September 12, 2006

Bush's 9/11 Speech: What He Really Meant

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 1:49 am

Lately I’ve tried to be less political and more thoughtful and considered, but President Bush’s speech tonight sent me through the roof. As a therapeutic exercise for my own sake, I will describe here some of the most egregious rhetorical excesses of the speech.

They murdered people of all colors, creeds, and nationalities — and made war upon the entire free world.

Made war upon the entire free world? Really? Then why doesn’t the entire free world seem to agree? This “free world” phrase harkens back to the Cold War, but doesn’t apply here. Al Qaeda has not declared war on, say, Japan or Norway, but has declared war on the rulers of Saudi Arabia, hardly a free country. It seems Bush’s speechwriters are trying to invoke the Cold War so that we will view the GWOT as the same kind of world-wide generational struggle, with the Iraq War as our generation’s Korean War.

More like the Vietnam War, and look how that turned out.

We saw courage in passengers aboard Flight 93, who recited the 23rd Psalm — and then charged the cockpit.

None too subtle implication that battling the terrorists is a Christian undertaking. Then there’s this:

It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.

Any Christian understands that a calling is a religious term indicating a call from God. Pastors are called to minister. Prophets are called to speak truth to power. Missionaries are called to evangelize. And all of us are called, according to Bush, to fight. This is all very apocalyptic, especially when he speaks of the decisive ideological struggle. Anyone believing in the imminence of the rapture will get the coded message — this is the battle of the end-times, and anyone on the wrong side will be left behind.

And we know that if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us.

Okay, so Saddam Hussein didn’t have nukes, and if he had, he never would have given them to Al Qaeda. But if he had and he did, Al Qaeda would have nuked us. Bush just can’t stop bringing up the nuclear-terrorist scenario, no matter how implausible. The far more important question is what Bush is doing to make sure Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons. The Iraq War has only made Iran stronger and more aggressive.

I’m often asked why we’re in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress, and the United Nations saw the threat — and after 9/11, Saddam’s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.

The UN saw the threat of Saddam Hussein? They saw a regime that was contained, and forced to allow weapons inspectors back in. And the world is safer because Saddam has been removed? I hate to say it, but a contained Saddam was marginally safer for the world than a chaotic breeding ground for more terrorists.

Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.

Did Bush just admit he made a mistake? Whoa!

Whatever “mistakes” have been made in Iraq have resulted in an Anbar Province that is under the control of Al Qaeda, where they can regroup and reorganize and plot attacks on the West. If our safety depends on the outcome in Iraq, it is only so because Bush made it that way.

Osama bin Laden calls this fight “the Third World War” — and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America’s “defeat and disgrace forever.”

And if bin Laden says it, it must be true, because he’s so honest and reliable. Really, who cares what Osama says? I’m more interested in where he is. And why he’s still loose.

This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it is a struggle for civilization. We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations.

Really, his hyperbole is getting ridiculous. Does Bush really believe that Al Qaeda is capable of destroying civilzation? That Al Qaeda could ever destroy our way of life? I mean, it really is annoying not being able to take drinks on the plane, but that’s a long way from bringing down our civilization. 9/11 was a life-changing tragedy for many of us, but not a way-of-life-changing tragedy.

If you have any doubts that our way of life is as frivolous as ever, just take a look at the latest People magazine.

Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country, and we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.

I think he’s telling us that we can’t disagree with him, or criticize him, or second-guess him, or else we’re going to lose the war on terror.


At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty, and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity.

Very biblical language here. Notice that he is not only alluding to the Jews leaving the desert to settle in Canaan, but he is also evoking a return to the Garden of Eden, which of course can only happen after the Battle of Armageddon and Christ’s return. More secret end-times messages to the faithful.

The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did, but not in the way the terrorists intended. Americans united in prayer, came to the aid of neighbors in need, and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word. The spirit of our people is the source of America’s strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.

God is on our side, and we have faith that our God can beat up their god.


  1. *Great* post!

    Comment by Kristy — September 13, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

  2. Thanks Kristy!

    Comment by Bob — September 13, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  3. Excellent post! As is freqently the case for me, I lasted less than five minutes before muting the TV during George’s speech, so I very much appreciate of all the comments and postings from those of you with more endurance…thanks for the concise summaries and highlights. I suppose I would describe myself as a Progressive Christian leaning heavily toward gnosticism and I have to say that I find the Christian Right almost as scary as the Islamic extremists. The only thing that scares me more than two more years of W. in the White House is the idea of he and Dick both kicking the bucket and leaving Nancy Pelosi in charge…I’m fighting cynicism and praying for a (sane and moderate)leader to emerge from somewhere.
    I don’t think W.’s been wearing his WWJD bracelet lately.
    Is it just me, or is anyone else a little nervous?

    Comment by Jody — September 16, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  4. thanks for your commentary on the Bush speech

    it seems to me Bush is becoming a more effective speaker…(well, he couldn’t have gotten much worse)

    and the passion that he conveys about being right and bring “inspired” by people saying they are praying for him gives me the creeps…his presidency is such a tragedy. I was mad at him BEFORE 9/11 (for ignoring the Middle East peace process, rejecting Kyoto and refusing to meet with North Korea) and things got steadily worse after that

    he needs prayers, but frankly I don’t know how he can sleep at night or smile that silly smile knowing he is responsible for thousands of deaths and many thousands more damaged for life (According to that Lancet article our invasion has caused an estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths, but who is counting?)

    also I HATE that oft repeated phrase that we are fighting in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight terrorists here. gee as long as it is not in our backyard we can do whatever we want to bomb, occupy and wreak destruction in other countries…especially if we need their oil–and feel self righteous about it too.


    Comment by Martha — September 18, 2006 @ 8:59 pm

  5. The only accurate statement you made in your dubious commentary is the fact that you used a capital ‘G’ in referenct to the One True God and a small ‘g’ in reference to the Muslim god.

    Al Queda (terrorizm) DOES have the potential to destroy or bring about the destruction of civilization. One only has to look at the changes in the way we live, the decisions we make over the past 20 years or so to see how vastly different our lives really are. I could liken your statements to that of an Ostrich burying his head in the sand.

    As for Iraq, better we fight them there on their soil than here. We need a strong, free and stable Iraq, lead by people who can be trusted to try to do the right thing so the unstable genocidal leaders of Iran and Syria can be offset.

    Jody…. Those ‘Progressive’, ‘Liberal’ or ‘Gnostic’ so called “Christians” are going to get a rude awakening when the “Radical Right” are proven to be just that… RIGHT. When we are taken from this world, leaving behind those who think the “I’m okay, You’re okay” kind of christianity is going to cut it when our Lord calls.

    Comment by Curtis — September 27, 2006 @ 7:34 am

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