Former George W. Bush's Bullhorn Speech is one of the most defining and iconic moments in modern American history, the only thing that compares to it is Franklin Roosevelt's Day of Infamy speech. Unfortunately, CNN Newsroom co-host Poppy Harlow tried to use the sense of national unity in the circumstances of Bush's speech on the eighteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to push gun control.
Harlow was joined on Wednesday by Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen and the segment started off well enough, with Harlow asking Van Hollen to reflect on what 9/11 means eighteen years later. Van Hollen gave an equally appropriate answer talking about how he used to represent a district that consisted of many Pentagon workers and how the attacks united the country.
It was then that Harlow tried to transition into contemporary controversies, "Well, we'll all remember that moment when President Bush walked up on that pile of rubble near Ground Zero with that bullhorn and really worked to unite the country and on that point of uniting the country around something, so many Americans, Senator, Democrats, Republicans, independents are calling on Congress to do something on guns."
She then listed a number of policy proposals the White House is considering and asked Van Hollen if they would make a difference. Van Hollen responded by giving the standard Democratic lines about closing "the gun show loophole" and condemning Mitch McConnell for "contracting the Senate’s decisions out to the White House."
When President Bush told the first responders at Ground Zero and the whole world that "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon" he was uniting the country for war, not some partisan domestic cause. Bush's iconic address on September 14, 2001, should stand on its own as an iconic moment in history and not be used by partisan journalists to achieve a partisan end.
Here is a transcript of the September 11 show:
CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto
10:21 AM ET
POPPY HARLOW: Let's begin on what today is. It's the 18-year mark after the 9/11 terror attacks. It feels like yesterday. It's a similar September morning, clear blue sky, crisp morning. We have learned a lot. We have grown a lot as a country since then. What do you think about when you think about today?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, Poppy, like you, it feels like it was just yesterday. I remember being at home when the planes flew into the towers and then shortly after the hit at the Pentagon and I represented at that time a congressional district in Maryland. A lot of employees work at the Pentagon lived in our district: Montgomery County, Maryland rescue operations were sent to support the operations at the Pentagon. So, look, this was a moment where the country came together at a terrible hour. But we were united and again even today, at this moment, the country stand united. We are going to have a moment of silence in the United States Senate within the next few hours.
HARLOW: Well, we'll all remember that moment when President Bush walked up on that pile of rubble near ground zero with that bullhorn and really worked to unite the country and on that point of uniting the country around something, so many Americans, Senator, Democrats, Republicans, independents are calling on Congress to do something on guns. The president says he’s reviewing options. We don’t know specifically what he supports and what he does not. But what we're hearing from sources is improving the national background check system, looking at straw man purchase, funding mental health programs, implementing capital punishment for mass murderers. Overhauling domestic terror law, actually something Adam Schiff proposed. Are any of those things you are backing that you think make a difference?
VAN HOLLEN: Poppy, there are a whole range of options we need to take action on and we really should have taken action long ago on many of these issues. As you indicated on this question of doing something on gun safety and gun reform, the country is united. There was a national poll showing 90% of the American public, all political parties and backgrounds support a common sense universal background check. Right. Let's close the gun show loophole. The West Texas shooter had originally been denied access to firearms because of the normal rules, but then used the loophole, the private sale loophole. We have a bill in the Senate right now that was passed by the House well over 100 days ago that would close that loophole. The country’s overwhelmingly in support of it. Mitch McConnell should not be contracting the Senate’s decisions out to the White House, we’re a separate branch of government, let’s take this up, let’s vote. If McConnell wants to vote no, that’s his choice, but don’t bar the Senate from acting.