September 14, 2001

by Ryan on September 14, 2007

in War on Terror

On this date six years ago, Congress passed a Joint Resolution authorizing President Bush to use the necessary and appropriate force to combat those that attacked us on 9/11/2001.  It is a very short and broad resolution and extraordinarily vague given the subsequent circumstances.  We needed a show of force to react to the horror that struck us the previous Tuesday.  It was the closest that Congress came to declaring a war on terror (in the post-War Powers Act world, it’s all a President needs to legitimately wage war).  Some believed that President Bush did not even need the Iraq War resolution because it was under the umbrella of this resolution.  I’m glad he got one anyway.

September 14, 2001 was also the day that what would eventually come to define Bush as a President, when he toured Ground Zero, borrowing a megaphone/bullhorn to speak with and lift the spirits of those working to recover the remains of their colleagues and fellow Americans.  Some had been working practically non-stop all week.  That image is iconic, historic, showing power and perseverance that America needed in those early days, and six years later, it’s a bit poignant too.  The George Bush of today is the same George Bush in this photo and he wakes up every morning realizing that the job is not done: it has influenced everything he has done in the White House for six years. 

I’m one of those who gives Bush the benefit of the doubt most of the time on national security issues.  I try to look past the partisan headlines of the day and look at the deeper issues that were here before Bush and will be here after he’s gone– that’s the historian in me.  Who would want to be President on 9/11/01?  Who wants to be the President who has to make a call about emerging threats in a new and scary world, about balancing the Constitution with the people’s need to be protected, about sending young Americans off to die for what he believes is a just and noble cause realizing most of the country is unsure about his choices?  I think about this image when I think about President Bush and those murky early days of the War on Terror.  Others choose “Mission Accomplished” or “My Pet Goat” or the “16 Words.”  Not me.  Despite his numerous mistakes, the character of the man remains strong in my view and he at least believes that squaring our security and freedoms are his top priority.  After 9/11, as a nation we were willing to accept a lot more than the measely Patriot Act, as evidenced by the broad and sweeping nature of things like this Joint Resolution passed six years ago today.  So in a sense, I’m glad we had George Bush in the White House on that day, rather than someone else.  When I vote for President next year, I want my candidate to be able to hold that megaphone with the same strength and determination as Bush if a similar crisis were to befall us.  It was not John Kerry, and it’s certainly not She Who Must Not Be Named, who’d rather demean our generals to their face than upset her special interest group friends.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike September 14, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Well said. However, it isn’t the War Powers Act that makes the war authorization valid. Article Once of the Constitution makes it effective. No form for a declaration is spelled out in the Constitution, so an authorization for war acts is sufficient.


Ryan September 14, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Thanks. You have a great point. Despite conventional wisdom on this issue, the War Powers Act was an attempt just after Vietnam to actually CURB Presidential powers, not give the President a blank check like so many believe today. Hmm…


Mike September 14, 2007 at 10:18 pm

AOR mutual admiration society in effect. Great point on the War Powers Act. I completely forgot that it was an attempt to curb powers. It’s funny how conventional wisdom is often unwise.


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