Jonah Goldberg

"We have come together with a unity of purpose because our nation demands it. September 11, 2001, was a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States. The nation was unprepared."

These are among the first lines of the 9/11 Commission's report. The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and other leading newspapers pushed hard for the creation of the commission and urged Congress and the White House to adopt its recommendations. All of the famous conclusions of the 9/11 Commission were given prominent attention in the pages of these papers. For example, when the commissioners scolded the government for its "failure of the imagination," the editorialists nodded like a chorus of bobbleheads.

In the years since 9/11, all of these organs have given a megaphone to those castigating the president for failing to unite the country more. Sept. 11 was a "missed opportunity," according to countless liberal voices, because in spite of the nation's unity, the president didn't ask for a shared sacrifice. All of these elite voices - and they number in the hundreds - subscribed to a pinched and narrow definition of "sacrifice." Indeed, it was a grand game of bait-and-switch. Unity and sacrifice must be measured in terms of tax hikes and economic redistribution.

As befits his role in public discourse, Bill Moyers provided an illuminating caricature of this thinking. After the 9/11 attacks, he wrote, "This catastrophe has reminded us of a basic truth at the heart of our democracy: No matter our wealth or status or faith, we are all equal before the law, in the voting booth and when death rains down from the sky." And because of this, Moyers argued, America must implement the usual laundry list of liberal social policies, including the repeal of NAFTA and the implementation of single-payer health care.

But Moyers was hardly alone. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., proclaimed in the Washington Post that 9/11 justified a "new New Deal." The New York Times joyously proclaimed that "Big Government Is Back in Style," and its indefatigable chorus of asininity - Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd et al. - pounded their spoons on their high chairs about the un-Americanness of tax cuts during a war. "Since 9/11, our government has asked no sacrifice of civilians other than longer waits at airline security," Frank Rich whined.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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