Man, it sure seems like he was POTUS in September 2001.
This bit of revisionist history — the idea Bush was not president when 9/11 occurred — seems to be something of a right-wing meme. So far it’s come from Mary Matalin, Dana Perino and Rudy Giuliani.
You could make the semantic argument that the terrorist attacks were’t under Bush’s “watch” because he’d only been in office for less than seven months (although there is very solid evidence his domestic defense team knew about the threat and did nothing to act on the intel), but to take one example from above — Giuliani’s — the quote is very direct: “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama … ” And of course 9/11 wasn’t the only domestic terrorist attack during Bush’s presidency. Two high profile examples are the shoe bomber and the anthrax attacks distributed via the U.S. Postal system soon after 9/11.
This type of political linguistics no longer works in the age of online video. At one time a political actor could make a crazy, carefully worded statement to a small publication, make certain the deeper point and the blatant lie got into the media stream and then later spin your original quote around to explain what you really meant by the words “Bush’s watch.”
Not any more. When that quote is preserved for all to watch online at will — all three links above go to video of the statement in question — there is no way to spin your words unless you want to admit to either being quite confused, ignorant or a blatant liar.
Yes, there is a fringe of the GOP base that will hear these quotes and completely forget the Bush 43 administration presided over the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history, plus a few more to boot. That base won’t win elections. These lies won’t entice any swing voters, and could absolutely force those voters away from the party. That does seem to be what the GOP has become at this point. Catering to a dwindling base at a moment in U.S. political history where the Republican Party could be making great strides back to the fore.
Update — Rudy’s already working to spin this one, but this comment from “dave” from the link is a great response to the entire issue:
According to Rudy, it appears the republicans define “terrorism” much in the same way Clinton defined “sexual relations”.
With that in mind, would you rather be represented by a politician who dissembles about personal behavior with no broader implications, or a politician who does the same on issues of national security?