This week brought the anniversary of Katrina (and the government's woeful response) and an unfortunate series of Rumsfeld speeches that both lamented our enemies' unparalleled PR talents and compared the anti-Iraq war majority to Hitler appeasers. The week also caught the media with egg on its collective face with the shocking (!) revelation that John Mark Karr was not, in fact, JonBenet's killer (you don't say!). For HuffPost bloggers' takes on these and other hot topics, check out our roundup below. And to find all of our Katrina anniversary posts, go here.
Last Friday in Atlanta, I met an authentic American hero: Max Cleland. To Cleland, fearlessness is essential to good leadership. Dealing with one's fears is what he calls "the inner work" necessary before one can become a leader. "If you're dominated by your fears," he told me, "you won't make good decisions when the hard times come and you are facing tough choices."
The more we learn to overcome the fears that limit us and to live in fearlessness, the more we'll be able to counter the dark forces -- both political and cultural -- looking to keep us shrouded in a fog of fear.
President Bush made another stop on his Fall of Fear Tour Monday, delivering a thunderingly obvious speech in which he repeatedly, strenuously, and desperately tried to convince us of something we're already convinced of -- that terrorists are not nice people. Thanks for the heads up, Mr. President. What's next, a compelling argument that fire is hot? That K-Fed can't sing? The question in 2006 isn't whether terrorists are evil; it's what is the most effective way to fight them. A hint: it isn't staying the course in Iraq.
Democrats looking for another way to nationalize the midterm elections need look no further than their movie multiplexes and DVD players.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar abruptly pulled the plug on yesterday's scheduled vote on John Bolton. I'm hearing that the White House put a lot of pressure on Lugar to put all the business of the Foreign Relations Committee on hold so that it didn't look like the only thing being delayed was the Bolton vote, but that Lugar, in one more illustration of the weakened state of the White House, refused to go along with the ruse. Yesterday's postponement, coupled with Chris Dodd's promise of a Democratic filibuster, means Bolton's chances of getting another go-round at the UN are looking Nicole Richie slim. READ MORE
Tony Blair is clearly not George Bush. And that's why Blair's career trajectory is so tragic. Bush squandered all the good will and potential for change that existed after 9/11, while Blair squandered his considerable personal potential by his mystifying support of the foreign policy debacles of his American counterpart.
With the first part of ABC's The Path to 9/11 scheduled to premiere tonight, the controversy surrounding it has lit up the HuffPost blog. Check out the fired-up takes of Rick Perlstein, Taylor Marsh, Eric J. Weiner, Matt Stoller, Eric Boehlert, Nikki Finke, Frank Dwyer, Martin Lewis, Mona Gable, Bruce Kluger, Rick Jacobs, RJ Eskow, Davis Sweet, Steve Brant and Max Blumenthal. The week's other hot topic was Bush's ongoing Fall of Fear Tour, and his efforts to ratchet up the rhetoric on Iraq, the war on terror, and national security. Don't miss the blowback from Kathleen Reardon, Harry Shearer, Trudi Loh, Howie Klein, and Robert Elisberg (mine's here). And, if you haven't already done so, click here to visit our new Becoming Fearless section.
There is a special poignancy to starting a tour for a book about fearlessness -- which I am today -- on the five-year anniversary of one of the most fear-filled days in all our lives. It underscores my belief that fearlessness is not the absence of fear, but rather the mastery of fear. Unfortunately, if often takes a crisis to bring some much-needed perspective to our lives. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when the world around us appeared to be collapsing, we weren't afraid whether we looked fat in those jeans or terrified how our boss would react if we asked for that raise. The challenge lies in learning how we can bring that sense of perspective and fearlessness into our everyday lives -- even without a crisis.
Looking back on 9/11 from five years down the road, it's disheartening to see how quickly we've fallen back on many of our old habits. Remember how that horrible day was supposed to change things forever? And for a while it did. The media abandoned their obsession with JonBenet, Gary Condit, and shark attacks and did an exemplary job of keeping us informed. Our political leaders set aside petty squabbles and put the national interest first. And our navel-gazing culture collectively glanced up, finally focusing on the needs of others. In many ways, the period following 9/11 was the best of times amidst the worst of times. It would be a nice tribute to those whose lives didn't continue past that day to say that the change lasted, but, sadly, it didn't.
On Sunday, Dick Cheney offered a picture of what completing the mission in Iraq would look like that was as untethered from reality as the notion of purple unicorns taking sips from the Euphrates. Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to buy into the GOP's "complete the mission" framing. Hillary Clinton certainly did during the Senate debate on Don Rumsfeld. "We went to war with the secretary of defense we had," she said. "Now is the time to complete the mission with a new secretary of defense that we need." As a soundbyte it was a winner -- a pithy callback of a Rummy classic. But as a message it was a total loser. Please tell us, Sen. Clinton: what "mission" are you talking about, and how will we know we've completed it?
In a bad sign for Republican chances in 2006, it looks like the hot and heavy affair between George Bush and America's "security moms" is flaming out. Big time.
In an effort to circumvent Senate resistance, the White House surgically removes Bolton's brain and places it into the body of a less controversial nominee. READ MORE
Security Moms to Bush: We're Just Not that Into You Anymore In a bad sign for Republican chances in 2006, it looks like the hot and heavy affair between George Bush and America's "security moms" is flaming out. Big time. READ MORE
Fear and Perspective: No One Asked "Do I Look Fat in these Jeans?" on 9/11 In many ways, the period following 9/11 was the best of times amidst the worst of times. But, sadly, it didn't last. READ MORE
The 5th anniversary of 9/11 dominated the early part of the week's news, and it captured the attention of the HuffPost blog as well. Don't miss the takes of Paul Rieckhoff, Robert Scheer, Rachel Sklar, Jesse Kornbluth, George Lakoff, Max Blumenthal, David Corn, Suzanne Nossel, Patt Morrison, Scott Thill, Taylor Marsh, RJ Eskow, Tim Dickinson, Steve Clemons, and James Boyce (here's mine). For more of the week's posts, check out our Sunday Roundup below. And take a look at the video for our new "Fearless" theme song.
Maybe it's like buying a yellow car and then suddenly you start seeing yellow cars all over the place, but wherever I turn there is talk of fear and standing up to fearmongering. Last week the fear talk was provoked by three events: the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the death of the fearless Ann Richards, and four Republican Senators and a former Secretary of State standing up to the administration's fear-drenched rhetoric. I've found Colin Powell's sudden display of fearlessness particularly significant. There was nothing common about his opposition to the Bush administration's attempt to redefine Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It was a catalytic act that is already emboldening others in the GOP to follow their conscience instead of toeing the party line.
When it comes to scaring the American people, the Bush administration is in a league of its own -- the fear-mongering equivalent of the 1927 New York Yankees, the Steel Curtain Pittsburgh Steelers, or the Showtime era Lakers of Magic, Kareem, and James Worthy. Everywhere you turn, there is another Alarmist All-Star. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rummy, Rove. Over the last five years, this Murderers' Row of home run-for-your-life hitters has already guaranteed itself a place in the Fear-Mongering Hall of Shame with Ruthian blasts of pulse-quickening, anxiety-inducing Red Alert rhetoric. Call them the Sultans of Cold Sweat. But Team Terror is not content to rest on its laurels. Indeed, the 2006 season is proving that the Bush Hall of Shamers are in top form.