“Everything may have changed on Sept. 11 two years ago, but not necessarily in the ways one would have expected. American politics is the most striking case in point. Given the bipartisan unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on America, one had reason to hope for a revival of the early Cold War adage that ‘politics stops at the water’s edge.’ And indeed, except for the lunatic fringes of the Democratic left, this seemed to be the case for better than a year after the attack.The turning point seems to have been the 2002 election. Having lost control of the Senate, the Democrats lost control of themselves. The party is now dominated by 21st-century Copperheads who exult in every setback and refuse to acknowledge any success–all because they have convinced themselves that it is the ‘Bush administration,’ rather than their country, that is fighting the war.”
James Lileks describes the moment that you know you’re about to face one of these “21st-century Copperheads” (in print or on the ‘Net at least):
Two years later I take a certain grim comfort in some people’s disinterest in the war; if you’d told me two years ago that people would be piling on the President and bitching about slow progress in Iraq, I would have known in a second that the nation hadn’t suffered another attack. When the precise location of Madonna’s tongue is big news, you can bet the hospitals aren’t full of smallpox victims. Of course some people are impatient with those who still recall the shock of 9/11; the same people were crowding the message boards of internet sites on the afternoon of the attacks, eager to blame everyone but the hijackers. They hate this nation. In their hearts, they hate humanity. They would rather cheer the perfect devils than come to the aid of a compromised angel. They can talk for hours about how wrong it was to kill babies, busboys, businessmen, receptionists, janitors, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers – and then they lean towards you, eyes wide, and they say the fatal word:But.
And then you realize that the eulogy is just a preface. All that concern for the dead is nothing more than the knuckle-cracking of an organist who’s going to play an E minor chord until we all agree we had it coming.
I’ve no doubt that if Seattle or Boston or Manhattan goes up in a bright white flash there will be those who blame it all on Bush. We squandered the world’s good will. We threw away the opportunity to atone, and lashed out. Really? You want to see lashing out? Imagine Kabul and Mecca and Baghdad and Tehran on 9/14 crowned with mushroom clouds: that’s lashing out. Imagine the President in the National Cathedral castigating Islam instead of sitting next to an Imam who’s giving a homily. Mosques burned, oil fields occupied, smart bombs slamming into Syrian palaces. We could have gone full Roman on anyone we wanted, but we didn’t. And we won’t.
Which is why this war will be long.
Lawrence F. Kaplan puts it this way: are you a September 10th American, or a September 11th American?
UPDATE: Orrin Judd has some thoughts on Kaplan’s essay.
ANOTHER UPDATE: So does Andrew Sullivan.