Bush Flip-Flops on Bin Laden

[EXCERPTED FROM "Bush Flip-Flops on Bin Laden."]

In the four years plus since the 9/11 attacks, the simplest way to gauge President Bush's changing political fortunes has been his changing attitude towards Osama Bin Laden.  In the Bush playbook, the threat posed by Bin Laden danger is directly proportional to the threat to the President's political standing.

Trying to fight back the growing public outcry over his illegal domestic wiretapping program, President Bush used the Bin Laden bogeyman once again during his remarks Wednesday at the National Security Agency.  Bush lashed out at his critics:

All I would ask them to do is listen to the words of Osama bin Laden and take him seriously. When he says he's going to hurt the American people again, or try to, he means it. I take it seriously, and the people of NSA take it seriously.

Bush, of course, did not take Bin Laden seriously in three years ago.  Questioned about his silence regarding Bin Laden in the months following the American failure to capture the Al Qaeda chieftain in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, a nonchalant Bush on March 13, 2002 downplayed his significance:

So I don't know where he is.  You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you...I'll repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him.

Bush may have been embarrassed by his failure to capture Bin Laden in 2002, but by the fall of 2004, he faced the prospect of American voters who seemed to recall the murder of 3,000 of their countrymen.  In the third presidential debate with John Kerry, a childlike Bush on October 13, 2004 tried for a "do over" of his statement two and a half years earlier:

Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations. Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden.

Which brings us full circle.  In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush used the specter of Osama Bin Laden to rally what had been a faltering presidency.  In a show of frontier bravado, Bush talked tough about Bin Laden just days after the 9/11 attacks:

There's an old poster out west, as I recall, that said, "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

Now, President Bush is worried about his approval ratings, which have dipped back into the 30's.  It must be time to worry about Bin Laden again.

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1 Comment

I'll write a check to the first Democratic Presidential candidate who makes "Catching bin Laden" a plank in their platform. What if that's what we ran on? "Democrats: We'll actually catch that sonofabitch bin Laden."
by bluenc 2006-01-25 08:46PM | 0 recs


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