Thinking back to George W. Bush’s farewell address it’s striking that the best thing the man can say about his record in office is that only once during his term in office were 3,000 people killed by foreign terrorists. And it’s really striking that other people in the conservative movement seem to take this “accomplishment” very seriously. Here’s Christian Brose and here’s Dov Zakheim being very referent about the whole thing.
I thought I might draw their attention to the following CAPAF analysis of mass-casualty terrorist attacks on U.S. soil throughout the twentieth century:
Notice anything? I mean, it’s true that Bush’s record in keeping the United States safe from terrorism is good if you ignore the failure. On the economy, they make the same claim. Sure, Bush has overseen the worst performance ever but if you ignore the recessions, times were pretty good!
Of course my chart is arguably unfairly kind to Bill Clinton so maybe we should expand it to include major attacks abroad as well. Then Clinton goes from zero to one (Kenya), while Bush goes from one to three in the West (9/11, Madrid, and London) plus Bali plus dozens and dozens of attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s just no way to get around the basic facts here. The effort to argue otherwise is basically just trading on the fact that most people, myself included, were very very frightened in September and October of 2001 and our worst fears haven’t come to pass.