Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Compare and contrast: America's two major newspapers offer vastly different takes on the one-year anniversary of the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil.
The New York Times offers a thoughtful, well written piece on September 11, 2001, and how the nation has changed since then.
Although America was bound together by emotion on Sept. 11, 2001, America isn't bound together by emotions. It's bound together by things that transcend emotion, by principles and laws, by ideals of freedom and justice that need constant articulation, perhaps especially when America's virtues seem most self-evident. What we suffered on that day will be an important part of the story of this country. But in the long run it will not be as important a part of the story as what we choose to do in response to what we suffered. It is possible to confuse temperateness with indifference and democracy with indecision, just as it was possible on 9/11 to feel terribly weak in the midst of our undiminished strength. But time will help us make those distinctions, if we continue to seek them out.
Excellent and noble.
In contrast, we have a paper in the nation's capitol that sees the anniversary as an opportunity to criticize the president.
From The Washington Post:
Mr. Bush himself has contributed to the business-as-usual atmosphere. He has done so by devoting much time to political fundraising and by bringing the war into the political arena, thereby putting at risk the national cohesion needed to fight such a war. He has done so by dramatically increasing the budgets for the military and for homeland defense while refusing to find ways to pay for those increases. In defending his favored ideology of tax cuts as though the nation were not at war, as though nothing had changed, he has left himself poorly placed to counsel sacrifice and flexibility in others. And while he has embraced the notion that America must fight for a higher purpose, Mr. Bush has yet to act as though his rhetoric persuades him. It is right that the United States must be fighting for liberty and opportunity and not just against Islamic terrorists, as the president has said. But in practice he still balks at rebuilding Afghanistan, devoting sufficient money for schools in poor countries, and promoting democracy among U.S. allies.
The best that can be said for the Post is that their timing is piss-poor. This type of editorial may have a place -- the argument that we need to pay for the war on terrorism is a valid one -- but the editorial page of the Post on the anniversary of the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans is not it.
Also interesting to note is that the Post treats the war on terror like Congress treats a farm bill -- it's an opportunity to add in pork. Part of the "War on Terror" is funding schools and sending some money to non-existent democratic dissidents in Saudi Arabia.
As far as rebuilding Afghanistan goes -- rebuilding it to what? I mean, when has that country ever been more than a desolate wasteland? You can't re-build something that's never been built.
And the cheap shot directed at the President's fund-raising -- is the president just supposed to ignore the midterm elections? The Post seems to suggest that the President, now a war President, should put himself above partisan politics -- as the Democrats attack his programs.
I predict the Post will be roundly criticized for today's editorial -- which is exactly what it deserves.