Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rudolph The Long-Nosed Republican

My jaw almost dropped when Rudolph Giuliani appeared on ABC-TV and insisted to George Stephanopoulos that we had had no terrorist attacks under George Walker Bush, completely forgetting that the September 11, 2001 attacks happened on Bush's watch. Many people found this ironic, given that Giuliani was mayor of New York when the 9/11 attacks happened and has used the event to buttress his own national security credentials. Stephanopoulos apologized for not calling Rudy on the mistake, but Giuliani continues to insist that President Obama has done nothing to make us safer.
Giuliani has since said that he meant we'd had no terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, 2001 under Bush. Okay, I'll give him that, because I'm a charitable sort of guy, but even that remark isn't entirely true. How about the 2001 anthrax attacks? Okay, so Giuliani meant there had been no Islamic terror attacks under Bush after 9/11, and pointed that out as much. "[A]s far as we know," he said of the anthrax attacks, "that was not done in the name of Islamic terrorism."
Even if you grant that, you have to consider the SUV attack at the University of North Carolina, where a Muslim inspired by Muhammad Atta intentionally hit nine people with his sport utility vehicle to punish America, as well as the 2002 Washington, D.C.-area sniper attacks orchestrated by one John Allen Muhammad, a member of the Nation of Islam, as an act of jihad. If Giuliani were to insist that he was only referring to foreign Islamic terrorism, I couldn't grant any benefit of the doubt there. Too many qualifiers. But that still wouldn't be true, as an Egyptian militant shot up a El Al (the Israeli national airline) ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport in 2002. All of this happened under Bush.
Giuliani isn't the only Republican to try to imply that 9/11 was not Bush's fault. Bill Clinton was blamed for 9/11 by right-wingers almost since September 12, 2001, on the grounds that he left Bush a flawed national intelligence network . . . and also because he had failed to capture Osama bin Laden. So had Bush. And Bush didn't seem too serious about bin Laden even after the August 2001 memo indicating bin Laden's desire to strike inside the United States. This is all part of an orchestrated attempt to paint the Democrats as soft on terrorism, even as Obama demonstrates his own seriousness in dealing with the issue. What's appalling about Giuliani is that he built his post-mayoral career and political prospects on the idea that he's a security expert who knows how to combat enemy commandos bent on acts of war against American citizens. He's not. He did a great job keeping New York City together on September 11, 2001 and in the weeks after, but he didn't do anything that might have enhanced the security of New York City. If anything, he did something that weakened it by keeping the city central command center in the original 7 World Trade Center building after David Dinkins, his predecessor, advised him to move it to Brooklyn when Giuliani took over the mayor's office in 1994. The advice was ignored.
Even Larry King, not exactly a hardball interviewer, caught Giuliani rewriting history. Giuliani complained about Obama waiting three days to address the would-be "underwear bomber" on that Christmas Day flight into Detroit while Bush waited twice as long to address Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," on that flight into Boston. Giuliani insisted the Reid incident happened before 9/11. It happened three months after 9/11.
George Stephanopoulos was deeply ashamed of his lapse of journalistic professionalism, and he made that clear. Giuliani, by contrast, has no shame.

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