The return of Bullhorn Man

We've heard this story before. Too bad it's not true.

Published August 7, 2007 11:38AM (EDT)

So CNN's Glenn Beck, fresh off a private chat with the president, has declared that George W. Bush is a man of "incredible passion and resolve."

"He's not the guy you see on TV," Beck said over the weekend in Idaho. "He is the guy on the truck with the bull horn, and for years I have been wondering, 'Where is that guy?' He is alive and well."

Which is all well and good, we suppose, except for two things.

First, we've been told before that the man with the bullhorn never really went away. A year ago this month -- which is to say, just before the president and his party took a "thumpin'" in the midterm elections -- then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said of Bush, "We are truly fortunate to have a leader of resolve at a time of war. Through all the challenges, he remains the same man who stood atop the rubble of lower Manhattan, with a bullhorn, vowing to fight back."

Second, it's probably worth noting what the man with the bullhorn actually said when he visited ground zero on Sept. 14, 2001. Bush told cheering rescue and recovery workers: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Nearly six years later, the National Intelligence Estimate says that al-Qaida -- "the people who knocked down these buildings" -- has "protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability" and is likely plotting attacks on "prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the U.S. population."

As for Osama bin Laden himself? Bush has said at various times that he wanted him "dead or alive," that he sort of regrets saying that he wanted him "dead or alive," that he's "truly ... not that concerned about him," and that he never said that he wasn't concerned about him.

Asked Monday if he, like Sen. Barack Obama, would go after top al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan even if President Pervez Musharraf said no, the man who used to have a bullhorn was reduced to saying that he's "confident that, with actionable intelligence, we will be able to bring top al-Qaida to justice."

Oh, and the bullhorn? It's at the Smithsonian now, like Custer's buckskin jacket, Dorothy's ruby slippers and other relics of history.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

9/11 George W. Bush Glenn Beck Osama Bin Laden War Room