Tuesday, November 29, 2005

9/11 is over

Better late than never. I neglected to link to this excellent piece by Howard Fineman in Newsweek over the Thanksgiving weekend -- a review of the state of affairs in Washington while so many Washingtonians were away. I generally go up and down on Fineman, but he's immensely readable and, here, he's right on the mark:

A chapter has just ended in the life of the country, the chapter that began on 9/11. We came together in the aftermath of that still-unimaginable catastrophe.

The emotion of unity lasted long enough to get the president reelected a year ago. My sense was that the voters were not going to give Osama & Co. the satisfaction of ousting Bush, almost no matter what, and yet the insular and not particularly ept John Kerry almost won. Bush claimed a mandate. By the statistical standards of history, he was justified in doing so. The Second Inaugural Address he gave was astonishing in its neo-Wilsonian sweep. The rhetoric was grand. But the country wasn’t buying.

So as the year winds down, the post-9/11 consensus has vanished, blown away by the bloody predations of evildoers in Iraq; by the growing belief that Bush was sloppy at best, dishonest at worst, in claiming Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, and that the dictator was itching to use them; and by the farrago of ineptitude called FEMA.

Most Americans no longer believe the central justification that was offered for war in Iraq. They no longer believe that the president is an honest man or an effectively strong leader. They no longer believe that going to war in Iraq made us safer here at home. And they are beginning to think that maybe we should just get the hell out.

There are challenges ahead, some seemingly insurmountable, but I think it's important to move on outside the shadow of 9/11. It was truly a day that shall live on in infamy, but it must not be allowed to cloud our judgement.

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