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Austin Cline

Bill Maher's New Rules

By September 12, 2004

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One of the things George W. Bush has pointed to as a defining moment of his presidency is 9/11 when terrorists attacked the United States. That, however, was a time of failure and sorrow - hardly the sort of thing one should be proud of, right?

Bill Maher argues:

New Rule: You can't run on a mistake. Franklin Roosevelt didn't run for re-election claiming Pearl Harbor was his finest hour. Abe Lincoln was a great president, but the high point of his second term wasn't theater security. 9/11 wasn't a triumph of the human spirit. It was a fuck-up by a guy on vacation.
Now, don't get me wrong, Mr. President. I'm not blaming you for 9/11. We have blue-ribbon commissions to do that. And I'm not saying there was anything improper about your immediate response to the attacks. Someone had to stay in that classroom and protect those kids from Chechen rebels.
But by the looks of your convention, you'd think that the worst thing that ever happened to us was the best thing that ever happened to you. You just can't keep celebrating the deadliest attack ever as if it's your personal rendezvous with greatness. You don't see old men who were shot down during World War II jumping out of a plane every year. I mean, other than your dad.
But even your dad didn't run for re-election based on a recession and his propensity to barf on the Japanese. Now, I know you'd like us all to get swept away with emotionalism and stop sweating the small stuff like the deficit and the environment, and focus on what's really important: how you look in a fireman's hat. But crying during your speech? I mean, come on! There's no crying in politics! It's not fair! That's a trick chicks use. How are we supposed to discuss this rationally if you're going to cry?! There's a name for people who exploit their participation in historical events for political gain. They're called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
So I say, if you absolutely must win an election on the backs of dead people, do it like they do in Chicago, and have them actually vote for you.

Did Roosevelt use images from Pearl Harbor in his reelection campaign? I don't think so. To be fair, though, it seems as though Republicans do more to associate Bush with 9/11 than Bush himself. But why do these Republicans do it? Why would anyone want their leader associated with such a tragedy? If Bush really believes that invading Iraq was the right thing to do, then it would make more sense to be associated with the images of Iraqis tearing down the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. After all, it was a photo-op manufactured by the military so why let it go to waste?

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