Mike Allen: Noted in The Building?

Thursday’s Washington Post has an article, Bush Cites 9/11 On All Manner Of Questions, sure to upset Karl Rove. The punchline of the story is that, regardless of what the topic is, Bush will almost invariably make reference to 9/11:

…President Bush paused in his Labor Day remarks about jobs and told his audience of union members, “I want you to think back to that fateful day, September the 11th, and what happened afterwards …[snip]… In the past six weeks, Bush has referred to “9/11” or Sept. 11, 2001, in arguing for his energy policy and in response to questions about campaign fundraising, tax cuts, unemployment, the deficit, airport security, Afghanistan and the length, cost and death toll of the Iraq occupation.

I suppose the innnocent explanation, cited in the article, is that 9/11 is always on Bush’s mind. I’m even prepared to accept that as true, but that doesn’t make it appropriate–and probably makes it inapproptiate–to use the tragedy as a smokescreen whenever the topic turns to something Bush would rather not discuss. For example, here’s my favorite:

“Every day, I’m reminded about what 9/11 means to America,” Bush said when asked in July about the $170 million budget for his primary campaign, where he has no opponent. “We’re still threatened,” he said, explaining that he wants to “continue doing my job, and my job will be to work to make America more secure.”(*)

There’s a lot more, read the whole thing.


(*) Even I doubted that Bush would really answer a question about fundraising thusly, so I did some Googling and eventually found the transcript, from July 30th, 2003. In fairness to Bush, he did address the question; in fairness to the Post reporter, Bush immediately segued to 9/11 without ever mentioning his primary war chest or the $2000 contributors:

QUESTION: Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?

BUSH: Just watch. Keep going.

QUESTION: And with 15 fund-raisers scheduled for the summer months, do you worry about the perception that you’re unduly attentive to the interests of people who can afford to spend $2,000 to see you?

BUSH: I think American people, now that they’ve realized I’m going to seek re-election, expect me to seek re-election. They expect me to actually do what candidates do.

And so you’re right, I’ll be spending some time going out and asking the American people to support me.

But most of my time, as I say in my speeches — as I’m sure you’ve been bored to tears listening to — is that there’s a time for politics, and that’s going to be later on. I’ve got a lot to do and I will continue doing my job. And my job will be to work to make America more secure.

Steve asked the question about this al-Qaeda possible attack. Every day I am reminded that our nation is still vulnerable. Every day I’m reminded about what 9-11 means to America.

That’s a lesson, by the way, I’ll never forget, the lesson of 9-11, because, and I remember right after 9-11 saying that this will be a different kind of war, but it’s a war. And sometimes there’ll be action and sometimes there won’t, but we’re still threatened.