by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
April 21, 2004
THE KIDS THE PRESIDENT LEFT BEHIND ON SEPT. 11
SARASOTA, Fla., April 21, 2004 -- Nobody has thought very much about the children who got a reading lesson from President George Bush the day Al-Qaeda attacked the United States. But results of Florida's much-despised FCAT statewide third-grade reading tests suggests that the President didn't inspire his students on that day to become better readers.
The school's performance was worse the next year and fell again in 2003, when 40 percent of third graders at Booker Elementary School in Sarasota - once one of the wealthiest cities in America - failed the reading test. "Only" 37 percent failed in 2002, six months after the President's visit.
Like the president, these children don't read newspapers - because they can't. Let's hope they don't read books like "Plan of Attack," by Bob Woodward, or "Against All Enemies," by Richard Clarke, or the Aug. 6 memo on Al-Qaeda's plans to attack the United States that appears to have gone unread as the President went jogging and worked out on the morning of Sept. 11.
These were the children George Bush left behind as he soared into the skies on Air Force One on a roundabout 12-hour journey to Washington as America waited to hear him read a statement on the devastating attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. Perhaps the wait was so long because he had to practice his own reading.
We asked the Democratic Party leader on Longboat Key, the wealthy enclave in Sarasota County where the President stayed the night before the attacks at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, what his reaction to this observation was.
"Don't invite him back," replied John Clay, a Harvard Law grad and onetime vice presidential running mate of Sen. Eugene McCarthy in Illinois.
That's good advice for the entire electorate when it chooses a President again on Nov. 2, 2004, we think.
Joe Shea is a John Kerry supporter.