Monday, September 13, 2004

The Rocket We Haven't Launched

Okay, Democrats have got to start using this weapon. Zell Miller, defending his preposterous speech to the RNC on the Wall Street Journal's Why Democrats Should Be Arrested and Held Without Food in the Basement page, actually uses 9/11 to explain his flip-flop on Kerry's character:

But, again, timing is everything. I made that introduction in March 2001--six months before terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11.

In other words, Kerry was a strong, good man before 9/11, but after 9/11, he became a skunk. Or something. Say 9/11 and it doesn't count! (If for some reason you missed it, go immediately to the Daily Show's website and click on "Zell on Earth" so you can get the flavor of the assault. And click here for the Carpetbagger's refutation of his, er, substantive arguments.)

Why doesn't Kerry start using this tactic when he's accused of flip-flopping? He could just sort of bark "9/11" at people the way the Republicans do, until they whimper off to write stories about the force of his character.

Seriously, though, why hasn't Kerry accused the Republicans of fundamentally misunderstanding the implications of 9/11? They keep saying this about us, but it was Republicans who wanted to invade an irrelevant country, pulling troops out of the war on terror; it was Republicans who used 9/11 to alienate our allies, rather than unify them; it was Republicans who squandered the biggest opportunity in history to unify Americans and the world against a common enemy, instead dividing us and playing petty politics with our safety. They thought 9/11 meant business as usual--another opportunity for political gain, another lever to use against the Democrats. They were profoundly wrong, and we should be saying so.

9/11 did not change the way they thought, and it should have.

On September 11, I crossed out of New York over the Williamsburg Bridge about 3:00 in the afternoon, hoping that the bridges were safe (we had no phone, internet or media contact with the world and really didn't know what was going on). There were people lined up there passing out bottles of water; half of Brooklyn had come out of their houses to see if they could help. And the next day, on a streetcorner, a young woman had set up a little table with a sign that said, "Want to talk?" And people were just gathered around, talking about whatever was on their minds.

And it wasn't just New York. I remember the first time I saw a bumper sticker that said, Texas Loves New York, and I thought, since when? But the whole country came together. Of course, this spirit couldn't last; but it could have been mobilized. Instead, it was corrupted, and it's still being corrupted by demagogues like Zell Miller.

They speak for the Republican Party. And they're saying, 9/11 is our tragedy, not yours. 9/11 belongs to a political party, to an ideology, not to all Americans. For that they should be ashamed, and voted out of office in a landslide.