Saturday, July 02, 2005


I don't agree with everything in this column, but this part is about right:

The president has no one to blame but himself. The color-coded terror alerts, the repeated John Ashcroft press conferences announcing imminent Armageddon during election season, the endless exploitation of 9/11 have all taken their numbing toll. Fear itself is the emotional card Mr. Bush chose to overplay, and when he plays it now, he is the boy who cried wolf. That's why a film director engaging in utter fantasy can arouse more anxiety about a possible attack on America than our actual commander in chief hitting us with the supposed truth.

If anything, we're back where we were in the lazy summer of 2001, when the president was busy in Crawford ignoring an intelligence report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" and the news media were more preoccupied with a rash of "Jaws"-like shark attacks than with Al Qaeda. The sharks are back, and the "missing girl" drama of Natalee Holloway has echoed the Chandra Levy ur-text. Even the World Trade Center is making a comeback, if we are to believe that the new Freedom Bunker unveiled for ground zero might ever be built.

AS those on all sides of the Iraq argument have said, the only way for Mr. Bush to break through this torpor is to tell Americans the truth. Donald Rumsfeld did exactly that when he said a week ago that the insurgency in Iraq might last as long as 12 years. If that's so, then what? Go ahead and argue that pulling out precipitously or setting a precise exit timetable is each a bad option, guaranteeing that Iraq will become even more of a jihad central than this ill-conceived war has already made it. But what is Plan C?