The Washington Post features an above the fold front-page story by David Broder and Dan Balz called “How Common Ground of 9/11 Gave Way to Partisan Split.” This theme is a hardy perennial of the anti-Bush crowd — the notion being that the country, and indeed the world, was united on 9/12, but the Bush administration squandered this unprecedented consensus by using the moment (a) to gain cheap political advantage, (b) to implement its long-held nefarious neo-conservative agenda, (c) to impose an imperial presidency, or (d) all of the above.
A moment’s reflection is sufficient to show how foolish the “lost common ground” theme is. The 9/12 common ground consisted of the view that 9/11 was a really bad event and that we should try hard to avoid its recurrence. Given the nature of our two political parties, the notion that these truisms provided any basis for a bipartisan foreign policy is laughable. By its nature, the Republican party was always going to favor a sustained, aggressive, world-wide assault on terrorists and their state sponsors. The Democratic party, with its huge neo-McGovernite contingent, was never going to sign on to this venture for the long, or even the medium, haul. Nor was it going to tolerate the aggressive interrogation and surveillance techniques that Republicans naturally tend to favor when the nation’s security is at stake. The only way the administration could have sustained the common ground of 9/12 would have been to limit its response to just those elements that the liberal Democrats believe in. In other words, Bush would have had to become a neo-McGovernite. His refusal to do so represents the real sin that Democrats and the MSM are alleging when they claim that Bush destroyed the post 9/11 Garden of Eden.