Posted by Jay Livingston
The Republican version of history seems to be that George W. Bush took office at about 10 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001.
“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” I’m not sure if Einstein really said this, and if he did, I’m not sure how he meant it to apply to physics. But I do know that in everyday life, the facts come in for a good deal of rough treatment. We select the ones that fit with our ideas; as for those that don’t, we often twist and contort them until they do, or else we just deny that they exist.
Even prominent people speaking in public about very well-known facts let their ideology override the facts. For example, the conservative ideology is that conservatives are “tough” on terror, while liberals are “soft.” Toughness scares off would-be terrorists; softness invites them. Therefore, when conservatives are in power, people in America are safe from terrorism.
One of the great public relations successes of recent times is the Bush administration’s ability, using this theory, to convince conservatives and many others that the attacks of 9/11 didn’t happen on their watch. For some reason, even people who are in the business of thinking and reporting about important events find it hard to remember who it was that had been in the White House for nine months on that day.
Here we have Dana Perino, former press secretary for George W. Bush, telling Sean Hannity two months ago, “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term.”
That little thing on Sept. 11, 2001, nine months into Bush’s term – Perino apparently forgot about it. And neither Hannity nor his other guest could remember it either. It did not fit with their view of history.
Not until it was pointed out to her did Perino issue a correction via Twitter:
I obviously meant no terror attack on U.S. post 9/11 during Bush 2nd term.You’d think that after Perino’s gaffe, prominent Republicans would remember not to make this claim so explicitly. But oops, they did it again.
Rudy Giuliani on Good Morning America tells George Stephanopoulos, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.” (The line comes at about the 3:20 mark.)
And Stephanopoulos, just like the guys on Fox, lets the remark pass. It’s not that he forgot about the attacks. But, I suspect, Stephanopoulos too has unwittingly absorbed the picture painted by the conservative ideologists. It takes just a bit more mental effort to remember something that clashes with prior ideas. So with his mind on closing this segment of GMA on time, he doesn’t realize that Giuliani has just made a huge misstatement of fact.
Did Giuliani not know who was president on Sept. 11, 2001? Maybe Rudy didn’t remember his own speech at the Republican convention
I grabbed the arm of then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and I said to him, “Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president.”Well, as I said above, it seems that someone else must have been president until just after the planes hit the towers.
Even if you allow the Perino dodge (“no terror attack post 9/11"), as Giuliani did in a subsequent “clarification” of his remarks, you still have to block out the fact of the shoe bomber, who was remarkably similar to the current terrorist, the main difference being which parts of his body he was willing to use as a weapon. Later, Giuliani went on the Larry King show. Even then, even knowing that his remarks would be carefully examined, Giuliani continued let his ideology shape his facts. When reminded that Bush took six days before he issued any kind of response to the shoe bomber attack, Giuliani said, “And I believe that six days was before the September 11th attack.”
It wasn’t. It was three months after.
Change the facts.