Obama's First 9/11 As President

More

Eight years ago, Barack Obama was a state senator from Illinois. Now the world wrought by 9/11--an America with two wars to prosecute--is his. He's the president we've had since 9/11 who isn't named Bush.

Obama's world is so fluid. If someone had told you in the fall of 2006, when Americans were dying in Iraq and the Democratic wave began, that three years later Iraq would be relatively calm and we'd be talking about defeat in Afghanistan you'd have been amazed. Three years ago, the left loved to tweak George W. Bush about not finding Bin Laden. Now, they don't bug Obama about the same failure to fine a 6'5" man with supposed dialysis needs.

The Pentagon's was rebuilt in a year and New York still has a hole in the ground. The federal government was reorganized at the insistence, largely, of Democrats who pushed for a Homeland Security department. Now, it's hard to imagine that the behemoth won't be broken up sometime down the road.

The Patriot Act and other laws born of that day have been tweaked but the larger civil liberty questions remain. Guantanamo Bay is still a prison and the U.S. will continue to struggle to deal with combatants who aren't traditional POWs.

Every president for the foreseeable future will be shaped by 9/11 just as the presidents of the last century inherited, say, the Cold War and chose to fight it in their own way. The day is still a tragedy still but it's now an inheritance, too.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

This Short Film Skewers Hollywood, Probably Predicts Disney's Next Hit

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

How Will Climate Change Affect Cities?

Urban planners and environmentalists predict the future of city life.

Video

The Inner Life of a Drag Queen

A short documentary about cross-dressing, masculinity, identity, and performance

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In