Saturday, August 27, 2011
Two Versions of President Bush's Initial Response to 9/11: Bush vs. Moore
As we near the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the nation begins the necessary memorializing of that terrible event, we need to pay attention to what it is that our public gatherings propose to remember, and what gets left off the page of memory, outside of the frame. Recently, National Geographic interviewed President George W. Bush about that fateful day, and some of his comments articulated some degree of regret about the "fog of war" that surrounded those hectic hours when no one quite knew the extent of the attack.
In the first video, we have Bush recounting the events, narrating his first person impressions as he recalled them; in it, Bush is very much the self-branded decider, issuing orders, "intently listening" to the teacher's lesson, etc. In the second video, if you watch 16:34-19:39, we have Michael Moore's take on the same events; here, the voiceovers by Moore brand the President as a nitwit who has suddenly realized his utter helplessness, and is frozen in place, a deer in the headlights of history, unable to act.
At this point, if this were my classroom, I'd ask you to decide what you think of each take. The moderates among you may suggest the "truth" is somewhere in the middle of Bush and Moore. What it reminds us is that it was difficult not to feel some anger at the failure of the powerful to take the terrorist threat seriously.