Are 9/11 Politics Really Over?

The Politico is declaring that with Rudy’s utter defeat in the Republican primaries, “9/11 politics” are at an end.  I beg to differ.

I do see where the Politico’s coming from here.  Rudy’s use of 9/11 rhetoric throughout his presidential bid has already reached legendary status, and his fal from grace was perhaps the most rapid and spectacular.  The candidate who once seemed unstoppable finally had to leave the race with a meager two delegates under his belt.

But to claim that 9/11 politics is over discounts even a cursory look at why Rudy failed as well as what is going on elsewhere in American politics.

Simply put, pinning the fate of 9/11 politics on Rudy just isn’t fair; he turned out to be outright terrible.  For one, Rudy’s dependence upon that day for his political fortunes had become an act of self parody.  He simply overdid it.  And the constant reminders were still not enough to put out of the minds of voters all the skeletons that were positively bursting out of Rudy’s half open closet.

And all of this was overshadowed by the sheer fact that Rudy took a big and considerably stupid gamble by skipping all of the states prior to Florida, and lost huge.  It wasn’t 9/11 politics that failed Rudy, it was Rudy that failed Rudy.

We know 9/11 politics still aren’t quite dead yet.  We know this in the ongoing FISA battle, and the war in Iraq that just doesn’t want to end, and probably won’t end given the probabilities of who will be our next president.  We see it in the continuous calls for war with Iran.

The phrase “9/11” may be getting tired, but never forget that the driving force behind its politics is fear.  Terror Management Theory.  And as long as there are politicians who want something bad enough, and as long as people are susceptible to it, we will be at the thrall of those who say, “Do this, or you and your family will die.”  It’s what Bush has been doing now for over six years, and with McCain and his call for more wars, with Clinton and her neoconservative buddies whispering in her ear, and Romney with his doubling of Gitmo, I’m afraid it’s just a little too early to say that the age of terror politics are at an end.

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