Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wingnut Logic Escapes Me

CNN’s American Morning interviewed Mike Meehan, the guy behind that tasteless 9/11 billboard in Florida.

I found this quote rather enlightening:
"I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time," Meehan said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning."

Before we get all hysterical, let me clarify that Meehan is referring to the years before the 9/11 attacks. He is well aware that 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch and knows Bush is a Republican. But, he claims President Bush “inherited” the problem of terrorism from Clinton.

You can read a transcript of the entire interview here . However, here’s the nut of his argument:

MIKE MEEHAN, BEHIND CONTROVERSIAL BILLBOARD: Well, the bigger picture, John, that I'm trying to convey to Americans is a reminder of terrorism that is still here. And it was during the Democrat Party of President Clinton that America was first attacked at the USS Cole killing many Americans. Our U.S. embassy in Africa, and even our trade towers in New York were first all attacked by the terrorists on Bill Clinton's watch. And, of course, George Bush pretty well inherited this problem and we had the catastrophe of the trade towers falling.

Wow, it's like he forgot every previous terror attack that ever occurred. His world is a clean slate that begins in the Clinton years. How ... odd.

I don't know about you, but I remember when reports of airline hijackings were a regular part of the nightly news. I remember the American hostage crisis back in the 70s. We all put yellow ribbons around our trees back then. I remember IRA bombings in London. I remember the Munich Olympic Games. I remember a lot of terrorism during both Republican and Democratic presidencies. If you ask me, Mike Meehan is a moron.

However, he's not the only one. This "Bush inherited Clintons problem" thing is a popular wingnut fantasy. So let’s just look at a handy timeline of some major attacks on U.S. targets:

October 23, 1983: Beirut Barracks Bombing. Suicide bombers attack French and American barracks in Beirut. U.S. death toll: 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

December 12, 1983: Kuwait City Bombings. Suicide bombers attack the French and American embassies in Kuwait, as well as a desalination plant and Kuwait’s main oil refinery. In all, six people are killed, none Americans. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

August 8, 1985: Hijacking of the Achille Lauro. Palestinian terrorists hijack a cruise ship off the coast of Egypt. A wheelchair-bound American passenger is thrown overboard and drowns. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

December 21, 1988: Lockerbie bombing, aka, the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 103. Death toll: 270 people, including 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie. 189 of the victims were American. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

February 26, 1993: First World Trade Center Bombing. A car bomb detonates beneath Tower One. Death toll: six. Who was president then? Bill Clinton. He had been inaugurated one month prior, on January 20, 1993.

June 25, 1996: Khobar Towers Bombing. A fuel truck is detonated inside the residential complex housing U.S. Air Force personnel in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Death toll: 20, 19 of them American soldiers. Who was president then? Bill Clinton.

August 7, 1998: U.S. Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Simultaneous car bomb attacks kill hundreds at the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. Death toll: In Nairobi, about 212 (12 of them American). In Dar es Salaam, 11 (none Americans). Who was president then? Bill Clinton.

October 12, 2000: USS Cole Bombings. Suicide bombers attack the U.S. Navy destroyer the USS Cole while in Yemen. Death toll: 17 U.S. sailors. Who was president then? Bill Clinton.

September 11, 2001: the 9/11 Attacks. Who was president then? George W. Bush. He was inaugurated January 20, 2001.

Now, what can we infer from all of this? For one thing, one could argue that Ronald Reagan left as much of a legacy of terrorism as Bill Clinton did. I won’t argue that however, because terrorism has been around forever, and it’s just as silly to claim Ronald Reagan didn’t lick it as it is to blame Bill Clinton for not eradicating it. Mike Meehan is right: terrorism is still here. Guess what: it will be here long after this election is a dim memory in Meehan’s dimentia-addled brain.

But here’s another thing I never understood. Wingnuts love to blame Clinton for not doing anything about terrorism because the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993--one month after he was inaugurated. In that case, how come George W. Bush gets a pass on 9/11, since he was in office a full nine months? Even if you buy into the argument that President Clinton didn’t do enough, what the heck was Bush doing for nine whole months, besides ignoring Presidential Daily Briefings titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.?

President Bush knew about the 1993 World Trade Center attack, he knew about the USS Cole. It’s not like anyone erased the U.S. history tape as soon as Bush came into office. They knew everything the Clinton Administration knew. They didn’t do anything either. Why does Bush get a pass and Clinton doesn’t?

That just never made any sense to me.