Thursday, September 17, 2015

"Bush Kept Us Safe", or: Bush Did Not Keep Us Safe

This again?
Or still?
JQ knows to duck and cover whenever anyone on the teevee says this crap, because objects may begin flying around the room... Jeb, of course, said the words last night. I was actually retrospect, I'm astonished that I was astonished...

   What really angers me about this BS is not that it's obviously false. After all, as you might recall, 9/11 occurred well into the Bush presidency. It's not even that the GOP is adept at fudging temporal boundaries for the purpose of dodging and shifting blame (remember how Obama was responsible for the stock market crash of 2008 because the prospect of an Obama presidency was so horrific that the market elected to get a jump on things and crash before he was even elected?)
   What really angers me about this is how clearly, uncontroversially false it is technically speaking. Even if you want to grant absolutely everything to the GOP: shift the blame onto Clinton, ignore the fact that the Bush team ignored the threat from al Qaeda out of spite, dogmatism and contempt for the Clinton team that tried to warn them about it, ignore the infamous PDB, ignore their ideological fixation on Russia...absolve them of all responsibility for the attack...  It is still not true that they kept us safe.
   To keep x safe is to prevent harm to x. Even if you are not responsible for harming x, if x comes to harm while in your care, then you have not kept x safe. If you leave your laptop in my care, and someone comes along and steals it, then I cannot claim to have kept it safe. Period. And I certainly can't claim to have kept it safe on the grounds that I myself am not responsible for whatever lapses allowed it to come to harm. Perhaps my roommate is the one who left the door unlocked. Fine. Then it's not my fault. But I did not keep your damn laptop safe. In fact, ex hypothesi, I failed to keep it safe. Even if we grant that I don't deserve the blame that attaches to the responsibility for harm, it's at least equally obvious that I don't deserve the praise that attaches to preventing harm. Because I did not prevent the harm. The harm happened. I failed to stop it. I did not keep the thing in question safe.
   Bush simply did not keep us safe, and to assert that he did is to assert a patent falsehood.

[Matthew Yglesias makes the same point]


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