Maureen Dowd | Washington Manned Up and Let Us Down After 9/11 – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“WASHINGTON — I’m not one of those people who think women make naturally better leaders than men, more collegial and collaborative. I’ve covered enough women in the upper ranks, and worked for and with enough women, to know that it depends on the individual.

Yet when I look back at 9/11 and the torrent of tragic, perverse blunders that followed, I think about men seized by a dangerous strain of hyper-masculinity; fake tough-guy stuff; a caricature of strength — including the premature “Mission Accomplished” scene of George W. Bush strutting on an aircraft carrier in his own version of “Top Gun.”

All of that empty swaggering ended up sapping America and making our country weaker.

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld wrecked W.’s presidency, with their overweening ideas about big-stick executive power, developed in the Ford administration when they were feeling crimped by post-Watergate restrictions; with their determination to exorcise our post-Vietnam ambivalence about using force; and with their loony plan to establish America as the sole superpower by preemptively striking potential foes. (Cheney, always ready to bomb despite his five deferments during Vietnam.) And of course, there was that most belligerent and shameful act: sanctioning torture.

This unholy pair of consiglieres played into W.’s fear that he would be called a wimp, as his father once was, if he did not go along with the guns-blazing, facts-be-damned case to sideline Afghanistan and invade Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.”

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