My Pet Meme

Few of the Democrats’ 9/11 memes irritated me more over the years than the one in which Michael Moore has cavorted and romped like an obese sweaty pixie for all these years; that George W. Bush was distracted and incompetent because after he got the news about 9/11, he finished reading My Pet Goat to a bunch of first-graders…

…while his staff frantically figured out what was going on.

The kids to whom he read – now juniors in high school – are finally getting their say:

There has rarely been a starker juxtaposition of evil and innocence than the moment President George W. Bush received the news about 9/11 while reading The Pet Goat with second-graders in Sarasota, Florida.

Seven-year-olds can’t understand what Islamic terrorism is all about. But they know when an adult’s face is telling them something is very wrong — and none of the students sitting in Sandra Kay Daniels’ class at Emma E. Booker Elementary School that morning can forget the sudden, devastated change in Bush’s expression when White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispered the terrible news of the Al Qaeda attack. Lazaro Dubrocq’s heart started racing because he assumed they were all in big trouble — with no less than the Commander-in-Chief — but he wasn’t quite sure why. “In a heartbeat he leaned back and he looked flabbergasted, shocked, horrified,” recalls Dubrocq, now 17. “I was baffled. I mean, did we read something wrong? Was he mad or disappointed in us?”

I’ve always felt – with good reason – that the Democrats who ragged on Bush for finishing the story also believed that government works like an episode of  West Wing or 24; that omnipotently competent bureaucrats always have instant real-life knowedge of everything that goes on around them, that they can zoom in on everything that happens across the land and instantly make perfectly-calibrated decisions.

Real life, even at the highest level of government, isn’t like that.  Especially when an unprecedented situation like 9/11 is breaking out.  Nobody in the Federal Government knew what was going on on 9/11, and it showed; at one point there were reports of as many as six hijackings, and a bomb blast at the State Department, among many others.

And one of the things a leader does is keep things in perspective while chaos is breaking out all around him.

All sorts of similar kid fears started running through Mariah Williams’ head. “I don’t remember the story we were reading — was it about pigs?” says Williams, 16. “But I’ll always remember watching his face turn red. He got really serious all of a sudden. But I was clueless. I was just seven. I’m just glad he didn’t get up and leave because then I would have been more scared and confused.” Chantal Guerrero, 16, agrees: even today she’s grateful that Bush regained his composure and stayed with the students until The Pet Goat was finished. “I think the President was trying to keep us from finding out,” says Guerrero, “so we all wouldn’t freak out.”

I’ve often wondered – what did the Dems think the President was supposed to do in the opening seconds of the war?  Jump up, run to the Presidential limo, and order an attack on…someone, somewhere?  Tell NORAD to scramble planes (they do that on their own, although on 9/11 they weren’t equipped to track aircraft inside the US)?

Or keep his composure and not send everyone around him – a classroom full of first-graders – into a blind panic until he actually had something to act on?

Even if they didn’t freak out, it’s apparent that sharing the terrifying Tuesday of 9/11 with Bush has affected those second-graders in the decade since — and, they say, made the news of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing by U.S. commandos on Sunday all the more meaningful. Dubrocq, now a junior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, doubts he’d be a student in the rigorous IB, or international baccalaureate program, if he hadn’t been with the President as one of history’s most infamous global events unfolded. “Because of that,” he says, “I came to realize as I grew up that the world is a much bigger place, and that there are differing opinions about us out there, not all of them good.”

The whole piece is worth a read.

A pity Time magazine couldn’t have run it, say, six years ago…

13 thoughts on “My Pet Meme

  1. Pingback: My Pet Meme « The Greenroom

  2. Keep this in mind: Bush was ragged on for spending (if I remember correctly) 7:43 reading the rest of the book and not leaving immediately.

    John Ketchup Kerry admitted in his own words, that he, Tom Daschle, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid sat around for FORTY minutes between the time the 2nd plane hit the towers and the time the plane hit the Pentagon, at which time they were evacuated.

    “I was in the Capitol. We’d just had a meeting — we’d just come into a leadership meeting in Tom Daschle’s office, looking out at the Capitol. And as I came in, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid were standing there, and we watched the second plane come in to the building. And we shortly thereafter sat down at the table and then we just realized nobody could think, and then boom, right behind us, we saw the cloud of explosion at the Pentagon. And then word came from the White House, they were evacuating, and we were to evacuate, and so we immediately began the evacuation.”
    (search the text on that page for “I was in”)

  3. Or keep his composure and not send everyone around him – a classroom full of first-graders – into a blind panic until he actually had something to act on?

    That specific idea/action has been one thing I have had to overcome as a parent of young children. I will admit it right here and now. I am scared of bees, wasps and hornets. TERRIFIED of them. I have been known to flail my arms and run away when one has decided to make an unannounced visit to my “personal space”. However, I have had to learn to stuff my fear and subsequent childish reactions into the deep dark recesses of my gut when the kids are around. When the kids are around, I now simply move away in a modestly rapid walk, keeping my arms down and not wigging out.

    I commend W for making the snap decision to not immediately stand up and freak out the class by leaving in a rush. There is nothing he could have done in that 7-8 minutes that would have A) made any difference, and B) that wasn’t being done already by other people farther down the chain of command.

  4. Besides, where would he have gone? For all his SS detail knew Air Force One was a target. Planes were falling out of the sky.
    I know! He could have rushed over to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
    and set up a command center under the banyan tree.
    Or maybe set up in the basement of the Ringling Museum of Art
    He could have gone to the Mote Aquarium
    and disguised himself as a manatee.

    Sarasota has so many options for managing a national emergency.

  5. Bush hatred causes all kinds of goofy things from the left.

    Remember when we caught Saddam? The left through a fit because an Army doctor gave Saddam a quick physical.

  6. In my opinion Bush managed to control his natural reactions perfectly and remained calm, and the kids were the better for it. I’m wondering how someone like Brave Sir Mark Dayton would have reacted?

    “I’ve often wondered – what did the Dems think the President was supposed to do in the opening seconds of the war?”

    I’m thinking there action would follow the addage; When in trouble or in doubt, run around, scream and shout.

  7. I remember getting the news of JFK’s assassination. I lived in CT and in our final hour 8th grade Latin class our teacher Mr Baker was summoned away by Mr Chapman the principal. He was gone for maybe 15 minutes, during which time the class of 8th graders did what came naturally–we talked, roamed the room, goofed off. Mr Baker returned with a terribly serious look on his face and began to speak about responsibility. At first I thought it was an obtuse way to start chewing us out for misbehaving. Eventually he got to the punchline and school was over for the day. My point is that bad news like that is better delivered by a calm rational adult than one who is hyper and excited.

  8. “I’m thinking there action would follow the addage; When in trouble or in doubt, run around, scream and shout.”

    Or, hide in his closet ala Mad Mark Dayton.


    I was in 5th grade and went to the can where there were two 6th graders in there talking about it. They were neighbors of mine, so I thought that they were joking. When I went back to class, I told my teacher and she poo pooed it, saying that it was cruel for me to say something like that. When we came back to school on the following Tuesday, the teacher tearfully apologized to me in front of the whole class for doubting me.

  9. To Bill C

    I also remember this interview or one similar from Senator John “Stolen Valor” Kerry. I remember him saying they sat there at the “Leadership” meeting unable to think for what must have been 30 minutes. This is what passes for leadership in our country these days.

  10. Interestingly enough I was just reading the chapter on 9/11 in Bush’s “Decision Points” book last night and he covered this exact thing. He said that his first rule as a leader in a crisis is to “project calm” and that’s’ exactly what he decided to do by continuing to read the book.

  11. Michael Moore is far more guilty of mangling context and selectively editing his footage than Breitbart is, yet the libs heap praise on Moore and scorn on Breitbart.
    It is all about ideology — but of course it is the libs who have so much invested in the idea that their views reflect “objective” truth.

  12. Face it, if President Bush HAD excused himself and run out of that classroom, he never would have hear the end of it for traumatizing those students and not remaining calm. The Left criticized him no matter what he did.

    The media, the liberals – they never gave President Bush any respect – most of what the public at large thinks they know about President Bush are lies. Lies that President Bush was too classy and too busy to bother to defend.

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