George W. Bush isn’t usually remembered as handling Islamic Extremism particularly well, especially considering Americans are still dealing with the after math of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over 13 years later. That said, despite the impact those wars had, all things considered George W. Bush handled 9/11 pretty well immediately after. America collectively went a little crazy, as evidenced by the PATRIOT ACT among other things, but had George W Bush riled everyone up and heightened the tension, things could have been a lot worse. Just imagine how bad Donald Trump’s fear mongering would be days after a 9/11 sized terrorist attack.
It’s impossible to tell how Donald Trump would react to a 9/11 style attack as president, but it’s pretty obvious it would be a lot different than how George W. Bush handled things. Forget what happened a few years later, in the weeks following Bush walked one of history’s tensest tight ropes. Bush had to be careful not to marginalize American Muslims, simultaneously calming Americans fears while also ensuring there was an adequate response to the attack.
That’s not to say there weren’t significant problems with George W. Bush’s post 9/11 policy, the war in Iraq and PATRIOT ACT are just two of many acts which were simply unacceptable. That said, in the haze following the biggest attack on civilians in American history it was the entire government overreacting and it’s pretty easy to see how that overreaction may have occurred. The entire United States government hopefully wouldn’t devolve into senseless xenophobia and race baiting. Those voices are always present, but George W. Bush wasn’t one of them.
George W. Bush went on record multiple times calling Islam a religion of peace just days after 9/11. It’s pretty amazing how far Republican rhetoric has devolved since then, in fact as someone who was only 7 years old on 9/11 it’s kind of hard to believe Donald Trump and George W. Bush belong to the same party. Donald Trump channeled more xenophobic nationalism announcing his candidacy than George W. Bush did in 8 years. Without actively fear mongering the Bush administration started two wars and created the largest surveillance system the world has ever seen, they could have done a lot more.
Think about the state of affairs after 9/11. A conservative administration created a whole new branch of government. Defunding and dismantling the Department of Education on the grounds that it’s a “waste of money and too bureaucratic” is a mainstream Republican policy goal. After 9/11 George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, the government agency charged with making sure each of and every one of us takes our shoes off before we get on an airplane and even more importantly, at the time that was a popular policy decision.
A 9/11 style terror attack under Donald Trump would be historic and would almost certainly forever alter the path America is on. The first 9/11 did just that and George W. Bush did everything he could do to fight the fire. He picked through the burned down house and got what he wanted out of it, but he called the fire department when he saw the flames. Donald Trump has continually proved he doesn’t know how to do anything but throw gas on the fire.