February 21, 2005

Paul Krugman has another timely column, this time on the likelihood that the Bush Administration will gin up some new "terrorist threat" to take the focus off its floundering domestic programs (in this case, the D.O.A. efforts to gut Social Security):
The ultimate demonstration of Mr. Bush's true priorities was his attempt to appoint Bernard Kerik as homeland security director. Either the administration didn't bother to do even the most basic background checks, or it regarded protecting the nation from terrorists as a matter of so little importance that it didn't matter who was in charge.

My point is that Mr. Bush's critics are falling into an unnecessary trap if they focus only on domestic policies, and allow Mr. Bush to keep his undeserved reputation as someone who keeps Americans safe. National security policy should not be a refuge to which Mr. Bush can flee when his domestic agenda falls apart.
Bush's "undeserved reputation" referred to above is especially nagging. The public gives him credit for preventing another major terrorist attack on American soil in the 3-plus years since 9/11, but it wasn't as if there was anything comparable to that in the 3-plus years before 9/11. For the WTC to fall, it took years of planning, a cadre of dozens of highly motivated wackos, and an incredible string of luck, facilitated by an Administration staffed with Peter Principal rejects and white "recipients" of affirmative action, euphemistically called "neoconservatives", that were too filled with their own arrogant self-importance to pay attention to the signs in front of them.

In short, even if we had done nothing after 9/11, it is still unlikely we would have had to face a similar attack in the last three years, just as we did not face a similar attack in the six-plus years after Oklahoma City. Krugman's point, that the Administration continues to overlook obvious areas where terrorists could attack in favor of ideological boogeymen overseas, does lead to the frightening conclusion that our luck may soon run out.

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