George W. Bush's swipe at domestic extremism: Who was he talking about?

George W. Bush appeared at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Saturday to honor those who died on 9/11. It was an interesting speech, but not necessarily in a good way. He told the veterans of America’s long wars that their sacrifices weren’t in vain, an obviously false statement now that Biden has given Afghanistan itself and U.S. hi-tech weapons valued at $83B to the Taliban. More provocatively, Bush said that Islamic violent extremists are the same as domestic violent extremists when it comes to their “disregard of human life.” The big question is whether Bush was referring to Antifa and BLM or to the January 6 protesters—and, interestingly, everybody assumes he was speaking about the latter.

To Bush’s credit, after the Islamist attack on the Twin Towers, he handled the immediate aftermath with dignity and fortitude. He was also correct to want to bring the war to those who attacked us.

After that, though, Bush was wrong in so many ways. I’ll refrain from blaming him for the fake intelligence about Iraq’s WMDs or the Pakistan-related realpolitik that seems to have prevented anyone from delivering a death blow to the Taliban.

Bush, however, was wrong to believe that we could democratize Muslim countries through warfare. He misunderstood the examples of Nazi Germany and Bushido Japan. In those cases, we completely flattened the countries as a predicate to rebuilding them in a more democratic mode and we stuck around for more than seven decades. Additionally, both those countries were modern nations when the war began, making rebuilding easier.

At home, Bush’s “compassionate conservativism” too often veered into Democrat-lite policies, but he did try—and, like Trump, he was the victim of an irredeemably hostile media that convinced many Americans that he was a failure at everything. The most memorable example was Hurricane Katrina, to which Bush responded very well, but the media insisted his response was a disaster. (Meanwhile, the media are completely silent about Biden’s abandonment of those in Louisiana who just suffered another devastating storm.)

Bush lost significant support from his base after his presidency when he suddenly became besties with the Obamas. On the one hand, it was nicely ecumenical. On the other hand, given that Barack Obama wasn’t just a traditional Democrat but was, instead, attacking America at her foundations, that was an awful lot like sleeping with the enemy.

Things really went downhill, though, when George Bush sided with Hillary in 2016 and Biden in 2020 against Trump. Regardless of his personal feelings about Trump, Bush knew that Hillary was an utterly corrupt hard leftist. He should have taken a stand against his father’s support for her but he didn’t. Moreover, by 2020, he knew that Trump had governed as a true conservative and that Biden was not only as corrupt as Hillary but was also stupid (with an increasing dollop of dementia) but he refused to endorse Trump, thereby tacitly endorsing Biden.

With that history of backing his leftist Deep State buddies over America, we saw George W. Bush was a Deep State, Vichy Republican. It’s scarcely surprising, then, that when George W. Bush spoke about domestic extremists but didn’t name names everyone assumed he was speaking about a cohort of unarmed, middle-aged and elderly people who, deeply frustrated by a manifestly irregular election (and probably encouraged by leftist provocateurs), did exactly what leftists have always done, and entered the Capitol to complain.

Bush’s exact words were as follows:

There's little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard of human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.

Considering that the January 6 protesters killed no one and destroyed nothing, the words are inapposite to them. They apply perfectly to BLM and Antifa, groups that tore down monuments, looted and torched buildings, brutally attacked law enforcement, and left almost two dozen people dead. But still, most believed Bush gave the back of his hand to Trump supporters. Conservatives believed that:

And the media believed that. The Daily Mail made the same assumption, writing that Bush’s words were “an apparent reference to both the 9/11 hijackers and the January 6 Capitol rioters.” A widely syndicated New York Daily News report had as its lede, “Former President George W. Bush used the occasion of a 9/11 speech to take a thinly-veiled slam at the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and other U.S. political extremists.” USA Today had the same take:

Former President George W. Bush compared domestic and foreign extremists Saturday, seeming to liken the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to the 9/11 hijackers and calling on Americans to confront the growing threats from both groups.

Again, Bush didn’t say a word about which homegrown extremists he meant. But the media can think of only one—because the riots, arson, destruction, and death in 2020 were “mostly peaceful"—while Trump supporters understand that Bush is and was always a creature of the monoparty, permanent governing class. We supported him and he stabbed us in the back. What a pathetic piece of work he turned out to be.

Bonus content—Julie Kelly's Twitter feed gives information about some of the people Bush attacked:

Image: George W. Bush at Shanksville. YouTube screen grab.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

If you experience technical problems, please write to