02/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Who Was President on 9/11?

by Taylor Marsh

As the rehabilitation tour of George W. Bush finally, at long last, not soon enough for me, ends (we can only hope), tonight we will yet be treated to one more moment of pure alternative universe when our current president says a final farewell. The constant theme from Bush and Cheney, but also their apologists, as well as their bloviating sycophants on wingnut radio, is that Bush will be remembered for keeping America safe. When evaluating President Bush's presidency, everything for Republicans begins on September 12, 2001.

Ignored is the PDB: Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S. Ignored is that Bush was on vacation when he got that warning, but stayed on vacation and did nothing. Ignored was the fact that Richard Clarke's position focusing on terrorism, which had been a cabinet level post during WJC's presidency, was neutered so that Clarke couldn't even get a substantive meeting on the threats we faced until it was way too late. Ignored is the fact that all summer there were hair on fire warnings about something big about to happen. Ignored is the fact that WJC and his national security team warned Bush about the threats and Al Qaeda, but because of Bush-Cheney's Anything But Clinton philosophy, they ignored the threats already known and went it alone. People paid with their lives.

Republicans even blame WJC for 9/11, ignoring who was actually in charge the day of the carnage. That said, there is enough blame to go around, it's just that Bush never accepts any at all. Funny how in 1993, when the very first World Trade Center bombing happened just months after WJC came into office, that was never blamed on Bush 41. ...or that the hits we took in Lebanon on Reagan's watch were never calculated, when so many years later the Republican in office remained clueless about terrorism. Considering it was C.I.A. Director Casey under Reagan that helped fund bin Laden in Afghanistan, this is no small point.

Campbell Brown (video here) quoted Bush from Larry King's interview this week, where the president said something truly stunning. When asked if we had ever come close to catching Osama bin Laden, the president didn't have a clue:

King: Did we ever come close?

Bush: I don't know. I can't answer that.

From "dead or alive" to who knows?

Never addressed by Republicans is how many more enemies the U.S. has today than we did before Bush and Cheney's foreign policy laid waste to our strategic alliances. To Republicans, led by the noise machine on wingnut radio, helped along by Fox news, everything for George W. Bush begins on 9/12. It's really the most glaring insult of Bush's rehabilitation tour. Republicans want people to forget that not only was Bush caught unprepared on 9/11, but that once he regained his composure he not only let the culprit get away, but to this day he has no idea of what progress, if any, we've made in catching the man behind the largest post WWII attack in our country's history.

Even if Bin Laden is simply a symbol at this late date, that the commander in chief of this country hasn't a clue of our progress to bring him to justice says everything about George W. Bush as he leaves office.

Seven years later, Bin Laden remains the man who got away.