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Just a "sniff"

The irony of George Bush's remarking that he detects "a sniff of politics" in the fracas the Democrats are threatening to raise over revelations that Bush had warnings earlier last summer about an apparent terrorist threat is quite plain. The Bush administration's response to terrorism has been politically motivated, through and through.

After Sept. 11, the threat of further terrorist attacks was, if anything, lower than before. If it had been in their power to strike against the United States in greater force, the terrorists surely would have done so. After the attacks, they had that many fewer terrorists capable of further action, that much less money, that many fewer resources to attack again. Perhaps they do have other plans in reserve, options beyond putting a feeble-minded English convert on a plane with bombs in his shoes. But it seems like that might actually have been the worst they had left.

What there has been more of since Sept. 11, however, is political motivation for greater security. If Americans were willing to forgive the system that let the terrorists succeed once, they won't forgive it for allowing it twice — and they are willing to sacrifice some freedoms and convenience to help protect themselves. But let's be clear: The motivation for installing this greater security isn't concern about a suddenly higher human risk, it's the suddenly higher political risk. If the Bush administration had genuinely been more concerned about human risk than politics, they would have acted before (and at higher political cost, to be sure), and not just after, Sept. 11.

Is there a "sniff" of politics in the Democrats' (and some Republicans') concerns about Bush's failure to respond to intelligence gathered last summer? Sure. But if Bush & Co. didn't pose with their noses so high in the air, they'd have already smelled the stench long since coming from their own asses.

May 17, 2002 12:26 PM

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