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War and Terrorism

Sep 12

CotW: Reflecting on September 11th

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm Mountain Time

Guest post by Tim Stevens

I was planning to have this done by this morning. As you can see, things did not go as planned.

Part of it, most of it I suppose, is that while I have lots of thoughts about September 11, 2001 kicking around my brain, they don’t easily line up into any sort of easy narrative to be placed on the page. I have lots of observations and so very little structure. I was honestly tempted to just scrap the whole thing and just put up a piece about Superman maybe using an abbreviation for taking the Lord’s name in vain. But that felt like a cop out, like letting myself off the hook a bit too easy. No worries though, you’ll still be able to read how I feel about that whole Superman thing later in the week.

In any case, please bear in mind my remarkable lack of cohesion in putting this together and do your best to be kind if it all feels a bit…jumpy.

In reviewing the article I wrote on the 11th and the few days that followed (which was reprinted here on Friday) I was surprised by what I do and do not remember from those days. The details…they slip away. I had forgotten about the heartbreaking makeshift signs proclaiming a solidarity that proved ever so fleeting, even more fleeting than most of America probably realized. The bomb threats, the phone call from my professor…those I had blanked on as well. Hell, I cannot even remember watching the footage live. I know I did, I must have. We were locked down, we had nothing to do but stare glassy eyed at our TV sets or try our useless phones. But I don’t remember any of it.

The feeling of it I can recall instantly. The weird conflict of wanting to just hide running up against the desire to be out there doing something, doing anything, because, well, damn, those were my cities burning on the television.

I do remember that one plane and how such an innocuous sound could be so staggering, so frightening. I remember chasing down rumors about old friends and classmates who might have been at Ground Zero and finding, thankfully, none were real. And I remember talking to my dad and finding that people he knew and worked with were there and feeling profoundly unequipped to say anything about these people I never met, that my dad probably did not know very well, who when nonetheless found ourselves missing.

In DC, September 11 became a season that blanketed the city. In actuality, the Pentagon is across a sizable body of water from DC. For most residents, there was no real threat at all. What came after was when things really began for us. The bomb threats. The anthrax. The anthrax scares. I was evacuated from where I was interning twice for suspicious packages that, thankfully, came to nothing. People interning for Senators and Representatives had to find new office spaces when the packages they received turned out not to be so empty.

My then girlfriend, now wife, had a roommate who only left the room for class and internship and spent the rest of her time relentlessly writing about her day for what she claimed was going to be a book about living in DC during those days. I look back now and realize she was very likely wrestling with what my DSM-IV refers to as Acute Stress Disorder.

And yet…I loved DC. I loved my time at American. I met my wife and now, ten years later, we have a new baby daughter. I met people who I wish I kept in better touch with me because they were great. Fun, smart, energetic…we went to class everyday and internship everyday despite what had happened, what was happening. We walked past men with guns on our way to Starbucks, we attended basement raves near hotels that let people on to the roof to see the smoldering remains of the Pentagon. I wish September 11 never happened, but I can hardly imagine my life without it. And I imagine I am hardly the only one. For good or for ill, for ten years it has been an event that many, maybe most, of us wove tightly into our clothes, our skin, our souls.

So understand when I say this I mean no disrespect. I am so ready to be done with September 11. I think we should continue to honor and mourn the heroes. I think we should build monuments to their bravery and as an affront to the hateful barbarism of that day. But I am ready to put it in the past. I have no desire for this to become my generation’s Vietnam, not in terms of an intractable war but in terms of it being the cloud that hangs over every election for years. We did a lot right after September 11 and we did a lot wrong. I know this and while you may disagree about what falls on the right and wrong sides of the equation, I imagine most of you do too.

But I don’t want to fight those battles ad nauseum. We lost so much that day, I want to be done feeding that wound. We need to stop pretending that we get the difference between people who are Christian and do terrible things and Christians in general but that we cannot seem to make our minds do the same when it comes to Muslims. We need to stop doing things to make ourselves feel safer when they don’t actually make us safer at all. We need to learn the difference between casting off naiveté and embracing suspicious cynicism.

That’s my small prayer, I suppose. Or hope, if the idea of prayer makes you uncomfortable. That we can mourn without holding on. That we can remember without reliving. That we can stop thinking of the day in the context of horror and start remembering it as a day, a time, of heroes. Because “moving on” is not forgetting. Moving on is realizing that we have as much a responsibility to the living that survived as we do to the brave that did not.

When my daughter, two months tomorrow, asks about September 11, as I am sure she will, I will tell her what happened. We will talk about terrorism and loss and ramifications that echoed for years. Because it is important to be honest about these things. But I will also tell her about college hallways filled with classmates comforting one another despite not knowing each other even a month. I will tell her about giving blood. I will tell her about men and women who ran towards fire and ash and broken concrete. I will tell her about people who tried to do something, anything, because, well, damn, those were our cities.

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Sep 10

Ten years later

Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm Mountain Time

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Depending on your time zone, it is, or soon will be, September 11, 2011 — ten years since the atrocity. Above is a photo of the Jason Dahl memorial in the Ken Caryl section of Littleton. The pilot of United 93 was living in Ken Caryl in September 2001, and there’s a nice little roadside memorial in his honor. I took the girls there this afternoon, and we left flowers and a flag.

Speaking of United 93, you absolutely must read this Washington Post story about the pilots who were tasked with bringing that plane down if necessary.

Anyway… I’ve set up a special homepage for the day, but for those who click through to this post, here are a few links:

• A full account of my memories of September 11, 2001, written up last year for my “Defining Days of the Decade” series.

• My wake-up call from Becky on 9/11.

• My montage of speeches about 9/11 set to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

• The USC Daily Trojan’s online collection of the USC community’s stories of 9/11. I submitted, and they published, an excerpt from my “Defining Days” post — and now I feel very old, as it’s surrounded by accounts of current USC students who were in elementary school on 9/11.

• Photos of NYC on the second anniversary of 9/11, when I shot the “Tribute in Light” picture in the blog’s current masthead.

• Photos of my June 3, 2001 trip to the WTC — exactly 100 days before 9/11.

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Never forget.

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Sep 09

CotW-Reprinting September 11th

Friday, September 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm Mountain Time

Guest post by Tim Stevens

What follows below the jump is the piece I wrote after September 11th for the Connecticut College Voice. I was in DC at the time, studying at American University for the Semester in Washington Program, and sent this story in to the paper via email.

It ran in the September 14th edition of the Voice, as it was/is a weekly paper. I had my notes, but was unable to find my original file of it amongst my digital archives. But thanks to the Voice and current editor-in-chief Jazmine Hughes, I was able to get my hands on a scan of the paper. It appears here almost exactly as it did there, except for minor grammatical changes and the inclusion of a moment involving a military plane that appeared in my notes but for some reason (probably length) did not make the final copy.

My plan is to reprint this today as a visit to the past, and then to write “September 11, ten years on” on Monday as a look to today and, hopefully a future where it is less raw.

Continue reading »

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Jul 22

Terrorist attacks rock Norway

Friday, July 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm Mountain Time

Norway has been hit today by terrorist attacks — one or more massive, Oklahoma City-style bomb blasts that ripped open buildings in downtown Oslo, followed by an apparently related gun attack on a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoya — and at least 7 16 87 people are dead. BBC has live coverage. So does CNN.

It’s not yet clear whether the attacks were carried out by domestic or foreign terrorists. On the one hand, an Islamist group has claimed responsibility (but such claims are sometimes shown to be spurious). On the other hand, The Telegraph reports that the Utoya shooter “apparently infiltrated the party gathering on the pretense that he had been sent by police as a security measure in the wake of the Oslo explosion. As such, it is likely he was ethnically Norwegian.” Other reports corroborate this. “This could indicate the involvement of a far-right group rather than an Islamist group, though it is also the case that the Labour Party would be a favourable target for Islamist groups due to its role in authorising Norwegian military deployments in Afghanistan.”

Regardless, this is obviously a shocking calamity in Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize. My heart goes out to the whole country, and to everyone personally affected by this vile atrocity. Also, may the subhuman bastards responsible for it, whoever they are, rot in hell.

P.S. Unconfirmed reports indicate up to 30 people may have died in the Utoya shooting rampage. Ugh. Pray that isn’t true. But if it is, this could rapidly approach “Norway’s 9/11″ territory, in terms of population ratios. If the toll reaches 50 dead in this country of ~5,000,000, that would be roughly equivalent, percentage-wise, to 9/11’s death toll of almost 3,000 in a country of almost 300,000,000.

UPDATE: At least 80 dead in the Utoya shooting?!? Jesus Christ.

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May 05

Irony, thy name is PJTV

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 8:38 am Mountain Time

This morning, I got an e-mail from PJTV — the online broadcast arm of the conservative blog conglomerate Pajamas Media* — containing the following two paragraphs, one immediately after other:

The Conversation: Dead and Gone, but the Spin Lives On: The War of Words in the Wake of Bin Laden’s Death
Is there a diffrence between discussing the politcal impact of an event like Osama bin Laden’s death versus politcizing it? Is it any surprise that the spin doctors are hard at work after what is widely considered a triumph for America in the war on terror? Tony Katz is joined by Stephen Kruiser, Alfonzo Rachel and special guest, the left leaning Tommy Christopher of Mediaite.com to discuss the ins and outs of the spin and the spinners spinning it.
CLICK HERE

Trifecta: All Bush’s Fault: With Bin Laden Kill, Obama Takes Credit for the Same Policies He Decried
In his speech Sunday night, President Obama overlooked George W. Bush’s contributions to the War on Terror. How much credit does President Bush deserve for catching Osama bin Laden? Find out in this episode of Trifecta.
CLICK HERE

LOL! Translation: can you believe those dastardly liberals and MSM types (but I repeat myself), always politicizing everything? Oh, and also, BUSH RULEZ, OBAMA DROOLZ!

*I should probably do one of those journalistic “full disclosure” things, eh? Pajamas Media has, in the past, paid me money to write about hurricanes, and I appeared on PJTV one time. So there you go.

May 04

An important announcement from George W. Bush

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm Mountain Time

Heh.

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May 02

A modest proposal

Monday, May 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm Mountain Time

A thought just popped into my head. Obama is going to Ground Zero on Thursday. He should invite George W. Bush to join him. I’m serious. Can you imagine what an amazing American moment that would be? A transcendent moment of unity and celebration: the two presidents together, marking their joint victory over terror and evil. What’s the downside? Obama lives up to his post-partisan, unifying promise, and looks incredibly magnanimous and presidential. Bush gets his chance to bask in the success he so desperately wanted. Everybody wins, most of all America. Make this happen, White House.

P.S. Speaking of Bush, this morning as I listened to my 9/11 anthem, I was particularly moved (again) by the line from his underrated November 2001 speech to the U.N. General Assembly:

The terrorists are violating the tenets of every religion, including the one they invoke. … They encourage murder and suicide in the name of a great faith that forbids both. They dare to ask God’s blessing as they set out to kill innocent men, women and children. But the God of Isaac and Ismail would never answer such a prayer. And a murderer is not a martyr, he is just a murderer.

Bush had some really good speeches in that post-9/11 period, and he delivered them well. He really rose to that occasion, and whatever my issues with the later years of his presidency, I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

May 02

Photo of the year?

Monday, May 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm Mountain Time

No, Wolf Blitzer, your studio isn’t the Situation Room. This is the Situation Room:

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Caption: “President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)”

Hillary looks concerned (spooked by a 3:00 AM phone call?). Gates looks unfazed. Biden looks like he needs to take a dump. The general at the head of the table looks like he’s playing Angry Birds. And Obama looks like he’s trying to personally bore a hole through Bin Laden’s skull by shooting laser beams out of his eyes.

And who’s that woman way in the back, peering over everybody’s shoulders? Wait a minute — is that Chloe?! ;)

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May 02

Things I’ve learned in the last 15 hours

Monday, May 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm Mountain Time

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• Americans’ visceral anger about 9/11 may have receded somewhat into the background over the last 10 years, but it is still absolutely there. There’s no need, yet, to say “Never Forget.” We haven’t forgotten. Not even close.

• Osama Bin Laden was very much the personal focal point of that visceral anger. I confess I was surprised by the unabashed elation that almost everyone — of all political persuasions — felt upon learning this news, like Bin Laden’s death is the V-E Day of our time. I’m not criticizing it; I felt it too. It just surprised me a little bit.

• I’m old. Or at least, I felt really old when I saw a tweet by my friend Andrew Fielding, a current student at the University of Denver, noting that he was watching the Bin Laden news from the DU student center. I remember vividly watching 9/11 itself while I was in college, and watching various events in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (Bush’s address to Congress, etc.) from student lounges at USC. Andrew was in elementary school then.

• “Team America: World Police” is a much bigger cultural force than I realized. It’s amazing how many people online have cited America: F*** Yeah! last night and today.

• Twitter has apparently improved its infrastructure quite a bit. It’s incredible that it didn’t Fail Whale last night.

• Sandwiched between the Alabama tornadoes and Bin Laden’s death, the Royal Wedding had an amazingly short shelf life for a news event watched by 3 billion people.

• Navy SEALs are f***king awesome.

(Cross-posted from my Tumblr. More on that photographed sign here.)

Also, a PSA:

Amid today’s jubilation, let’s not forget Alabama & the South suffered an utterly epic calamity last week. They still need attention & help.less than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

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May 02

Anchors Aweigh, my boys

Monday, May 2, 2011 at 10:03 am Mountain Time

Driving to work this morning, I wanted to hear my 9/11 anthem, so I put my iPhone on my patriotic playlist and listened to it. After that song ended, I let it shuffle through other songs on the list. The third or fourth one that came on was “Anchors Aweigh,” the Navy song. Given that Bin Laden was just killed by Navy SEALs, this was, obviously, awesome. So I turned the volume way up, and when the song finished, I played it again. Now, here it is, for your listening pleasure.

I was also inspired to post this tweet:

Today is a day for listening to patriotic music, Team America, and Toby Keith. #factless than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

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May 01

OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 8:56 pm Mountain Time

About f***in’ time. We got him before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, thank goodness.

I really hope there’s a Hell, if only so that evil motherf***er can burn in it.

UPDATE: It’s official. Obama just announced it. Operation was authorized last week; Osama was killed in a firefight today.

DING DONG, THE EVIL BASTARD IS DEAD!!!

The U.S. soldiers in that firefight must never pay for their own drinks at a bar ever again in their lives. This is an urgent national priority.

UPDATE: Shot in the head by a Navy SEAL. Holy s**t. Perfect. Epic.

There’s really only one thing that can be said in this situation, and it’s said in the following video. Which — warning! — contains profanity. As it must:

Also… fans at the Phillies-Mets game react to the news:

Awesome.

Speaking of “U-S-A” … now I can stop cringing whenever I hear Bush’s awesome Ground Zero speech near the end of my 9/11 anthem. It was the high-point of his presidency, a truly transcendent moment of leadership, but its key line — “and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon” — rang increasingly hollow as the years dragged on with the attacks’ mastermind still at large. Now, at long last, we have justice. It wasn’t “soon,” but Bin Laden heard us. And he’ll hear nothing else ever again, the God-damned evil bastard.

Speaking of which, amid the joy of this history moment, let’s not forget why we all hate this guy so much that normally even-keeled, non-bloodthirsty people are cheering, chanting and generally rejoicing at his departure from the world of the living. Via Sully. As I’ve said before, don’t avert your eyes:

P.S. Check out this New York Times photo:

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After the jump, some memorable tweets from this evening. (WARNING: PROFANITY!) But first, one more thing. Take it away, Boss:

Continue reading »

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Apr 15

TSA targets travelers who criticize TSA

Friday, April 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm Mountain Time

Because clearly, actual terrorists, trying to slip through undetected, are routinely going to draw attention to themselves with “arrogant complaining about airport security.” Riiiiight.

Why, it’s almost as if this agency of the federal government is trying to use its largely unchecked power of detention, arrest, and general intimidation to harass innocent citizens into silence, lest they dangerously threaten American security by exercising their constitutional right to petition said government agency for a redress of grievances.

But no, no, that can’t be right. It’s okay; nothing to see here, people. Move along, move along. It’s all part of the plan.

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Mar 30

Thomas Friedman nails it, or so it seems to me, in his analysis of what Andrew Sullivan calls the Middle East’s 1848 — starting with the line “This is really hard stuff, and it’s just the beginning.”

When an entire region that has been living outside the biggest global trends of free politics and free markets for half a century suddenly, from the bottom up, decides to join history — and each one of these states has a different ethnic, tribal, sectarian and political orientation and a loose coalition of Western and Arab states with mixed motives trying to figure out how to help them — well, folks, you’re going to end up with some very strange-looking policy animals. And Libya is just the first of many hard choices we’re going to face in the “new” Middle East.

How could it not be? In Libya, we have to figure out whether to help rebels we do not know topple a terrible dictator we do not like, while at the same time we turn a blind eye to a monarch whom we do like in Bahrain, who has violently suppressed people we also like — Bahraini democrats — because these people we like have in their ranks people we don’t like: pro-Iranian Shiite hard-liners. All the while in Saudi Arabia, leaders we like are telling us we never should have let go of the leader who was so disliked by his own people — Hosni Mubarak — and, while we would like to tell the Saudi leaders to take a hike on this subject, we can’t because they have so much oil and money that we like. And this is a lot like our dilemma in Syria where a regime we don’t like — and which probably killed the prime minister of Lebanon whom it disliked — could be toppled by people who say what we like, but we’re not sure they all really believe what we like because among them could be Sunni fundamentalists, who, if they seize power, could suppress all those minorities in Syria whom they don’t like.

Foreign policy is so, so complicated. I’ve increasingly come to believe that those, both Left and Right, who believe it can be fit into a straightforward ideological box are, basically without exception, fools. Or rather, I should say, they’re being foolish in that particular regard. They may not be fools on other topics. There are lots of smart, very smart, neo-cons and paleo-cons and isolationists and noninterventionists and various other -ives and -ists. But the pragmatists, the situationalists, are fundamentally correct, maddening though that is to folks who are naturally predisposed to be idealists like, yes, myself (grand theories of #PANIC!!! and doom notwithstanding). Of course, the pragmatists and situationalists can and do get their pragmatic, situational, case-by-case judgments wrong in certain particular cases — it’s always much easier to know that in hindsight, but sometimes it might also be true with foresight — but their basic approach (that nuance and details matter) is correct, and the ideologues’ basic approach (that they don’t) is wrong.

This stuff is hard. The fact that Obama seems to be struggling with the complexity of it, rather than taking a pre-determined ideological approach and “not blinking” or wavering or otherwise risking America’s “prestige” (hi Newt) in the pursuit of sound policy, is a feature, not a bug.

Obama hasn’t handled this perfectly, but that’s impossible. Meanwhile, I believe there is a directly inverse relationship between “seeming confident” and “having a f***ing idea what you’re doing” in this sort of situation — those who seem confident don’t know what they don’t know; those who don’t seem confident may actually have a clue — and I prefer someone in the latter camp than the former, thank you very much.

Friedman again:

Welcome to the Middle East of 2011! You want the truth about it? You can’t handle the truth. The truth is that it’s a dangerous, violent, hope-filled and potentially hugely positive or explosive mess — fraught with moral and political ambiguities. We have to build democracy in the Middle East we’ve got, not the one we want — and this is the one we’ve got.

That’s why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky.

Me too.

Dec 06

Close the Washington Monument?

Monday, December 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm Mountain Time

Bruce Schneier has a modest proposal:

Securing the Washington Monument from terrorism has turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. The concrete fence around the building protects it from attacking vehicles, but there’s no visually appealing way to house the airport-level security mechanisms the National Park Service has decided are a must for visitors. It is considering several options, but I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears.

An empty Washington Monument would serve as a constant reminder to those on Capitol Hill that they are afraid of the terrorists and what they could do. They’re afraid that by speaking honestly about the impossibility of attaining absolute security or the inevitability of terrorism — or that some American ideals are worth maintaining even in the face of adversity — they will be branded as “soft on terror.” … An empty Washington Monument would symbolize our lawmakers’ inability to take that kind of stand — and their inability to truly lead. …

As long as we’re willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety, we should keep the Washington Monument empty.

Terrorism isn’t a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the death of innocents and destruction of property to make us fearful. Terrorists use the media to magnify their actions and further spread fear. And when we react out of fear, when we change our policy to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed — even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail — even if their attacks succeed.

We can reopen the monument when every foiled or failed terrorist plot causes us to praise our security, instead of redoubling it. When the occasional terrorist attack succeeds, as it inevitably will, we accept it, as we accept the murder rate and automobile-related death rate; and redouble our efforts to remain a free and open society.

The grand reopening of the Washington Monument will not occur when we’ve won the war on terror, because that will never happen. It won’t even occur when we’ve defeated al Qaeda. Militant Islamic terrorism has fractured into small, elusive groups. We can reopen the Washington Monument when we’ve defeated our fears, when we’ve come to accept that placing safety above all other virtues cedes too much power to government and that liberty is worth the risks, and that the price of freedom is accepting the possibility of crime.

Brilliant. (Hat tip: Sully.)

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Sep 22

On America, Obama, outrage, and absorbency

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 7:45 pm Mountain Time

Taking a step back from the Outrage Machine & Beltway Noise Generator, Slate’s John Dickerson commits journalism and confirms what everyone with a functional brain, a modicum of common sense, and a resistance to right-wing partisan blinders instantly, instinctively knew upon reading Obama’s faux-outrage-of-the-day quote about America’s ability to “absorb” a terrorist attack:

I asked an administration official familiar with the interview to provide me with context. The president was talking with Woodward about the national-security threats he faced upon becoming president—the possible dangers and the fact that the terrorists had to be right only once, whereas the president and his team had to be right every time.

This led the president to talk about the need to prioritize. Objectively, the president said, you would want to be able to stop every attack, but a president has to prioritize. So what does the president put at the top of the danger list? A nuclear weapon or a weapon of mass destruction. Why? Because—and here’s where the quote in question comes in—as bad as 9/11 was, the United States was not crippled. A nuclear attack or weapon of mass destruction, however, would be a “game changer,” to use a popular cliché.

This all makes perfect sense, and has the benefit of being completely, 100%, undeniably true — so much so that it’s precisely the same attitude espoused by Bush Administration officials when talking about prioritization in the war on terror. (Dickerson: “This line of reasoning is identical to what I heard regularly when I covered the Bush White House. … I remember being a little shocked at how brutal the calculus was when I heard officials…say that they had to focus their energy first on ‘mass casualty’ events. What were they talking about? The same thing [Obama] was: a nuclear attack or one that used a weapon of mass destruction.”)

Furthermore, it was, again, patently obvious that this is what Obama meant by his statement. Dickerson says the quote “screams for context,” and it surely does, but really, the context was so transparent that there’s no excuse for failing to guess it. I knew the moment I read it that Obama was talking about prioritization of threats, just as surely as I knew that the quote would cause a bunch of ginned-up bullshit outrage on the Right — outrage from folks like Liz Cheney, whose father once said “we have to assume there will be more attacks,” but who today spewed the following diarrhea from her mouth: “This comment suggests an alarming fatalism on the part of President Obama and his administration. Once again the President seems either unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this nation safe.” Then there’s John Bolton, who said President Obama’s statement of obvious reality means he “doesn’t care about Americans dying.”

Look, you can debate whether this is something Obama should have said, out loud, to Bob Woodward. Maybe it’s a true statement that’s better left unsaid, at least by the president, at least publicly. Fine. I don’t necessarily agree, as I think we actually need to more of a realistic, adult conversation in this country about the nature of terror threats and our ability to stop them, instead of giving every two-bit terrorist the powerful knowledge that they can shake us to our very core (and perhaps drastically alter national policy) with a single attack. But again, we can reasonably disagree there. Maybe Obama shouldn’t have said this, even though it’s OK to think it, and strategize on the basis of it. Okay. However, this notion that believing and saying what he said means that he “doesn’t care about Americans dying”? That it’s an outrageous example of “fatalism” or “complacency,” a sign of weakness and lack of resolve? Give me a freakin’ break! That’s just sheer, indefensible partisan nonsense. As I tweeted earlier:

The proper response to the obviously true (and, actually, patriotic!) sentiment that we’re strong enough to “absorb” another attack is a shrug. It’s a shame that our political discourse is so immature, such a statement is deemed an outrage and a sign of weakness when made by Obama. As Obama said, we must try to prevent another attack, but we must also know we can absorb it, and thus focus on what we CAN’T absorb – a nuclear strike. But our political discourse is trapped within ridiculous boundaries – things you can’t say, even though they’re true. We are a nation of children.

Come to think of it, maybe Obama is wrong to have so much faith in America. If this country can’t even “absorb” having a president with enough belief in our common sense and maturity to tell us the truth about something as basic as this — a president who doesn’t believe that our national mental well-being depends on being endlessly told the fairy tale that we can and will prevent all attacks everywhere, forever and ever, amen — who knows what else it can’t “absorb”?