Monday, June 21, 2004

a quick thank you to Michael Moore

I haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11 yet. But I've heard that it contains a scene that I've been telling people about ever since I first saw it, on 9/11/01, and have wished over and over could be seen by the wider public; the actual moment that Resident Bush heard the news about plans crashing into the World Trade Center. I don't know what channel I was watching when I saw the scene originally, but it was probably C-SPAN or CNN, or maybe the Int'l News Channel.

As I recall, it went something like this:

Bush is sitting in front of a classroom of 2nd graders, reading to them from a big children's book.

An aide steps into the frame from the right, goes up to Bush, and whispers something in his ear.

Bush nods, as if he's heard something that he expected to hear or at least wasn't that surprised by. It's an "OK, I see" nod. He doesn't even turn in surprise toward the aide. He goes back to reading.

Bush continues reading, blithely, as if he hasn't just heard that not one, but two planes have struck at the heart of capitalism and that the twin towers of the World Trade Center are burning.

I want to thank Michael Moore for including this scene because I believe it is one of the most damning pieces of evidence we have that Bush II is either criminally disengaged, or criminally complacent, or criminally complicit. Pick one.



At 6/21/2004 11:05 AM, Blogger Algernon said...


I've found a link to info about that classroom footage ...
Hmm. Oddly, it's giving me an error. Here it is longhand (copy and paste):

The Memory Hole is a good source of otherwise difficult-to-find (i.e., repressed) information.


At 6/21/2004 10:55 PM, Blogger tess said...

Oh good lord. The real thing (it's working again, no errors here, by the way) was even more stupefying to watch than my recollection. Again and again the thought goes through my head, "How can he look so relaxed? How, moreoever, how can the leader of the Free World just sit there as if nothing is wrong?" Reminds me weirdly of Reagan at his best, all facade and fluffy stuffing, zero substance. This clip is so worth watching. I will watch it on election day, that's for sure.


At 6/22/2004 9:31 AM, Blogger Algernon said...

Bush behavior at that moment is, for me, the single most disturbing event in the whole tragedy. What was he thinking? is the question that leaps to mind, watching him in this video.

I have a tendency to jump to conspiracy theories-- in part because I trust my government so little (a sad sign of the times)-- but if it were somehow (God forbid) a big conspiracy and Bush was already aware of what was going on, wouldn't his handles have proceeded in the logical fashion and immediately removed him to a safe place, as per their mandate?

His appearance at the school was pure publicity and was on his public agenda-- it's not inconceivable that the attackers could have targeted him and it would be a reasonable precaution to take the president immediately to safety. Yet he just sat there-- and his staff and the Secret Service just let him sit there-- for at least five full minutes after receiving news of the second jet striking the Twin Towers.

I'd give good money to know what was on not only Bush's mind but the minds of his staffers and handlers who knew what was going on during that five minutes.

At 6/22/2004 11:14 AM, Blogger tess said...

This is just conjecture, but judging from his intense expression, my guess is, "s - p - o - t ... okay, sound it out ... sp - o - t ... spo - t ... spot!"

But, seriously now folks ... I tried to watch the tiny image of his face for some nuance of mature concern, and saw flashes of, well, maybe something like it. You have a good point that he was on a public visit, and probably still had that uppermost in his mind, even past the point at which the rest of us were staring at our televisions in horrified stupefaction.

Perhaps because he could not see the devastation, he did not realize the gravity of the event? I have to admit that when I first heard over the phone from my father that "a plane crashed into the World Trade Center" my first imagining was of a small plane, and an accident at that. But that couldn't have been the case for Bush.

For one thing, he knew, based on a briefing he'd gotten quite recently (if not that very morning, if memory serves) that terrorists were threatening to use commercial jet planes to attack American targets. For another, according to press coverage of the schoolroom incident, what his aide said to him was "America is under attack." Now, for my money, I can't see FDR or Kennedy or even Dick Nixon behaving as Bush did when hearing the phrase, "America is under attack."

But I think I have an explanation. Bush is widely known as a delegator -- it's supposed to be his strong suit. I believe the reason he did nothing more than sit and wait for the reading lesson to be over was that he simply felt that it was someone else's job to deal with the terrorism thing. His job was to be president, and at that moment, his presidential script said he was supposed to be inspiring 2nd graders, not dealing with an international crisis. So there he sat.

Makes me wonder where VP Halliburton was at that exact moment ... probably getting out his shovel to dig himself that secret underground bunker.


At 6/25/2004 11:00 PM, Blogger Algernon said...

A moderate/conservative friend informed me of this article by Christopher Hitchens, journalist and former writer for The Nation. Wow, is he ever hopping mad about Moore's film! I've yet to see it myself but I am moved by Hitchens's critique; I've always been a bit leery of Moore's objectivity (well, he's not) and Hitchens makes it sound like Moore is an unqualified disaster as a documentarist. Food for thought.


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