May 20, 2002
Tanned, rested, and ready

We had a great time at the Schlitterbahn. It's amazing what a stress-free weekend, plus a full day of activity, will do for your ability to sleep.

Even though I'm now squarely behind the commentary curve, it felt good to spend a few days not thinking in terms of how I'd blog this or that. I'm nowhere near burnout, but a little recharging never hurt anyone.

The big topic everyone's talking about, of course, is What Did Bush Know and What Could He Have Done About It. I find myself struggling with this question - I agree with Bush bashers as well as defenders. There's plenty of blame here, and it's neither productive nor useful to spend all one's time pointing fingers.

Of course, blind allegiance to the boss isn't going to help either. The buck has to stop somewhere, and if Team Bush is going to focus their efforts on hunting down some low-level functionaries to take a bullet for the Big Guy, well, at some point one has to wonder just what the President is responsible for. I think Josh Marshall got it exactly right when he suggested that Bush say

Look, in hindsight, there are connections maybe we should have made. Communications should have been better between various intelligence and law enforcement agencies. But hindsight is 20/20 and these things were not as clear then as they are now. Our people did the best they knew how. But I'm the Commander-in-Chief. And I'm responsible. The buck stops here. Let's move ahead now and make whatever improvements we can.

Failures happen. The bigger the disaster, the more you owe it to everyone who was or could be affected by it to figure out why it happened and what could be done to help prevent it in the future. MIT's Technology Review, a fascinating mix of all forms of technology and innovation, has in its current issue an article about 10 massive technology failures, ranging from the ill-fated 1628 Swedish warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage, to the recent Concorde disaster. In each case, whether the fault was pure human weakness or "perfect storm" conditions, we learned from them, and as a result we're all less likely to die in various horrible circumstances.

I don't blame Bush for 9/11. But if his resistance to finding out the full truth about it leads to another such incident, I will hold him solely responsible. There's nothing that Rummy or Condi or Cheney or Ari can say now that will carry any weight with me if it has to be said a second time.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 20, 2002 to National news