On my flight home from Boston yesterday, I sat next to a pleasant young couple. He's the entrepreneurial son of a family that runs a restaurant and has other businesses. She's going to business school part time and running his family's ice cream shop. They were going to Miami for a week's vacation.
As I dozed off — I've gotten very good at sleeping on planes — I heard the pleasant young lady explaining to her partner that she couldn't vote for Kerry because he would surrender to the terrorists. Later in the flight, the nice young man explained to me that he thought people were making too much of the pictures of prisoner abuse, since the people over there are basically animals.
It shakes your faith in the basic decency of people, it does.
Here, meanwhile, is an account of the great GW Bush's efforts to help us be safe and secure in the War on Terror™ — so great that everyone put in charge quits in disgust within a few months. One writes a book, another goes to work for the Kerry campaign:
The New Republic Online: Campaign Journal: A couple of Friday afternoons ago, the White House quietly announced that an NSC staffer named Frances Fragos Townsend was leaving her post as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism, the job also known as the White House counterterrorism czar. She is leaving to replace General John A. Gordon as Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor, the White House job that Tom Ridge had before the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
Why would this staff change qualify for a late Friday dump? Two reasons. One is that Gordon, a retired Air Force general and 36-year public servant, was apparently none too pleased with the Bush approach to homeland security. He hasn't spoken publicly, but that's what the national security grapevine in Washington is buzzing about.
Secondly, Townsend's move was a reminder that the White House counterterrorism job is the bureaucratic equivalent of the drummer in Spinal Tap. Bush has now gone through five of them since 9/11. (Clinton had one.) Like Spinal Tap's drummers, who often choked on their own vomit or spontaneously combusted, Bush's counterterrorism aides all seem to disappear under unusual circumstances.
First there was Richard Clarke. We all know what happened to him. He left his post in disgust and wrote a book arguing that Bush paid no attention to terrorism before 9/11 and that the war in Iraq was a monumental diversion from the fight against al Qaeda and a gift to jihadist recruiters across the Muslim world. Clarke was replaced by General Wayne Downing, a pro-Iraq war hawk. Nonetheless, he had a similar experience, lasting a total of 10 months before abruptly resigning in frustration at how the White House bureaucracy was responding to the terrorist threat. Downing was replaced by two men, General Gordon, who lasted ten months before moving on to his homeland security job, and Rand Beers, who resigned in disgust over the Iraq war after seven months in his post. His experience was searing enough that he immediately joined the Kerry campaign. Beers was replaced by Townsend, who has now been tapped to replace Gordon, who is apparently resigning under circumstances similar to Clarke and Beers.