Dawdler in chief: The suspicious behavior of George W. Bush during the 9/11 attacks

By Matthew Everett
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 11, 2007, 00:42

“Sandy Kress, Bush’s unpaid education advisor, was puzzled. Bush was always on time. But on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, he seemed to want to linger, talking about politics and mutual friends in Texas.” [1] So wrote Ronald Kessler in his account of the Bush presidency, A Matter of Character. The time in question was around 8:30 a.m., a quarter of an hour after American Airlines Flight 11 had broken communication with air traffic controllers. The 9/11 attacks were now underway. While many odd things took place that morning, Kress’s observation highlights another curious detail: On September 11, 2001, President Bush was running late.

This would be of little significance were it not for the fact that this behavior was completely out of character for the president. Bush is not known for dawdling. For example, earlier in 2001, CNN’s congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl talked of “Bush’s reputation for being punctual.” [2] According to David Frum, a former speechwriter for the president: “Bush is famous for his punctuality.” [3] Sandy Kress has called him “a very punctual person.” [4] According to the Washington Post: “Bush’s staff, his friends, his family, his wife” all describe him as “an intensely disciplined and focused individual,” who “puts a premium on punctuality.” [5] The London Times stated it more bluntly: “There has probably never been a president, there may not have been a human being, who observes punctuality with the sort of fanaticism that President George W. Bush brings to every aspect of his life.” [6] That was not, however, the case the morning of September 11.

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