The other night, Rudy Giuliani (deliberately) couldn't properly calculate dates and timelines comparing 9/11 to the (completely dissimilar) Underpants Bomber. Not only that, but he claimed that the Shoe Bomber happened before 9/11.
For the record, the Shoe Bomber attempt happened after 9/11. Can we agree on this, wingnuts? Bush's initial response to the Shoe Bomber came six days later. President Obama's initial response to the Underpants Bomber was just three days after the incident -- not 10 as Vlad Rudy said on Larry King.
Then Rudy was on Good Morning America and said:
"We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we've had one under Obama."
I've been having very similar debates with wingnuts over the last several days and I have to admit that it's a real mind scramble. I'm hearing: Bush didn't have any attacks in seven years, while Clinton had several attacks in eight years. And the Underpants Bomber counts as one under Obama. All sorts of twisted backwards logic and confused math about dates, and no real standards in terms of what constitutes and attack -- shifting parameters between domestic attacks and Islamic terrorism, or overseas targets, and so on.
In and amongst the confused logic, the ultimate message gets lost which is that there will always been attempts at terrorism. Some will be successful, while others, like the Shoe Bomber or the Underpants Bomber, will be unsuccessful. The fact that there have been attacks during all recent presidencies is illustrative of the fact that human beings will always attempt to further their political or religious ideology with violence. There were more terrorist attacks on American interests under Ronald Reagan than under Bill Clinton. There were more terrorist attacks under George W. Bush than under Bill Clinton. Speaking realistically, this speaks partly to Clinton's efforts against terrorism, and partly to blind luck.
The fact that 9/11 happened on Bush's watch is partly incidental and partly due to incompetence. But to deny that 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, while blaming Clinton for, say, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing doesn't make any sense and it's absolutely a lie.
Furthermore, there are methods of curtailing terrorism that have been more effective, and methods that are completely ineffective. But regardless of the method, terrorists have made it through the dragnet. They always will.
What we don't want to do is to make it worse -- and we don't want to sell out our values, liberty and dignity in the process. And for all of its tough guy posturing and violations of the rule of law for the sake of security, George W. Bush didn't ameliorate terrorism -- according to the NIE of July, 2007, the Islamic terrorist group that we were ostensibly "at war with" had entirely reconstituted its pre-9/11 strength. That's a fact. And fighting the evildoers was Bush's whole thing. It was the centerpiece of his presidency. So it can be said that Bush's method wasn't just ineffective, it actually was harmful. In fact, I would suggest that as a marker of Bush's record on terrorism, this NIE is much more damning than 9/11, despite 9/11's transformative impact and dramatic death toll.
The whole process of counting the attacks and analyzing past data is supposed to tell us about which methods work and which methods are ineffective, if not counterproductive. If there are more American deaths under Bush and if the ranks of terrorists actually grew, then we have a sense of what we shouldn't be doing. Likewise, the people who are trying to pitch those methods absolutely lack credibility -- and it doesn't help that their logic and reason is entirely ridiculous and unserious. In other words, the Bush Republicans need to shut up and sit down.
Instead, as Rachel Maddow and David Corn discussed last night, they're deliberately skewing the debate into questions of twisted math and very obvious lies. See Vlad Rudy's remarks. I suppose this is all they can do considering their horrible record and bumper sticker methodology.