Just Above Sunset
March 28, 2004: Sometimes folks do actually throw the bums out... Flash Report from Paris
happens in France may have no implications for what happens in the United States. Ric
Erickson sends this fast update on today’s elections there. Folks got fed
up with the conservative folks in charge. They turned them out. It wasn’t even close. I guess they didn’t like
all the cuts in services and benefits, nor the “public safety trumps anyone’s rights” crackdown on crime,
nor the rest of the “take care of yourself and don’t expect anything from your government” policies.
28.03 - Left KOs Right
Here’s the trust of that:
Now that Against All Enemies has gone into its fifth printing, and the 9/11 commission hearings have generated a huge amount of press coverage -- and, judging from the anecdotal evidence, a fair amount of kitchen table and coffee break conversation as well -- it looks like the events of the past week may be evolving into something much more significant than just another political mud fight.
Something is stirring in the national subconscious -- a kind of sudden return of questions and doubts that were largely repressed in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In other words, what we have here may be the product of a failure to communicate -- a condition which Richard Clarke and the 9/11 Commission are now rectifying.
One of the things I found most remarkable about 9/11 -- at least when compared to past national traumas like the Kennedy assassination or Pearl Harbor -- was how willing the American public was to put questions of responsibility and accountability out of mind, seemingly indefinitely. …
Well, after a discussion of the Warren Commission and the investigations of the Pearl Harbor attack, which this fellow suggests “seemed to produce a rush to forget -- not the attacks, but the hidden events and decisions that led up to the attacks,” he suggests the Bush administration and the war hawks were perfectly happy to encourage the same reaction, for reasons which are now becoming clearer.
But now, thanks to Clarke, and to the attention he focused on this week's public hearings, it seems like “the collective mental block has been broken. Suddenly, people want to know the story. They want information, speculation, opinion. And they want to discuss it -- making this the political equivalent of Freud's talking cure.”
I have no idea what conclusions people will ultimately draw from this re-examination. I don't know whether or how it will influence their opinions of President Bush, or of the war on terrorism, or of American foreign policy in general.
To the extent the administration was banking on freezing (in amber, as Clarke might put it) public perceptions of Bush's performance as a "war president," this is probably bad for them. On the other hand, if they yell loud enough, and dump enough money into advertising, maybe they can force the new conventional wisdom to harden in the same mold as the old conventional wisdom.
Still, the fact that the general embargo on critical thinking about 9/11 has been broken is very encouraging. The truth -- the whole truth -- is probably too much to expect, given the narrow limits of what's considered "legitimate" debate in this country, and the powerful forces lined up in defense of ignorance. But at least people are asking questions, and looking for answers. Compared to where we were just a few months ago, that's an encouraging sign.
Which means that whatever the accuracy, or completeness, of Richard Clarke's story, he's done a great public service simply by breaking the strange spell of public apathy that's been choking off debate about what happened on 9/11 - and why - for the past two and a half years.
And the Bush folks ought to think about what just happened in France.
This issue updated and published on...
Paris readers add nine hours....