I was right to sit out 9/11. No one gives a shit where anyone was, how they felt, what was running through their minds. Do they? I certainly don’t, although for those of you who collect such things, I’ll keep it brief: Getting ready for work; shocked; and pissed that it took NPR so long to get their act together. There’s nothing like driving to work, knowing the country is under attack in at least two cities, and hearing Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac” on your preferred news source.
To be sure, though, there was little enough of that. More common, today, was the rueful conservative, like, ohhhhh, Jonah Goldberg:
“Remember 9/11!” once looked like it was going to be a battle cry for the ages up there with “Remember the Alamo!” Now, the only aspect of 9/11 that is acceptable on a bipartisan basis is sadness. Obviously, with that much carnage and suffering there’s a place for the sadness. But why only sadness?
If I had said in late 2001, with bodies still being pulled from the wreckage, anthrax flying through the mail, pandemonium reigning at the airports, and bombs falling on Kabul, that by ‘07 leading Democrats would be ridiculing the idea of the war on terror as a bumper sticker, I’d have been thought mad. If I’d predicted that a third of Democrats would be telling pollsters that Bush knew in advance about 9/11, and that the eleventh of September would become an innocuous date for parental get-togethers to talk about potty-training strategies and phonics for preschoolers, people would have thought I was crazy.
For the record, I know a lot of Democrats, and to my knowledge, none of them think Bush knew in advance about 9/11, although the whole country knows he got a fairly specific memo on the subject a month ahead of time, if that’s what you mean. And I apologize for getting a haircut on the Date That Changed Everything, but my roots were getting embarrassing. By the way, how many people do you know can even tell you the date the Alamo was attacked?
Then there’s James Lileks:
It seemed right away like it would be a big war, three to four years – Afghanistan first, of course, then Iraq, then Iran. The idea that it would have stalled and ended up in diffuse oblique arguments about political timetables would have been immensely depressing. There was a model for this sort of thing, a template. Advance. But that requires cultural confidence, a loose agreement on the goals, the rationale, the nature of the enemy and the endgame. We don’t have those things. Imagine telling someone six years ago Iran would be allowed, by default, to make nuclear weapons. They would wonder what the hell we’d done with half a decade, plus change. What part of 25 years of Death to America didn’t we get, exactly?
Wha-? I missed this memo. I thought the idea was to invade Afghanistan and get Osama bin Hidin’ dead or alive. “Then Iraq, then Iran?” I must have been reading different newspapers. “The idea that it would have stalled and ended up in diffuse oblique arguments about political timetables would have been immensely depressing.” Well, hell yes, but you skipped another immensely depressing part — that before the arguments were about “political timetables,” they were about the massive botching of the job and the refusal of anyone in the administration to take any responsibility for it. And now we’re stuck with a chattering class of neocons stateside who act like a pissy girlfriend who says, “I shouldn’t have to tell you what you did. You should know.”
Ned Flanders manque Rod Dreher:
God, it’s hard to remember how scared we all were then. And that’s nothing to apologize for. Nothing like that had ever happened to our country, at least not the mainland. None of us had any idea what was coming next. …
It was a magnificent feeling we all shared, that national unity in the days and weeks after America was attacked. We all knew it couldn’t last, I guess, but didn’t you think, or at least hope, that something had changed forever, and for the better? As long as America was a victim, we were united domestically, and the world was on our side. When we decided to fight back, that ended that. We fought back foolishly, to be sure, and as Jonah notes, President Bush handled the politics of this thing badly. Big mistakes have been made. We all know that. We all live with that.
He’s big on this, telling others how “we all” feel or felt about whatever. I’m reminded of Tonto — what do you mean “we,” white man? And what’s this “magnificent” stuff? All this revisionist history! I recall a world that stood with us pretty much up until we started rattling sabers at Iraq. I guess that falls under the umbrella of “the politics of this thing,” the stuff that was “handled badly.” Well, when you put it that way…
Enough. Fortunately, we have Britney Spears to distract us. Something we can all enjoy together, as a nation. It’s a magnificent feeling:
Hoping to solve the mystery of how Britney Spears, a seasoned performer with many memorable faux-lesbian and python-related VMAs performances to her credit, came to prance across that Las Vegas stage as listlessly a past-her-prime, breakfast-shift stripper who’d just been shot in a fishnetted haunch with an elephant-grade tranquilizer dart…
“Breakfast-shift stripper” — if that doesn’t make milk squirt out your nose, nothing will.
Wandering back to 9/11…I give a lot of people a lot of slack for almost everything that was said between 9/11 and, say, New Year’s. It was a crazy time for everyone. There was a certain LarryCurlyMoe-ness in the air, only not funny. In one of Alan’s late father’s expressions, no one knew whether to shit their pants or wind their watch. I recall horrible things being said right out loud, and slightly less-horrible things being published in the newspaper. There was a Friday morning, probably the first Friday afterward, when I was sitting in the newsroom near the police scanner, and about every five minutes a call came in to check out some swarthy person seen walking down someone’s street — and this in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If anyone knew what the hell was happening, they weren’t telling. Emotions were high. My BFF Deb and I had a trip to Florida planned for that December, a four-day spa getaway at The Breakers in Palm Beach she’d won in a contest, and she said she thought maybe we should donate it to a firefighter’s widow, because would we even be able to enjoy ourselves? (Reader: We didn’t give it away, and we did enjoy ourselves.)
I wasn’t feeling too good myself. But I got over it. A lot of people got over it. If, six years later, we haven’t made 9/11 a national day of remembrance, all I can say is: The president told us to go shopping when the wound was raw.
Ech. Enough. How about some fun bloggage?
The new Thin Thighs in Two Days: A Clean House in 19 Minutes. Sure.
For once in my life, I’m out in front of a trend, although it would be stretching reality to call me a Spokes-Model:
Meet the beautiful bicycle girls of New York, a breed that bears little resemblance to the hard-charging, Spandex-short-wearing species of 20 years ago. Those women were athletes, pumping the pedals, fighting to win. Getting somewhere. Today’s girls—and one always thinks of them as girls, even if they’re well into their 40’s—are more meandering, their long legs flashing along the pot-holed alleys of SoHo and the boutique-lined bike lanes of the West Village. Eco-conscious and ethereal, they wear flowing frocks and gigantic sunglasses but never helmets. Their hair flutters in the breeze as they leave a trail of swooning male pedestrians in their perfumed wake. They’ve been known to weave up the Brooklyn Bridge, holding up traffic as they absent-mindedly chomp on almonds, steering through a stop sign while texting on their BlackBerries.
Local celebrities like the actresses Naomi Watts and Chloë Sevigny and the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen have all championed living the green life in this most public and only incidentally calorie-burning way. “I go every day to work on my bike,” Ms. Bundchen told the Daily News a couple of years ago. “It’s faster than a car, and cheaper.”
So I’m not in New York, lack flowing hair, almost always wear a helmet, never bike in a dress and don’t text while riding. And I’m not a celebrity, actress or Brazilian supermodel. Otherwise, this fits me to a T. (I do have big sunglasses. Ray-Bans.)
So if you see me, wave.