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article imageOp-Ed: Republican front-runner challenges party line on Sept. 11

By Nathan Salant     Oct 19, 2015 in Politics
Washington - Say what you want about Donald Trump, and there always seems to be plenty to say, the front-runner for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination is — to his credit — forcing all candidates to face important national issues they'd rather avoid.
Case in point: Trump's statements Friday about former President George W. Bush's actions and reactions to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
Trump told an interviewer for Bloomberg Television that the former president was at least partially to blame for the attacks, in which Islamist radicals inspired by Saudi financier Osama bin Laden flew hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
"When you talk about George [W.] Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time," Trump told Blomberg's Stephanie Butler, according to the Reuters news service.
"Blame him or don't blame him, but he was president,' Trump continued. "The World Trade Center came down during his reign."
There's no doubt that the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001, still reverberate in the lives of every U.S. resident, and will forever live on as a time stamp against which news events are measured.
But the nation has never had serious discussions with itself about the nature and wisdom of global reach, about the outward projection of U.S. philosophy or about how the furious U.S. reaction to the attacks changed the relationship between the U.S. Congress and U.S. president.
Isn't about time to seriously consider those topics and try to resolve other lingering questions about that horrific day?
Do U.S. residents approve of what has happened since 9/11? Are U.S. residents concerned about the president sending tens of thousands of troops overseas to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable lives? What does the U.S. and other nations teach children about the attacks?
Yes, the 9/11 terrorist attacks killed nearly 3,000 civilians and destroyed two iconic buildings. But in its response, the United States has killed many times more people in many other countries, kidnapped and executed citizens of those countries, and even curtailed the civil rights protections of its own citizens that were guaranteed as a condition of its very existence.
These are really the questions Trump is asking, and it's right for him, other candidates and every other U.S. resident to ask them, too, and to keep asking until we get some answers.
These may not have been the questions everyone expected from Republican Party candidates and not from Democrats, but we'll take what we can get.
And as heartwarming as it was to hear the so-far eerily silent Jeb Bush leap to his brother's defense Friday night, his response that George W. Bush had "kept us safe" and that Trump was "pathetic" to question the official narrative about 9/11 does not bode well for the guy's campaign.
The United States loves free speech and U.S. officeholders love being questioned by their constituents. If Jeb Bush thinks he can win by running against democracy and freedom of thought, let him try.
We can resume defining the term "pathetic" after the election, when we probably will have a fresh example.
So, say what you want to about Trump, and there obviously is a lot to say, but he does seem unafraid to ask the kinds of questions that could lead the United States and the rest of the world to some unanticipated and possibly painful realizations.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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