The Distortions of Dana Perino

Greg Sargent calls our attention today to an interview Bush's former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino gave last night on Fox News' "Hannity." In the interview, Perino takes the Obama administration to task for not calling the Fort Hood massacre a "terrorist attack." "I don't mean to be political," she tells Sean Hannity, but it's important to call it what it was, since, she says, "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President's Bush's term."

Apparently, Perino meant that we didn't have a terrorist attack on our country during Bush's term beside the attacks of September 11—beside, that is, the single most devastating attack in our nation's history—which she was actually in the middle of discussing with Sean Hannity. The message, as always, was that September 11 shouldn't count, perhaps because the Bush administration wasn't ready and hadn't started yet.


It probably is fruitless to try to assign blame for those attacks. President Bush had been in office less than a year when they occurred, and it may be that President Clinton should have done more to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. But what is clear is that the Bush administration ignored warnings that an attack might be coming—although then National Security Adviser Condoleeza denied that a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" actually warned of attacks—and even shifted resources away from counterterrorism.

It's certainly to the Bush administration's credit that we didn't see a repeat of the September 11 attacks. We cannot say for sure whether Gore or Kerry or Obama would have done as well. But for Perino to blithely dodge all responsibility for the September 11 attacks—while implying that President Obama is somehow to blame for what happened at Fort Hood—took gall. The message was that Maj. Nidal Hasan went on a shooting spree because we elected a Democrat. This, of course, has essentially been the Republican theme since the original attacks. Now that economic problems have taken center stage we hear it less, although just two weeks after Obama's inauguration former Vice President Dick Cheney was already back arguing that Obama's national security policy makes a terrorist attack more likely.

The threat of another terrorist attack, of course, is very real. It's certainly reasonable to argue about what policies are most likely to keep us safe. But politicians go too far when they distort the truth and revise history. When they attempt to blame every tragedy on their political opponents—and constantly imply that if we don't vote for them we'll die—it has a corrosive effect on the public discourse. We need to make our choices with eyes open, but not out of fear.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less