More on Laura

All day, something else about Laura Bush's much-discussed comment—"[M]any parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody."—has been niggling at the back of my mind, and I finally figured out what it is, after Shaker Carovee said in comments, "Can you imagine what the headlines would be like here … if there was ONE bombing a day?!"

Yes, I can. And not only that, I can imagine that if there were one day in which four airplanes were used as missiles, the entire country would plummet into a profound, grief-stricken shock from the depths of which we still wouldn't have fully recovered almost six years later.

That the scale of the average bombing in Iraq is not remotely the same as what happened here on 9/11 is not the point—the grotesque beauty of terror is that intimate attacks can be equally as effective at terrorizing, if not at killing, as those writ large.

This country was stunned by 9/11. We were wounded. We were discombobulated. We were, according to plan, terrorized. In other words, we reacted as humans react to such things. Given time, humans heal, too. But George Bush prevented America from healing, from emerging out from under the weight of terror. Our collective fear, the pliant submission it yielded, was blissfully useful for a president with pretensions of tyranny and a yen to dismantle that pesky Constitution. Where Bin Laden left off, Dubya took over—and he's been screaming panic-inducing reminders from the top of that pile of rubble ever since. Remember 9/11.

Few people should know better the intensity of the fear after 9/11, should know better the power of continually exploiting the fear of terrorized people, should know better their inability to heal if terror never ends, should know better that one bombing a day is enough to do more than discourage people than the First Lady. How can she pretend she doesn't understand the significance, the fear, the pain, of one bombing a day, when her husband's entire presidency has been built around one day of bombing?

What bothers me is the undercurrent of her comment that those of us who despair at the loss of innocent life in Iraq—which now far exceeds the American blood spilled on 9/11 and the number of troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq—are wrong to care about the people we were supposedly liberating, that their pain is not equal to ours, that, while one day of bombing here fundamentally changed this country and anyone who disagreed was a traitor, one bombing a day there is deserving neither of our attention nor our anguish.

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