Ed Driscoll

The Big One-Off

James Taranto, writing from “Ground One”, the Dow-Jones building that neighbors the remains of the World Trade Center notes that our success in the War On Terror is what, seemingly paradoxically, emboldens its critics:

It was often said at the time that 9/11 changed everything. That turns out to have been an exaggeration. One thing it did not change is elite liberal opinion–as represented by the press, academia and the Democratic Party–which has fallen back on the adversarial attitudes it developed in the late Cold War era, which is to say the era of Vietnam, Watergate and their aftermath.

Partly, we suppose, this is a matter of intellectual laziness. But partly it is because of an illusory similarity between the Cold War and the war on terror. If you assume 9/11 was a one-off, then the terrorist threat is a distant, abstract one, easy to move to the back of your mind while arguing about such trivia as the infringement of terrorists’ civil liberties.

Thus Los Angeles Times TV critic Samantha Bonar can sneer, in reviewing ABC’s flawed Miniseries “The Path to 9/11,” that “according to ‘The Path,’ the Clinton administration was too concerned with such trifles as respecting international laws and treaties, protecting civil liberties, following diplomatic protocol, displaying cultural sensitivity and pursuing larger goals (like Mideast peace) to bring down the bad guys.” Which is an entirely accurate description of the Clinton administration, even if the picture takes liberties with the facts.

The italicized clause in the paragraph before the preceding one [bolded in this excerpt–Ed] is what the experts call “a big if.” Our enemies, of course, did not intend 9/11 to be a one-off; if it is, it is only because the government–that is to say, the Bush administration–has thus far succeeded in preventing another attack on U.S. soil. Liberals’ blas