The lessons 9/11 can teach us about picking a president

By Tom Allon

I remember being angry for at least seven years that our then feckless and incompetent President George Bush could not bring Osama Bin Laden to justice for his declaration of war on 9/11.

On that tragic day, I remember being dumbfounded that the world’s largest superpower did not have the proper intelligence to stop an attack from a ragtag bunch of stateless terrorists. Isn’t that why we pay so much of our taxes to support our country’s massive defense infrastructure—for the CIA, the FBI, military intelligence?

Three weeks before 9/11 Osama Bin Laden warned of “an unprecedented attack on America.” How could George Bush and Dick Cheney, the worst president and veep in modern American history, miss that audacious warning? Later we learned that CIA Director George Tenet tried to alert the administration to the unusual chatter from terrorists, but his alarm went unheeded in those dog days of summer.

When George Bush was elected (in a corrupt counting of votes in Florida that stole the election from Al Gore), the die was cast. After eight years of peace and prosperity under Clinton-Gore, our country was sent down a rabbit hole under leadership that was unqualified and which took us into two misguided wars that ravaged the Middle East and then our country’s economy.

Bush-Cheney sent our young troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight against the wrong people, while the Most-Wanted Man since Adolf Hitler was able to operate unfettered to plot more evil.

It was only a decade later, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and Barack Obama was president, that we were able to hunt down Bin Laden in Pakistan and skillfully execute the man responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths on 9/11.

I was thinking about this as I watched the 9/11 services this past Sunday. It made me realize how vitally important it is that we elect the right president in November.

We cannot elect an incompetent president like George Bush again. Our country barely survived his eight years of reckless leadership, first in allowing 9/11 to occur, then in rushing to war in the wrong places and then finally in a near total economic collapse.

This is the scenario that once again could unfold if we elect a man who is clearly unfit for office. Who, like Bush, is an anti-intellectual who will not read intelligence briefings, who will lead from his gut.

We need a leader like Hillary, who pushed Obama to finally execute Bin Laden, who spent four years intensively crisscrossing the globe trying to maintain peace and important alliances.

Of course she is a flawed candidate. She made a mistake in voting in favor of the Iraq war. She did not handle Benghazi well.

But none of that should in any way distract us from the stark choice ahead — Hillary Clinton is a smart, tough, thorough woman who will sweat the details of governing. She will not make the mistakes that Bush made, the potentially tragic mistakes that I fear her opponent, Donald Trump, will make.

On this solemn day, as I watch the news of Hillary Clinton’s feeling unwell, I pray for her health. She is the only thing standing between us and another four years of unqualified leadership.

We now know from the experience of 9/11, Iraq and the Great Recession of 2007, what bad leadership can do to our great country.

Tom Allon, president of City & State NY, was a Republican and Liberal Party-backed mayoral candidate in 2013 before he left to return to the private sector. Reach him at tallon@cityandstateny.com.

More from Around New York