The Executive, the Magistrate, and the Maverick
3. “Fuck Diplomacy. We Are Going to War”: The Bush Administration’s Response to the September 11th Attacks
3 “Fuck Diplomacy. We Are Going to War”: The Bush Administration’s Response to the September 11th Attacks1
Speaking immediately following the stunning news of the World Trade Center attacks, President George W. Bush labored to find the tone to express the administration’s perspective on the events. Caught out of context at a visit to Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, the president’s first words to the press gave an impression of poise as he reverted to boilerplate expressions of condolence and promises of justice. Yet in the hours that followed, President Bush visibly struggled to recapture that poise as his statements hardened and began to coalesce around twin themes of righteous indignation and retribution. Six hours after his initial, brief address outlined the “difficult moment” of a “national tragedy,” culminating in the bland assertion that “Terrorism against our Nation will not stand,” Bush struck a more assertive, aggressive tone when he addressed the press from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (Bush, 2001a). “Freedom, itself, was attacked this morning … and freedom will be defended … The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts … The resolve of our great Nation is being tested. But make no mistake: We will show the world that we will pass this test” (Bush, 2001b). While the delivery of his statement at Barksdale seemed halting, the response he envisioned would not be. The president began to outline the argument for a muscular, decisive blow against enemies not yet fully...
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