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  • W on Nat Geo

       August 28, 2011

    I was watching the George W. Bush interview on Nat Geo tonight and was struck by a few things:

    • W. looked so much younger then. I mean, way more than 10 years younger. He looked like a baby. Now he's suddenly kind of an old man. I know that happens to Presidents, but it's still shocking.
    • Not being about the immediately fly to DC was a huge deal to Bush. He talked about how obviously he felt that he needed to be there, and you can tell how even now he's uncomfortable with this notion that his own safety was so important. I mean, to the world he was President of the United States of America, but I don't think he had come to terms with that yet. He was just himself still. That must be very weird. When you're that important and powerful, it isn't you that changes, it's how everyone else changes toward you.
    • For all of the subsequent talk about what a cowboy W was, he really does deserve some credit for not flying off all half-cocked on 9/11. He was right to understand that we needed calm leadership, nothing more, that day. And, days later at Ground Zero, he got that what the rescue workers needed to hear wasn't that people were praying for them, but rather that we we're going to go after who did this. It occurs to me that a big part of leadership is simply the ability to read a crowd.
    • One thing that really did bother me about the show, though, is that when Bush talks about his thoughts at day's end and how he wanted to know why we didn't know about this, the producers choose to shift the camera away from W's face and focus on the infamous pre 9/11 memo that talks about al Qaeda's desire to attack the U.S. (duh). I guess what made me mad about it was that it was so unfair. The whole show is supposed to be about Bush's recollections of 9/11. It's his story, not history, and by showing that memo they're trying to take the narrative from him and say something else, without giving him a chance to respond to it.

    One thing I've been trying to do lately is find original source material from 9/11. I'm more interested in reading what people said then now than reading what people say now about what they thought then. I haven't found too much - it's amazing how much of the internet of 2001 is already gone, but I did find bits & pieces of a Yahoo! message board from that morning. The one odd post just said:

    This is incredible!! Highlight of the year!!

    That's kind of incredibly tasteless, but it's real and I kind of get it. It was exciting, at least from a safe distance away. That's what I what to read, what people really thought, rather than what they think they thought or think they should thought with 10 years' distance behind them.

    Posted by kris at August 28, 2011 10:37 PM

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