Terrorist Attack and the Shattered Executive

What would happen if there were a major terrorist offensive in the next few months now that the Executive is broken.

It seems like Bush is going nuts, and Cheney has almost no support, so who would step up to the plate and handle a state of emergency?


The system would function. Things are not at all disorganised on the “handle an emergency” front, only on the “everybody hates me, Mommy” front. The lower levels know their jobs, and will do them.

Al Haig would be in control.

The same people who stepped up to the plate on 9-11 when Bush was rabbiting around the country looking for a safe haven and Cheney was in his bunker: The mayor of the city that gets hit. The governor of the state that gets hit. The local chief of police. The FBI. The local firefighters. The National Guard.

I have plenty of issues with how this administration has prepared for future attacks: Not paying sufficient attention to port security, for example. But I don’t doubt that our first responders have been taking the lessons of 9-11 very seriously and are ready to move even given the leadership vacuum above.

With all the complaints that Bush sat with a “deer in the headlights” look pondering matters caprine during the WTC/Pentagon attacks, yet the nation did not crumble, what would you expect to be different?

Besides, criticisms of Bush frequently miss the point. It is quite possible that Miers really was a stalking horse to let him appoint Alito and that he is carrying out the exact plan that he intended all along. If that is the case, then the only thing that is “shattered” is his popularity, and during a crisis, when the only things required are the effective issuance and execution of orders, not the prolonged wooing of votes in Congress, popularity is not that important.

Bush’s failures during the hurricane disasters were those of having destroyed FEMA’s effectiveness when he restored cronyism to the department and a couple of slips as he golfed or mourned Trent Lott’s porch, but he was actually rather effective in handling those portions of the crises that are under his direct control: requesting emergency funding, using his authority to pressure state and local officials to take the threats seriously; staying the hell out of the way (aside from the obligatory photo ops).

If there is another serious terrorist attack, it would (at this time) undermine his ability to get some of his programs passed and he probably would not be able to use it as an excuse to invade Iran (I hope), but aside from causing his party some (undetermined) loss of seats in Congress, his actions would do little to affect the country.

Well I believe that the administration is melting down inside. I think everyone is scattering and covering their own asses. Of course I might be wrong, but I think they are all down and out.

He says Osama bin Laden is irrelevant, but I don’t buy it. This is the man who claimed he could muster 100,000 troops to aid Saudi Arabia against an Iraqi invasion, and pleaded with them not to allow American forces in.

What I’m wondering is, what if there was a massive popular uprising, and we have no executive to confirm military orders in case of a real and pressing need. I mean, I am certain we’ll survive it, I never thought anything in America was ever under threat except for damage to the economy, and people being killed in particular instances, but I never felt like the country or it’s way of life were ever truly threatened, and I still do not feel that way now. What concerns me is our inability to respond to a real threat should it surface.

Basically what I see is that the branch that is supposed to be there to handle the operations in the present is quite simply not there. I do not believe that this is better than it was having people actually in control.

I can’t shake the feeling that this is the worst thing that has happened to us in this presidency. Though I believe in the long run it’s a good thing because future presidents will remember this, and know that the executive is not unassailable without the support of the people.