Friday, April 09, 2004
The lead editorial in today's Times contains statements that would have seemed extraordinary (in the mainstream press) a couple of months ago:
Warnings were issued, meetings were held. But Ms. Rice was utterly unconvincing when she tried to portray Al Qaeda as anything approaching a top concern for the White House.For how much longer will U.S. citizens be obliged to withstand this barrage of truth? Won't there be rending of garments in the streets, tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth?
If President Bush were not making 9/11 the center of his re-election campaign, it might be possible for the country to settle on a realistic vision of how the White House handled the threat posed by Al Qaeda before the terrible attacks on New York and Washington occurred. The administration tried to behave responsibly, but it missed the boat.
Ms. Rice was at her weakest in her testimony before the independent commission investigating the 9/11 attacks when she attempted to portray Mr. Bush himself as a hands-on administrator with a particular concern about terror threats.
If Ms. Rice were not set on burnishing the commander in chief's image as the hero of 9/11, she might have been able to admit that Mr. Bush is a hierarchical manager who expects his immediate underlings to run things, and who guessed wrong about what deserved the administration's most immediate and intense attention.
The real challenge came after the Afghan invasion, when Mr. Bush had to decide what to do next — rethink the outdated world view his advisers had brought into office, or snap back into old reflexes and go after Iraq, the enemy of the last generation. It was then that he chose the wrong path.