George W. Bush’s Dreadful 9/11 Speech

President Joe Biden was silent during Saturday’s 9/11 commemoration events. So were former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Former President Donald Trump visited a New York City police precinct and fire station, where he made a few impromptu remarks.

The only president who delivered a formal speech on 9/11 was former President George W. Bush. And it was terrible.

In two ways. First, Bush’s speech was as much about decrying today’s political divisions as it was about remembering the events of Sept. 11. But Bush showed an astonishing lack of self-awareness of the role his own actions played in creating those divisions. And second, Bush helped widen those divisions by endorsing a Rachel Maddow-esque argument that an equivalence exists between the plane-hijacking, murderous terrorists of Sept. 11, 2001, and the Capitol rioters of Jan. 6, 2021 — a comparison that has no basis in fact but has done much to sour the national debate. . .

Bush praised their courage. He praised the courage of Americans who volunteered for the armed forces in the years that followed. And he praised the selflessness of Americans who helped one another at the time. There was great unity in that moment, Bush said. “In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people,” Bush said. But now, those days seem far, far away, and a “malign force” is at work in American life:

When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own. A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.

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