Regarding John Kerry’s opinion of what he would have done if he’d been in Bush’s position when given the news of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center, Condoleeza Rice said on Meet the Press Sunday:
DR. RICE: My reaction is that anyone who thinks they would have known exactly what they would have done under those circumstances–I just can’t imagine that you would say something like that. The president of the United States was confronted with one of the greatest tragedies that had befallen the United States in our 200-plus years of history. He decided on the spot that he was not going to alarm the third-graders. He was not going to alarm the American people. He was going to proceed in a calm way.
Forget the part about alarming the American people. They weren’t watching live pictures of Bush on a classroom visit, they were watching a catastrophe unfold in front of their eyes, which is most likely what Bush’s handlers at the school were doing. That’s a creepy thought, isn’t it? The first impulse of every adult in the country who was awake and could get to a TV was to find out what was going on; Bush didn’t do that.
Rice and others have presented the options that day as Bush’s choice of staying the scheduled course versus freaking out and running from the room. In that light, I present an edited version of a Fahrenheit 9/11 transcript, substituting another, more immediate threat for the WTC attacks.
NARRATOR: As the attack took place, Mr. Bush was on his way to an elementary school in Florida. When informed of
the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, where terrorists had struck just eight years prior,a grease fire that had broken out in the school’s kitchen, Mr. Bush decided to go ahead with this photo opportunity.
(Bush walking in, pictures flashing, he’s smiling)
When the second plane hit the tower,When initial attempts to extinguish the fire had failed, his Chief of Staff entered the classroom and told Mr. Bush the nation is under attackthe fire was spreading throughout the school. (familiar scene of Andy Card leaning in, Bush grimacing, biting his lip) Not knowing what to do, with no one telling him what to do, and no Secret Service rushing in to take him to safety, Mr. Bush just sat there and continued to read ‘My Pet Goat’ with the children. (Bush looks visibly concerned… clock ticks away in the corner of the screen) Nearly seven minutes passed with nobody doing anything.
Would anyone have thought that was a good idea? Would the prudent thing in the case of a fire be to sit there for seven minutes? Not to “alarm” the children? I think most intelligent people would have taken Kerry’s path. And maybe glanced at the TV.