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Venue of Glory and Shame

February 28th, 2004

Saw this in Calpundit, from a news story from The Hill (second story down), about what the GOP might do for their convention in New York this year:

The source, a veteran official of past GOP conventions, said the 50,000 delegates, dignitaries and guests would watch off-site events on giant TV screens. “Now, we’ll go to the deck of the USS Intrepid as the U.S. Marine Corps Band plays the National Anthem,” he said, pretending that he was playing the part of the convention chairman.

“Or, and this is a real possibility, we could see President Bush giving his acceptance speech at Ground Zero,” he added. “It’s clearly a venue they’re considering.”

Now, it’s already bad enough that Bush has taken advantage of 9/11 for his own political purposes. Bad enough that the only good the attack could have brought would have been to unite the nation and bring the world to our door, asking how they could help–and that Bush divided us and pissed away that sympathy by going with the Neoconservatives in their bid to invade Iraq. Bad enough that the GOP chose New York as their convention center in a crass political move to use the deaths of all those people to engender political popularity.

But, giving the acceptance speech at Ground Zero? That generates disgust beyond imagination. Why not hold the nomination celebrations atop the graves of those who died in Iraq? How about Bush wrapping himself in the flags that covered the coffins of those who came home silenced? Maybe Bush could announce his decision on his vice presidential candidate in Arlington National Cemetery?

And even the alternative merits revulsion–using members of the military on a U.S. warship to provide color for a partisan political event? But then, none of this is new for Bush, is it? He used the entire military in part to win the midterms. He turned around an aircraft carrier full of men and women waiting to meet their families, at a cost of more than a millions dollars, so he could fly in as if he were some top gun (he didn’t pilot), and strut around in a flight suit, all for political campaigning and posturing.

Probably neither he nor his people even are aware that using the military in that fashion, or more to the point, using the sacred ground where thousands died to campaign for election, is in some way… well, “distasteful” is not the right word. Maybe, let’s see… “so crass as to be virtually unthinkable” might come closer.

On a related note, the GOP, still trying to squirm out of actually having any responsibility for the intelligence failures that caused Ground Zero to exist in the first place, tried vainly to block the 9/11 Commission (which was only approved far too long after the tragedy, and only if Bush got to hand-pick the members) from getting a much-needed extension in order to do their job. House Speaker Dennis Hastert took point in denying the extension, doing the job that Bush obviously wanted done but couldn’t dare do himself–deny the extension so that Bush wouldn’t be embarrassed too much by having the report released too close to the GOP convention. After all, it would be kind of uncomfortable for Bush to be delivering his acceptance speech at Ground Zero within a few weeks of his own commission talking about his intelligence failures that helped 9/11 become possible.

But the outrage was palpable. Nobody bought into the fiction that Bush wanted it, but Hastert was the bad guy. Everybody saw through the sham, and Hastert had little choice but to do a 180 and allow the commission to do their job they way they felt necessary. This was such a bipartisan necessity that even the Republican-led Commission felt is was of great importance to have more time, whatever the political cost.

One can only hope that the commission finds more than what we already know–that Clinton left Bush with a strategy to fight terrorism, and Bush and his people ignored it, letting security slide in that area because they were focused at the time on the missile shield (remember that?) and the prospect of terrorism was inconvenient to that program. After all, terrorists wouldn’t fire ICBMs, they would sneak attacks in like they did on 9/11; if a nuclear bomb were to be delivered, it would by by surface. But that didn’t sit well with Bush’s plan to pay his contributors billions to create a useless boondoggle.

Notice how the whole missile defense idea kind of disappeared from public view after 9/11? Naturally, it’s still there, though. It’s just overshadowed by Bush’s reckless bent to rack up even more hundreds of billions of dollars more in deficit spending. Your money, being wasted.

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