In a Look

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September 11, 2012

Reading someone’s facial expressions is usually a fool’s errand. Mine have been misread many times, often to my detriment. Much has been written about President George W. Bush’s face at the moment he learned of the first 9/11 attack, when terrorists crashed a jetliner into the north tower of the World Trade Center eleven years ago today. Did his look communicate shock, confusion, horror? All seem natural reactions for the leader of a gravely wounded nation. But new information detailing frequent and dire warnings the White House received about Al Qaeda’s plans invites a closer look at Bush’s look. Do we see written on his face a split-second realization that’s horrifying in an altogether different way? I could have prevented this. If so—and there’s no way to know, the former president is surely spending another day in a personal hell where the mirror is the cruelest punishment of all.

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