush was honest and really wanted to end the situation we are in, he would resign, along with the entire cabinet and VP. We can’t expect or hope for impeachment besides, what good will it do at this stage.
    The only thing we as Americans have left, is our vote, as long as we don’t use Electronic Machines. Use your vote carefully, a little research can help you chose wisely.

  5. I really think that Impeachment of Bush and his entire Administration is too little, too late. If our votes are stolen Again in this Midterm Election, I am afraid that it will be too late to undo all the damage that this President and His Rubber Stamp Republican Majority has done to our country.
    David, would you help us out and tell us just How we can go about ‘protecting’ the integrity of our vote. What must we watch out for ? We all know that the Diebold machines are rigged, and that many of the people that are supposed to be protecting the integrity of the Votes cast are not doing their jobs. Tell us, David, so we can know what to watch out for..as we go to the Polls.
    The election in November is our best chance to sweep out the House and the Senate and get rid of the stranglehold this Republican Majority has had for the past 12 Years. It is past time to quit blaming President Clinton for what, essentially, you the voters have helped to create. Become informed. Vote, but be sure you Vote Wisely. VJS

  6. Lysistrata

    Maybe it would help if we the voters could demand to use paper instead of Diebold. Just dreaming, and paper is no guaranty either.

  7. South Point Man

    This whole horrible mess and these true abominations of evilness can be stopped by figuring out how the thermate demolition charges got into the WTC buildings.

    It isn’t known yet if those in the White House ordered the charges to be placed, but they are at least complicit accessories to the fact. And that’s good enough to get them a very, very long stay in Leavenworth.

    The number one priority: how did the thermate cutting charges get into the WTC buildings?

    Solve this and these genuinely grotesque White House creeps are nailed to the wall.