Keller @ Large: What Have We Learned About Ourselves?

BOSTON (CBS) – The days following a major, all-consuming national news event are always an interesting time, a relatively rare moment when everyone is talking about and reacting to the same thing, and it gives us a chance to measure where we are as a national culture.

So what have we learned about ourselves this week?

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

We’ve learned, or maybe just been reminded, that we remain the strongest military power on earth, capable of amazing military feats using the most advanced military technology and the world’s best-trained personnel.

And we’ve learned that when it comes to protecting our homeland and taking out those who would threaten it, there isn’t that much difference between a very liberal president and a very conservative one.

Our enemies around the world may hate us as much or more than ever this week, but only the willfully ignorant among them still cling to the notion that America is too weak and soft to fight back when attacked.

We’re learned once again that as much as we tend to rally around the flag at certain moments for awhile, there is no such thing as the lasting national political unity President Obama was appealing for in his speech Sunday night.

It quickly became impossible to keep track of all the various splinter groups who were grinding axes over the bin Laden killing, from right-wingers challenging the very fact of his death to left-wingers hand-wringing over whether he was armed to Native American groups complaining that the code name for the mission was Geronimo.

I recall that the legitimate sense of political unity we felt right after the 9-11 attacks lasted about a month, maybe less; that may have to stand as the modern-day record.

And one other thing we learned about ourselves this week — we haven’t forgotten 9-11, at least, most of us haven’t.

When I saw the president yesterday greeting a ten-year-old boy in New York whose father had been murdered by bin Laden’s crew, I felt once again all the anger and sorrow of that time.

It’s right there, beneath the surface, and I bet I’m not the only one who will carry it forever.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • StanleyRamon

    I was just thinking this morning, while listening to news reports about who was armed and not armed, “jeez, can’t we just be happy the guy’s dead.” The reality is that it will be over-analyzed forever, as if we could ever forget a moment in history like this one; like Lee Harvey Oswald.

  • redlawin

    i agree. give it a rest and be thankful that the guy is now where he needs to be. why wonder how it went down. we got him and that’s all that matters.

  • graywolf

    Jon I am sure a lot of people are thinking the same thoughts you listed. How can a sense of pride and unity be replaced so quickly by criticism. The most wanted person on earth was caught with precision on foreign soil without the support of the country he was in. That is all that needs to be said.

    As far as unity, when the ex-President of the United States refuses to appear at ground zero to meet with the families whose wounds have been reopened because he is feeling some imaginary slight, what kind of message does that send. Individualism is one of the biggest obstacles we face and Bush just made it all about him instead of about a country that, as you said, clearly has not forgotten September 11.

    • Willow

      Well said, Graywolf, My feelings exactly.

      • roudydowdy

        Former president George W. Bush went through eight years of love and hate, praise and criticism, action and frustration. I think he earned a quiet retirement.

  • jaygee

    All of this “greatness” also comes at a high cost. Vietnam was an unnecessary war that cost 59,000 American lives along with 1 million Vietnamese deaths and for what? A divided country along with wasted lives and wasted billions.
    Our meddling in the Middle East & total support of Israel against all Arabs is what prompted 9/11. We go into Iraq, basically by ourselves, not because of these elusive WMD’s but because Bush wanted to kill Saddam Hussein. This cost us more American lives and a trillion dollar conflict that still goes on 9 years after it’s beginning. I don’t call it a war because it takes two armies to fight a war. Bad things don’t happen for no reason and it’s time that people understand that our hands also have blood on them. We haven’t exactly supported the greatest of leaders around the world and because of that we have many who despise our government but not our people.

  • teri

    Hey, Graywolf, Bush didn’t go because of people like you and your haters who will burn him again at the cross. Wake up buddy, your beloved country is going down the drain.

    • graywolf

      Teri, You might find it interesting that the first person I thought of when Bin Laden was captured was Bush. I felt a sense of pride that he had played a part in it as well. I was never sure if Bush won the election but I was always sure that Gore could never have handled the time during and just after the attacks as well as Bush handled it. Bush didn’t go because he is self-serving and is promoting the divide that the right seem so intent on putting in place which is what will bring OUR beloved country down. Bush’s shortcomings belong to Bush alone.

      • BostonIrish

        graywolf, I so disagree with your “opinion” of Bush declining to celebrate with Obama. I just see your remarks as the consistent negative opinion of anything Bush. He breathes, therefore he’s wrong.

      • robinslj

        Well said Graywolf. I’m so sick of republicans trying to divide our country. They have drifted so far to the right that they no longer make sense to anyone but extremists. I hope to God we don’t elect any of the current wanna be-candidates!

      • StanleyRamon

        @BostonIrish- This will surprise you but I agree, I feel our former President Bush simply wishes to maintain a low profile and declined on that basis. Others will speculate as to the reasons for his somewhat reclusive behavior but I think the Presidency took its toll on him and he needs time away from the scrutiny. Also, I get a sense that he feels it would detract from the current President and the victims of 9-11.

      • graywolf

        StanleyRamon and BostonIrish I’d prefer to think you are right and that the reports of Bush feeling slighted because he’s not getting enough credit for the capture of Bin Laden are false reports. Other than his handling of September 11, one of the things I also admire about Bush was his decision to stay out of the forefront and let Obama do his job. I do not think Bush was afforded that same courtesy by his predecessor.

        I think you would find very few who would disagree there is a tremendous divide in this country – between Republicans and Democrats and even within the Republican party – that needs to be bridged. For the first time in far too long we saw that divide closed to a degree with the news that broke Sunday night. It is my “opinion” that Bush and Obama appearing together at ground zero could have also given it a boost and that for no other reason than the love of his country it was time for Bush to put that before anything else.

  • Ron

    I have to agree with everyone’s comments. Now is not the time for being divided.
    We need to pull together and capture or kill the rest of the ranking members of
    Al Qaida Then bring our troops home. We then have to keep our military forces ready to accomplish any similar mission in the future. We cannot assume that because one enemy has been defeated that there are no more waiting for the right time to do us harm.

  • Ellen

    Well, haven’t really learned anything as of yet. If we have then our borders would be better protected. Hello, the terrorists were already in this country, and I just bet theres a lot more of them living in our own backyard.


    We would’nt have these problems if we just minded our own business like Sweden, Norway, Spain, Finland, Switzerland, etc.

  • Cynic

    We have seen what the United States has become and it isn’t a pretty picture.
    Is there any other Nation on Earth that daily kills people in as many parts of the World as we?
    How can we argue with those that call us the Killer Nation?

  • DrStrangelove

    (Cynic, your question is surely the result of way too long a Friday lunch at a pub somewhere – Either that or one of us cannot possibly be coherent.) I would like to believe that Obama handled this situation with tact and efficiency; Bush declined the trip to Ground Zero as deference to the current Commander-in-Chief; Bin Laden got exactly what he deserved albiet too swiftly when death confronted him (I hope he suffered); there is no way Bin Laden’s daughter witnessed anything (nor would any witnesses exist); the “religious words” spoken at Bin Laden’s sea-dumping included the words “God” “no mercy” and “Hell; But mostly I would like to believe that there is some peace for the spirits of the 9/11 victims and their survivors.

    • Cynic

      If only we could believe what the Government tells us it would be a big plus.

  • The Owl

    There can be little national political unity when one side calls the other the “enemy” and “traitors”.

    President Obama’s impolitic remarks have been a significant contributor to the partisanship that grips our political process.

    As a leader, he should lead.

    That is has been quite difficult for him to grasp.

    • graywolf

      And yet he managed to bungle leading enough to capture Bin Laden.

      • BostonIrish

        Yeah, graywolf, he jumped from a helicopter and went commando on Bin Laden’s a**! How about: the military told him they can get him and he took the time to consider, then gave the command to go in? How about those efforts to locate the sob was active for some time, long before Obama was in office, and across time the situattion finally materialized while Obama is the elected chief? Yeah, I’m thinking that’s the case. But you go ahead and load up on the over-the-top we-got-him mentality for Obama. The holier-than-thou mindset is disgusting. I’m an independent, and right now the left is just rushing for a lift off of this and the approaching election. Obama made the right call. But he really struggled with it, as he should. Can you imagine if he said no? Me, neither. But don’t act like because of what happened suddenly gives him the “get out of partisan behavior” blame game. He’s AS guilty as anyone else in the game of politics.

      • graywolf

        That is a good question Cynic. I would like to see us use Israeli intelligence and anti-terrorism tactics more than we do. I sort of think in this case that we may have kept the information too close to share with any other country since it was eight months in the making. If we did share, I would think you are right that it would have been with the Israelis.

      • Cynic

        Graywolf…..With how much help from Isrealie Intelligence?

  • graywolf

    Of course you are very correct, Boston Irish, Obama did make the right call and he did not do it alone and he did not do it in a short period of time.. If you are trying to say his leadership had nothing to do with it, that would of course be preposterous. However, as I said earlier, Bush deserves credit as well – or perhaps you didn’t see my comment to that effect. You cannot take the leadership away from anyone involved in the outcome – Bush or Obama as Commanders in Chief to the seals who so bravely risked their lives to capture the animal and everyone in between for BOTH administrations. I’ll just quote something I read earlier and then let it go since you seem particularly angry about something. “He breathes, therefore he’s wrong” It was a good quote. It’s always a good idea to practice what you preach.

    • BostonIrish

      graywolf, I think as a leader Obama has been miserable. This particular incident, huge as it is, was inevitable. Obama and the democratic policies have decimated the financial infrastructure of this country. His domestic policies are poorly advised. His foreign policy is worse, if not non-existent. When an incident such as this occurs, it gives the President a boost in the ratings. This is one guy I want nothing less than to go away. Him, Geithner and Bernanke, Pelosi, Reid and Frank. They are what is wrong in our active policies today. Gross negligence on so many levels. My “anger”.

      I wasn’t taking Obama’s decision as negative. He did what was right and just. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. I can’t stand him.

  • mikey

    As the glow from this most remarkable and heroic military operation which lead to the elimination of bin Laden seems to be dimming, what I’ve learned is, as the adage goes ” the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Here comes the resurgence of partisan politics. Sad.

    • graywolf

      Mikey – it’s sad isn’t it. We stood as one – and a well deserved one – for nearly two days and then as Jon stated the splinter groups and their axes materialized. I guess you are right that partisan politics will prevail. Although having read everything here and thought about my own comments I’d prefer to think we had learned exactly what DrStrangelove said in the comment above.

  • BostonIrish

    Mikey, the moonbats are flying! Quick! Grab the net!

  • Willow

    If anyone wants to know how we are as a national culture after a big news event, just check out what goes on in a major disaster like what has happened recently in Alabama. Why do people feel it’s okay to loot in the face of a disaster? We are so divided as a nation politically, and self-serving in that we would steal from those who have suffered great loss. I just don’t get it.

    • graywolf

      Willow you are absolutely correct.

  • mikey

    In respect to the 2012 presidential election, I’m wondering if it really matters who becomes the next president. Is this country too far gone? That’s my question.

  • Willow

    Mikey, interesting question. We are so in debt as a nation that I don’t see how it can ever be paid. In my opinion, a country with so much debt in always in danger of total collapse. I don’t think any one man, president or not, can ever get this country back to what it once was.

  • graywolf

    Jon, I looked for rules for Keller @ Large but couldn’t find them. Are we allowed to discuss topics other than the one you have given? I think Mikey’s question is a good one but want to remain within blog rules. Thanks!

  • eddwal50

    to all you folks defending bush for not appearing at gound zero he should have excepted the invintation we do not honor the person we honor the office bush was hiding because the wrong color person is in the office of the president look at all the negative post about the president not being born in the u.s. or not being able to pass at harvard ect.

  • DrStrangelove

    Eddwal, did you REALLY just throw the race card? Are we really going to have this conversation again? Go to the corner until you recognize it’s a new century/millenium. If I misunderstood and that wasn’t the race card you just threw, please discard and place the correct card on the top of the pile. Go fish.

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