(by Joseph Curl, WashingtonTimes.com) NEW YORK — President Bush and first lady Laura Bush yesterday descended
somberly into the rubble-strewn chasm of ground zero to set afloat two
wreaths of red, white and blue flowers in reflecting pools at the site
where Islamic terrorists killed 2,749 persons five years ago today.
The president and his wife, holding hands, walked down a long ramp into
the hole where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
gray afternoon threatening rain, they stepped through a phalanx of
soldiers holding U.S. flags, accompanied by former New York Mayor
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Gov. George E. Pataki and current Mayor Michael R.
The Bushes stood silently for more than a minute,
watching as the wreaths floated into the center of the water-filled
wooden boxes, where families of those killed on September 11 will lay
After two weeks of speeches connecting the war in
Iraq with the global war on terrorism and urging Americans to stay the
course, Mr. Bush let the wordless image speak for itself.
He and Mrs. Bush walked away with heads bowed as bagpipes played “America the Beautiful.”
Earlier in the day, Vice President Dick Cheney said the nation has
“made significant progress” in its fight against the Islamic extremists
who perpetrated the attacks.
“We’ve done enormous damage to al Qaeda, to the leadership of al Qaeda,” Mr. Cheney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Democrats kept up their political battle against the Bush
administration’s response to terrorism, particularly the 2003 invasion
“Cheney represents what’s wrong with this
administration policy,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat,
said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” arguing that the administration has not
shown “enough smarts” in its policies. “And that’s why the things in
Iraq are getting worse.”
Mr. Bush will address Americans tonight at 9 in a speech from the Oval Office.
The polarization of the nation was evident near ground zero, where
hundreds of protesters chanted “Out of Iraq now” and held signs that
said “Bush lied.”
The immediate aftermath five years ago
brought Americans together and sent Mr. Bush’s popularity soaring,
especially after he grabbed a bullhorn at ground zero on Sept. 14,
2001, and promised that “the people who knocked these buildings down
will hear all of us soon.”
But support for the president
plummeted after U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq increased. Now,
both parties are engaged in a war of words in the lead-up to the
November elections, which some analysts say could cost the Republicans
control of one or both congressional chambers.
speeches and a White House statement on his administration’s policy on
detention of suspected terrorists, the president laid out the case for
war in Iraq, justified his counterterrorism efforts, including a
terrorist-surveillance program, and warned Americans that the United
States is safer but still not safe from attack.
speech, he mentioned al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden 17 times; in
another, he divulged details of plots that have been foiled — the
first time many of those details had been released.
time, we’re not waiting for our enemies to gather in strength. This
time, we’re confronting them before they gain the capacity to inflict
unspeakable damage on the world. And we’re confronting their hateful
ideology before it fully takes root,” Mr. Bush said last week,
defending his doctrine of pre-emption laid out in the months after the
A new poll released yesterday found his effort may be having some effect.
Just over half of those surveyed by ABC News think the country is safer
from attack than on September 11, and that the fight against terrorism
is going well. While other polls show American support for the Iraq war
waning, the administration has gone on the offensive to paint Iraq as
crucial to the war on terrorism.
Democrats have charged that
the president is politicizing the anniversary of the September 11
attacks, but Mr. Bush plans only silent observances today.
plans no comments during appearances this morning when he meets with
New York City firefighters and police, or at noon in the Pennsylvania
field where one plane crashed after passengers battled terrorists, or
at the Pentagon crash site this afternoon. Then he will speak to the
Mr. Bush has led an orchestrated campaign to
remind Americans of the attacks. He has framed the November elections
as a choice between Republicans, who say they are best able to secure
America and have done so for five years, and Democrats, some of whom
have opposed the president’s efforts at every turn.
Democrats oppose Mr. Bush’s contention that Iraq is crucial to the war on terror.
“There is simply no way to overstate how Iraq has subverted our efforts
to free the world from global terror,” said Sen. John Kerry,
Massachusetts Democrat, who Mr. Bush defeated in the 2004 election.
“The demagogic drumbeat about fighting terrorists over there instead of
here — even though they weren’t in Iraq until we went in, and it’s now
a civil war we’re fighting — has compromised America’s real interests
and made us less safe than we ought to be five years after 9/11.”
Today’s three stops will mark the first time the president has visited
each site since 2002. During the past two years, the anniversary fell
on a weekend day, and the Bushes did not travel to all three sites.
Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted
with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not
constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product,
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1. a) How are President and Mrs. Bush commemorating 9/11?
Democrat leaders have accused President Bush of politicizing (to give a
political tone or character to) the anniversary of the September 11th
attacks. Do you think this is true? Explain your answer.
2. a) What time is President Bush giving a speech to the nation tonight?
b) Why should all Americans watch the speech? Explain your answer.
3. What three issues did President Bush address in his three recent speeches?
4. a) The Bush administration promotes a doctrine of pre-emption for fighting terrorists. Define pre-emption. (For a paper discussing the tactic of pre-emption click here.)
Proponents of pre-emption see it as a prudent response to terrorism and
rogue states, which may not be deterred from threatening or using
weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Critics contend that the concept
will exacerbate distrust of the U.S. on the part of allies and
potential partners and may make rogue states more risk-prone. With
which do you agree? Why?
5. Why is it important for Americans to understand the nature of the fight that we are in?
For an additional article on President Bush’s visit to New York, go to NYPost.com.
For a special report from the New York Post on 9/11, including photos and videos, click here.
For a commentary (opinion article) on 9/11, go to NYSun.com.
For an article about a survivor of the Pentagon attack, click here.
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