It's hard, even today, to really remember the carnage of 9/11, the sense of piercing fear in what had been a placid lake of prosperity. At that moment, anything great and anything terrible was possible. People remember him with a bullhorn on top of rubble, but President George W. Bush also prevented innumerable hate crimes by simply saying that Islam is a religion of peace. That sentiment represented the best of America. But then, he gave yet another clarion call, which was more important than his call for tolerance -- go shopping.
That was his moment, and that was his prescription for America. Go shopping. Now Obama has his moment, a moment richly earned by his security strategy. What will he use it for? It isn't clear. The forces of the status quo are powerful. This past weekend, Seth Meyers presided over a popularity contest between a birther-hugging cynic, Donald Trump, and the President, Barack Obama. It was D.C.'s version of a Royal Wedding.
But then, on Sunday night, President Obama announced that Navy SEALS had delivered two bullets to Osama Bin Laden. Flag-waving throngs gathered outside the White House and in New York City to celebrate, clambering up trees and expressing joyful patriotism and exuberance. Others were more somber, remembering that death, even for one's enemies, is not to be welcomed lightly.
But I listened to our president, the one who only the day before had been throwing around amiable jokes about the political establishment. He said something that stuck with me, and should stick with all of us:
"And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to."
If this is true, and I believe it is, then we have much to do. If we can do whatever we set our minds to, then we should not be held back in our attempt to ending the banking oligarchy strangling our economy. If it is true that our struggle is one for "equality for all our citizens," as the president said, then we should end our poisonous petro-political path. As Glenn Hurowitz said, "now that we've killed Osama, let's kill oil." If it is the case that we up for our values abroad, then let's leave Afghanistan and end our highly destructive war on drugs.
This is now a moment. George W. Bush used his moment on behalf of the forces of the status quo. He told us, to go shopping.
Is the era of shopping over?