To the Edge and Maybe Over: An Alternate 21st Century

Part 1
So this is an idea I've had in my head for a while and posted parts of in the alternate wikibox thread. I suck at consistent posting schedules, but I'll try to keep updates pretty frequent

Part 1
“I want to finally get something done on Social Security. I want younger workers to be able to manage some of their own money, some of their own payroll taxes in the private sector under certain guidelines to get a better rate of return on your own money.”

-Texas Governor George W. Bush in his closing statement during the October 4th Presidential Debate, 2000

“One important way of looking at this is to ask, who are you going to fight for? Throughout my career in public service, I have fought for the working men and women of this country, middle-class families, senior citizens. Why? Because you are the ones who have the hardest time paying taxes, the hardest time making ends meet. You are the ones who are making car payments and mortgage payments and doing right by your kids. And a lot of times there are powerful forces arrayed against you. And make no mistake about it, they do have undue influence in Washington, D.C., and it makes a difference if you have a president who will fight for you. I am prepared to do that even when Governor Bush is not.”

-Vice President Al Gore in his closing statement during the October 4th Presidential Debate, 2000

“I have the utmost respect for Vice President Cheney’s service to the country, but I fundamentally disagree with a lot of what he has proposed we do.”

-Senator Joe Lieberman in the Vice Presidential Debate, October 5th, 2000

POLLS SHOW TIGHT RACE-GORE LEADS 46-44-2 IN FLORIDA

-Headline of The Washington Post, October 12th, 2000

NADER TAKES FALL AT RALLY IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN-CAMPAIGN EVENTS PUT ON HIATUS

-Headline in The New York Post, October 13th, 2000

“I wish Nader a speedy recovery from his injuries. While we may be opponents, I do believe his heart is in the right place and we share quite a few major concerns surrounding global warming and environmental degradation.”

-Vice President Al Gore in response to being asked about Green Party nominee Ralph Nader’s recent hospitalization, October 15th, 2000

“Vice President Gore is a good man, but he is wrongheaded about much issues impacting the country. He doesn’t have a strateger-strategy, aha-to deal with the rise of China and that is going to be the biggest issue of the new millennium.”

-Governor George W. Bush at a campaign event in Miami, October 20th, 2000

“George needs to stop fumbling when he speaks so much. I’m not going to lie, I wish Jeb was the nominee instead.”

-Leaked audio of former Secretary of Defense and 2000 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Dick Cheney, taken October 22nd, 2000

“Exit polls in Florida appear to indicate that Vice President Al Gore will carry the state, with 25 electoral votes. However, as of this time, the state remains too close to call and, if the percentages are correct, will be within the margin needed to trigger a recount.”

-CNN host Wolf Blitzer commenting on exit polls taken on Election Day, November 7th, 2000

GORE TAKES THE LEAD IN FLORIDA, BUSH REFUSES TO CONCEDE

-Headline of The New York Times, November 8th, 2000

RECOUNT BEGINS IN FLORIDA-GORE HOLDS SLIM LEAD OF 238 VOTES

-Headline of The Wall Street Journal, November 9th, 2000

“You know, when we named our election coverage“Indecision 2000,” we didn’t plan on that being taken literally.”

-The Daily Show host Jon Stewart in response to the ongoing Florida recount, November 9th, 2000

RECOUNT UPHOLDS GORE’S VICTORY-MARGIN OF VICTORY INCREASES TO 442 VOTES.

-Headline of The Washington Post, November 11th, 2000

“I would like to congratulate Vice President Gore on his victory in the presidential election. While obviously not the outcome I preferred, I want us all to support the Vice President as he enters the White House. I know he wants what’s best for the country and hope he will pursue the kind of responsible policies that will keep it going strong.”

-Governor George W. Bush’s concession speech, November 11th, 2000

“I would like to thank Governor Bush for running a hard-fought race. I hope to build on the legacy of President Clinton and make an America that works for all of us. Rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, all should be able to enjoy the promise of America. That means working to pay off our national debt while defending Social Security and Medicare. That means investing in promising new technologies and programs to benefit our communities. That means taking meaningful action to prevent climate change from wreaking havoc on our planet. I thank you for your support and hope I can live up to these goals.”

-President-Elect Al Gore in his victory speech, November 11th, 2000

“Honestly, given the benefit of hindsight, my defeat was a blessing is disguise. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve handled the events that occurred afterwards. The 2000 election defeat allowed me to embark on a rather different journey that I can honestly say I have cherished greatly.”

-Former Commissioner of Baseball George W. Bush, in an ESPN interview just after his retirement, 2016

“The day Al Gore officially became the president-elect was one of the happiest days of my life. I was hopeful that Al and I could do great things for the country. He was committed to a strong foreign policy, fiscal responsibility, environmentalism and public service—all priorities I deeply shared. I think we made a good team—and of course in the back of my mind, I did consider the likelihood that if he was as successful as I thought he would be, I might one day make it to the Oval Office myself. And as it happens, I did—it just happened in the way I least wanted it to.


But at the time, things for me were all smiles. Right after that speech, Al gave me a call. He told me “I want you to know that I couldn’t have won this without you. And you are going to play a big role in my administration.” He meant it too. John Nance Garner once described the Vice Presidency as worthless (albeit in more colorful language). Al made it very clear I wouldn’t be worthless in his administration. And I remain grateful for that to this day.”

-Former President Joe Lieberman in his autobiography An Amazing Adventure, published in 2014

2019-09-01_LI.jpg
 
Part 2
Part 2
“This administration is committed to maintaining the economic policies that have guaranteed national prosperity for the past eight years. We have shown it is possible to maintain fiscal discipline without sacrificing our security needs or the public welfare and we will continue to do so in the coming term.”

-Economist Paul Krugman, designated Chief Economic Advisor, in an interview with CNN, November 20th, 2000

“I am honored to be nominated for this position. It is of the utmost importance that we maintain a strong defense against all threats. As we enter the new millennium, we face new threats, up to and including nuclear terrorism. I intend to work closely with fellow members of this administration, as well as our friends and allies overseas, to be prepared to address and mitigate these threats.”

-George Senator Sam Nunn in response to being nominated for the position of Secretary of Defense by President-Elect Gore, December 2nd, 2000

“Al won a hard-fought election and has shown he has what it takes to lead the country. I look forward to assisting him during this transition period.”

-President Bill Clinton, December 7th, 2000

ELECTORAL COLLEGE CERTIFIES RESULTS-GOP ELECTOR IN ALABAMA CASTS VOTE FOR BUCHANAN

-Headline of The New York Times, December 18th, 2000

“Well, it’s early to think about, but I can’t rule anything out out.”

-First Lady Hillary Clinton in response to rumors she is planning to run for Mayor of New York, December 19th, 2000

“I don’t see myself running for higher office until I have finished fulfilling my duty to the people of Florida…then again, a lot can happen in four years. Ask me in 2003.”

-Florida Governor Jeb Bush, responding to rumors that Bush campaign advisor Karl Rove has been urging him to begin planning a campaign, December 21st, 2000

“Overall, what we are seeing from the incoming Gore administration is that they largely will be maintaining the Clinton administration’s policies. While Gore did not run promising a ‘third term’ of Clinton, largely owing to the controversies surrounding Clinton’s administration, based on the cabinet selection we can safely assume Gore intends to maintain the center-left policies of his predecessor.”

-Dan Rather on CBS Evening News, December 26th, 2000

GORE ANNOUNCES JESSE JACKSON JR. AS SECRETARY OF EDUCATION-FINAL CABINET PICKS ABOUT TO BE ANNOUNCED

-Headline of The Washington Post, January 2nd, 2001

“We urgently need to devise a strategy to combat the growing Al-Qaeda network. That should begin with a Principals Committee on the matter as soon as possible.”

-Counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke in a memo to National Security Advisor designate Leon Furth, January 19th, 2001

“The American people deserve opportunity as we embark into this new millennium. We owe it to our children to build a world where we can all succeed. A world where we meet our needs without causing environmental damage. A world where we have a balanced budget instead of amassing mountains of debt. I am grateful to have the country’s support as we get to work building this world.”

-President Al Gore in his inaugural address, January 20th, 2001

WHITE HOUSE PUSHES SENATE TO RATIFY KYOTO PROTOCOL DESPITE GOP OBJECTIONS

-Headline of The Wall Street Journal, February 3rd, 2001

“I think things are looking promising. I walked out of the White House feeling pretty good about the chances of reaching a mutually agreeable plan.”

-House Speaker Dennis Hastert after coming out of a meeting with the President to discuss tax reform, February 19th, 2001

“We have enjoyed tremendous economic growth under the Clinton administration and I fully anticipate such growth continuing under President Gore. With the surpluses we have gained from this growth, we can ensure the solvency of Medicare, Medicaid and other crucial programs for generations to come.”

-Treasury Secretary Paul Krugman in an interview on MSNBC, March 19th, 2001

FORMER FIRST LADY HILLARY CLINTON ANNOUNCES NYC MAYORAL BID

-Headline of The New York Times, March 21st, 2001

“We have reason to believe Al Qaeda is planning an attack on US soil sometime in the near future. For this reason it is imperative that all intelligence agencies coordinate as much as possible regarding potential attacks for at least the next year.”

-Memo from the National Security Council to the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, sent March 1st, 2001

GOP HOUSE NARROWLY APPROVE’S GORE’S ‘MEDICARE LOCKBOX’

-Headline of The Washington Post, March 23rd, 2001

“By implementing this policy, we are going to ensure future generations of retirees will have access to healthcare.”

-President Al Gore in a signing statement, March 24th, 2001

BIPARTISAN ‘NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND’ LEGISLATION PASSED BY US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

-Headline of The New York Times, April 16th, 2001

“We will be supporting any legislation that will help our schools enter the 21st century as strong as possible. While there might be a few flaws in this legislation, as of this time, I would like to see it passed.”

-Education Secretary Jesse Jackson, Jr. in an interview on CNN, April 19th, 2001

“The early months of the Gore administration featured a heavy focus on domestic policy. The president’s main focuses were on his initiatives to combatting climate change, forming a deal on taxes with Republicans in Congress, passing overarching education reform and shoring up entitlement programs. He had mixed success on this front—he managed to barely ratify the Kyoto Protocol and was able to implement his lockbox plan for Medicare solvency, but the passage of No Child Left Behind proved to be far more difficult and the attempt at bipartisan tax reform quickly became mired in gridlock despite initial optimism. Nevertheless, the Gore administration would enter summer optimistic about the overall trajectory of the administration.


Some critics argue that Gore, in these early months, largely ignored foreign policy. These claims are largely without merit. President Gore would go on a state visit to the United Kingdom in April of 2001, meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was during this visit the Hainan Island incident would occur, prompting a temporary diplomatic rift with China that would take several weeks to resolve, but ultimately ended in a mutually satisfactory manner. And of course, US intelligence agencies first received hints of the activities of foreign terrorist networks in this time.

Obviously, had they known what exactly was on the horizon, perhaps the Gore administration would have emphasized counterterrorism protocols to a greater extent, but from what signs were available at the time, the continued focus on a domestic agenda was a logical step given the presumption that US intelligence would be able to manage any impending threats. As it happens, this belief was tragically misplaced.”

-Excerpt from Courage to Change: The Presidency of Al Gore written by Matthew Beckmann, 2017

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A Gradual Sucking Sound
Al Gore/Joe Lieberman 2001 (Killed on 9/11)

2000: Def. George W. Bush/Dick Cheney, Donald Trump/Jesse Ventura
Joe Lieberman/John McCain 2001-2005
John Edwards/Howard Dean 2005-2009

2004: Def. Rudy Giuliani/Mike Huckabee, Jesse Ventura/Mike Gravel, Joe Lieberman/John McCain
Chuck Hagel/Scott Walker 2009-2011 (Assassinated)
2008: Def. John Edwards/Howard Dean, Ron Paul/Angus King
Scott Walker/Rick Santorum 2011-2017
2012: Def. Deval Patrick/Evan Bayh, Bernie Sanders/Ben Carson
Kirstin Gillibrand/Brian Schweitzer 2017-2025
2016: Def. Jon Huntsman/Dennis Kucinich, Rick Santorum/Liz Cheney
2020: Def. Josh Hawley/Ro Khanna, Paul Ryan/Nikki Haley
Mike Lee/Tulsi Gabbard 2025-
2024: Def. Cory Booker/Pete Buttigieg, Tom Cotton/Greg Abbott
I found spoilers
 

Milo

Donor
Stick around and you'll find out.



That actually isn't what's going to happen here-I made multiple alternate presidents lists based on roughly the same premise, but this timeline is going to go in a slightly different direction (namely no Reform Party).



Any particular reason?
TL with Mike Lee and Scott Walker being President
 
Interesting timeline, wondering where you're gonna take it. I too am certainly feeling a sense of foreboding as Auricom put it. Watched.
 
I get the feeling that even with what seems to be more eyes on attacks on the US that 911 will still happen and that like Bush, Al Gone's time in power will be more warlike then anything else. Maybe he acts sooner and grounds all planes making it clear who is attacking and who isn't.

I'm still unsure how I feel about this but will keep an eye on it. Watched but unsure.
 
Part 3
Part 3
“Reflecting back on my tenure as Vice President is in many ways a surreal experience. Remembering the debates we were having at the time seems so small and insignificant compared to what was to come.


Of course, at the time, they seemed to be all that mattered in the world. At this time, Al was beginning to get frustrated with the GOP as were many of the others in the administration. It got to the point where I basically had to act as a diplomatic envoy between the White House and the Congressional Republicans. And I do think I helped in some respects—we managed to get No Child Left Behind passed through both houses after all. But we still struggled on other fronts—Al wanted more technology and science investment, Dennis did not. The GOP was skeptical of the proposed NATO peacekeeping mission to Macedonia, we were all for it. The Republicans’ continued opposition to Al’s tax proposals was causing major gridlock.


Incidentally, it was due to my role in attempting to shepherd this proposal through Congress that I ended up taking on the role history will remember me the most for. Al had a meeting with the NSC, Sam and Richard. However, since we were still trying to work out tax policy with the GOP, he asked that I go visit Dennis to discuss the issue. I of course agreed.


As it happens, my meeting was cut short. Half an hour in, the Secret Service told me that we had to leave and be taken to a secure location. I didn’t find out why until later.”

-Former President Joe Lieberman in his autobiography An Amazing Adventure, published 2014

BREAKING: PLANE CRASHES IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA—NO WORD ON CASUALTIES

-Headline in AP, September 11th, 2001

“I thought it seemed to be flying low and the next thing I know is it smacked right into the center of the World Trade Center. There was a big flash of light and—it almost looks like it went right through it. It looks like s—hold on, people are running! It’s exploding right now! People are running up the street!”

-Winston Mitchell, an eyewitness to the crash into the World Trade Center on CNN on September 11th, 2001

“At this time, we are un—oh my God!”

-NBC commentator Dan Rather reacts to the beginning of the collapse of the first tower of the World Trade Center, September 11th, 2001

FIRST RESPONDERS STRUGGLE TO RESCUE CIVILIANS TRAPPED IN TWIN TOURS AMIDST AIRCRAFT CRASHES

-AP headline, September 11th, 2001

“To this day, people ask how it is possible that we could have let Flight 79 make it to its target. This has been a fixture in some conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks, arguing that we either organized the whole thing to oust Gore or allowed the plane to hit to justify wars overseas. These claims are of course false.

The simple fact is we got unlucky. Once the hijackers had taken over the aircraft, they flew it below our available radar systems and it happened too soon after the first two planes hit their targets. We didn’t yet know the plane that had crashed earlier in Arlington had even been hijacked or that the plane that hit the first tower had hit it deliberately.

Of course, we realized what was going on when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. But by then the President simply did not have enough time to make it to a secure location before Flight 79 hit the White House.”

-Excerpt from an interview with former CIA Director George Tenet, conducted April 18th, 2009

AIRPLANE HITS THE WHITE HOUSE—PRESIDENT FEARED DEAD

-Headline of AP, September 11th, 2001

“I am sure you have all heard of the tragedy that has occurred earlier today. Today, the United States was subject to a cruel, cowardly attack on our citizens and our government. It is my sad duty to inform you all that President Gore is among the many victims of this awful attack.


As of today, I have assumed the office of President of the United States—I took the oath of office once the president’s remains were identified. As we mourn this tragedy, we must come together. To rebuild. To recover. To make sure nothing like this ever happens again.


To those who perpetrated this attack of terror, know that our country’s resolve stands unshaken. We shall find those who did this and hold them to account. That is not a threat, merely a promise.


As a unified nation, we shall hunt down these terrorists wherever they hide or whomever they may be and we shall make sure nobody else will ever be victimized by them again.

God bless you all and God bless America.”

-President Joe Lieberman in his first address to the nation as president from an undisclosed location near Washington DC, September 11th, 2001

“The September 11th terrorist attacks were the deadliest such attacks carried out on US soil. Overall, approximately 3,102 individuals perished in these attacks. Among the victims were multiple high-ranking members of the US government including President Al Gore, Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke and Secretary of Defense Sam Nunn. The attacks left a scar on the nation greater than any event since the Kennedy assassination—perhaps even greater as it too took from us a leader whom had barely even had the chance to begin along with hundreds of other lives.

There were also thousands of injuries related to the attacks, including individuals within the World Trade Center or White House when they were hit, first responders who exposed themselves to dangerous circumstances in an attempt to rescue civilians and, in the case of the attack on the White House, dozens of tourists and Secret Service agents visiting the building.

Many are forced to wonder how the country can recover from the scars of these attacks—or perhaps if it even can.”

-Opening narration from the documentary Remembering 9/11, released on September 11th, 2006


September 11th attacks.png
 
Ahh, I see, so the Pentagon plane is stopped whereas the WH plane gets through. Similar casualty figures to OTL but obviously losing the President and at least a couple of Cabinet members is going to make the country even more deeply wounded.

Extremely unfortunate for Gore et al that despite apparently having slightly better and/or earlier foreknowledge that something was coming (Per that NSC memo), they weren't able to pin anything down any better than our world was.

Although, heh, of course the conspiracy theorists in this timeline are just as sure someone deliberately did or allowed it as ours. I wonder if "Lieberman did 9/11" is a meme mocking them?
 
Not going lie I was hoping he would live and that maybe 911 was worse in another way such as more planes are taken and used as weapons. But sadly it seems he died and the VP is now in power. My guess is we would have even tighter airport security than in OTL. Maybe we start viewing any middle easter person as a possible terrorist similar to the red scare of the 1950s.
 
Part 4
Part 4
“I know it can be tempting to give into despair in the aftermath of a tragedy like this. But we must not. Whatever barriers we have put up—they are gone. Even if it’s momentary, we have decided to come
together against the monsters responsible for this attack. Any fool can blow things up. Any fool can kill people—even a lot of people. But you look at us—our police, our firefighters—people across the nation, all coming together to rebuild. That’s extraordinary. That’s light. And that’s proof that we’ve already won.”

-Jon Stewart in his monologue on The Daily Show, September 20th, 2001

RESTRICTIONS ON AIR TRAVEL IMPOSED AFTER SEPTEMBER 11TH ATTACKS RESCINDED

-Headline of The Washington Post, September 22nd, 2001

“I had been friends with Joe for a long time, but I was still rather surprised when he came to me offering a job. But once he made me that offer, I couldn’t say no. We were in the middle of a major crisis and I wanted to do my part to serve the country as I had before.”

Interviewer: Given what eventually occurred, do you ever have any regrets about joining the Lieberman administration?

“None at all. I’m proud of the service I did for this country, even if it’s no longer popular. I still believe, ultimately, we did the right thing.”

-Interview with former Secretary of State John McCain, February 19th, 2010

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK NOMINATED AS REPLACEMENT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

-Headline of The Wall Street Journal, September 29th, 2001

“The hunt for a vice president was one of the more difficult challenges for the nascent Lieberman administration. For a time, he even toyed with naming a Republican as his vice president—Senator John McCain and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani were both considered during this time. However, in the end, Lieberman consulted the shortlist that had been used by the late President Gore to determine his choice. He felt as though he owed it to his predecessor to respect his wishes on that front. He ultimately decided on appointing retired Senator Bob Kerrey as his Vice President. He believed Kerrey’s military experience would be important in the coming months.”

-Excerpt from Phoenix Rising: The Making of the Lieberman Administration, published 2015

“If killing those who kill our sons is terrorism, then we are terrorists. We shall continue this battle until victory or if we meet God should that occur.”

-Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in an unaired interview with Al Jazeera, October 2001

“Communications interceptions and investigations into the hijackers pointed us in the direction of Al Qaeda rather early on the investigation. While it would take several months to conclude definitively, we had a consensus that Al Qaeda was responsible for these attacks by the end of September.”

-Excerpt from an interview with former CIA Director George Tenet, used in the documentary Remembering 9/11, 2006

CONGRESS APPROVES RESOLUTION TO LAUNCH MILITARY INTERVENTION IN AFGHANISTAN FOLLOWING FAILURE OF TALIBAN REGIME TO HAND BIN LADEN OVER INTO US CUSTODY

US MILITARY FORCES ARRIVE IN AFGHANISTAN, BEGIN CLASHING WITH TALIBAN FORCES

MUHAMMED MOHAQIQ INSTALLED AS LEADER OF AFGHANI INTERIM GOVERNMENT PENDING NEW ELECTIONS

UN AUTHORIZES FORMATION OF TASK FORCE TO TRAIN SOLDIERS FOR NEW US-BACKED GOVERNMENT IN KABUL

-Headlines of The Washington Post, October-December 2001

“We will support our allies across the Atlantic in this endeavor. Terror has no place in the modern world.”

-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, October 12th, 2001

“The initial US military invasion of Afghanistan cannot be described as anything other than a complete success. US forces successfully were able to capture the Afghani capital of Kabul and install a temporary government. While Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents remained a problem and Osama Bin Laden remained uncaptured, this initial phase of the War on Terror went remarkably well. It is little wonder that President Lieberman’s approval ratings, going into 2002, were at a high of 87%, a record that is unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon even if President Bush did enjoy higher approval after the Gulf War.

Unfortunately, this rosy picture would not last for long. The insurgency in Afghanistan would drag on far longer than anyone expected. While Lieberman would be the man to start the war, he would not be the one to end it—partially due to the obstacles of the act of occupying Afghanistan in and of themselves, partially as a result of his own missteps over the remainder of his presidency.”

-Excerpt from Graveyard of Empires: A Military History of Afghanistan, published in 2012

McCain SOS.jpg
 
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Ahh, I see, so the Pentagon plane is stopped whereas the WH plane gets through. Similar casualty figures to OTL but obviously losing the President and at least a couple of Cabinet members is going to make the country even more deeply wounded.

Extremely unfortunate for Gore et al that despite apparently having slightly better and/or earlier foreknowledge that something was coming (Per that NSC memo), they weren't able to pin anything down any better than our world was.

Although, heh, of course the conspiracy theorists in this timeline are just as sure someone deliberately did or allowed it as ours. I wonder if "Lieberman did 9/11" is a meme mocking them?

Yep, they happened to be VERY unlucky. While I didn't state it outright, the actual meeting Gore and his advisors were in on 9/11 was about the potential threat of a terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda.

And indeed, that would be a common meme. I also will say 9/11 conspiracy theories are a lot uglier in terms of connotation in this timeline, as the 'Lieberman did 9/11' and 'Israel did 9/11' overlap quite heavily in this timeline due to Lieberman being Jewish.

Not going lie I was hoping he would live and that maybe 911 was worse in another way such as more planes are taken and used as weapons. But sadly it seems he died and the VP is now in power. My guess is we would have even tighter airport security than in OTL. Maybe we start viewing any middle easter person as a possible terrorist similar to the red scare of the 1950s.

There will be sizeable consequences for airport security and the US Muslim population, that much I can tell you.

That's not a good sign at all

Indeed it is not. If you thought our world's War on Terror was a mess...this one will be worse.
 
Loving it. Particularly intrigued by what the 21st century has in store for the world. Subscribed!

Glad to have you following! And there shall be quite a bit we're in for here-I have overall events mapped out up until the 2008 presidential election and some inkling of what to do afterwards.
 
Part 5
Part 5

“I know the loss of Al had hit the country hard, but it hit Tipper even harder. She had happened to be doing a speech in Baltimore at the time of the attacks and she did not learn what had befallen her husband until several hours later. Something changed in her after that day—she was skeptical of the idea of becoming politically involved, she worried it’d look like she was following in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps a bit too nicely, but after Al died, she became a lot more open to the notion of running for Senate in Tennessee.”

-Former President Joe Lieberman in his autobiography An Amazing Adventure, published 2014

CONGRESS APPROVES $500 MILLION IN FUNDS TO REBUILD WHITE HOUSE

US FORCES CAPTURE KABUL FROM TALIBAN FORCES

BILL AUTHORIZING CREATION OF US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY PASSES HOUSE 401-4

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS AND CONGRESSMAN INTRODUCE LEGISLATION BROADENING GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE POWERS

HOUSE VOTES TO PASS PUBLIC SAFETY AND COMBATTING TERRORISM ACT BY OVERWHELMING 390-33 VOTE

SENATE PASSES NEAR-COPY OF HOUSE LEGISLATION BY 98-2 MARGIN

-Headlines of The Washington Post, October 2001-May 2002

“We are facing an enemy unlike any we have dealt with before. The enemy is not a country. The enemy is terror. We must not give in to the threats of terror and, whatever it takes, we must ensure there never is another 9/11. We will wage a war on terrorism itself and we shall triumph over it.”

-President Joe Lieberman in a speech before Congress, February 13, 2002

“I could understand the reasoning behind voting for the PSCT and was tempted to do so myself. 9/11 was perhaps the greatest single tragedy to befall the United States in its entire history and we had the need to make sure nothing like it ever occurred again. Still, in the end, it was an unconstitutional piece of legislation and I could not in good conscience support it. It may have cost me my job, but I don’t regret it.”

-Former US Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) in an interview shortly after leaving office, May 3, 2003

SENATOR FEINSTEIN NOMINATED TO SERVE AS FIRST SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY

DAVIS APPOINTS SF CONGRESSWOMAN NANCY PELOSI TO REPLACE FEINSTEIN IN SENATE

-Headline in The Hill, June 2, 2002

“Going into the midterms, I was rather concerned. Traditionally, the opposition party would see a boost in a president’s first midterm elections—but this was not normal circumstances. President Lieberman’s approval was just below Bush’s in the aftermath of the Gulf War and it’d stay high even after the initial peak had passed. Even though Speaker Hastert had fully cooperated with Lieberman’s White House and our party in the Senate essentially voted to hand the Democrats the majority again by confirming Kerrey as veep, we were still down by a good margin. Needless to say, we had to trim the fat to keep afloat, so when Steve King began spouting about how Gore’s immigration stances invited 9/11—obviously we cut him off. We did that for anyone who could make the party look bad in November and it prevented us from being obliterated.”

-Former RNC Chairman Marc Racicot in an interview, January 2004

“The US intelligence community has recently uncovered evidence indicating that the government of Iraq has been illegally attempting to create WMDs. Additionally, we have reason to believe that Iraq’s government is providing support to Al-Qaeda. While these findings are not yet conclusive, should we yield further evidence on this front, we shall seek Congressional approval to act against Iraq.”

-Secretary of State John McCain in a press conference, June 4, 2002

“Despite our differences, our party’s members stand firmly with the administration in issuing these warnings to Saddam Hussein.”

-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, June 5, 2002

MCCAIN CLAIMS RE: WMDS COUNTERED BY IAEA

POLLS SHOW 77% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IRAQ TO HAVE TIES TO 9/11 HIJACKERS, 69% FAVOR MILITARY ACTION

CONGRESS PASSES AUTHORIZATION FOR MILITARY ACTION BY WIDE MARGIN

-Headlines in The Wall Street Journal, June-September 2002

“I just voted to lose in November.”

“Well, we have that in common if nothing else. Let’s just hope we at least did the right thing even if it is unpopular.”

-Exchange between Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone (D) and Tennessee Congressman John Duncan (R), September 8, 2002

POLLS SHOW TIGHT RACE IN NUMEROUS STATES—CONTROL OF SENATE HANGS IN THE BALANCE

APPROVAL RATINGS FOR PRESIDENT LIEBERMAN SETTLE AT 61%

TRUCK BOMB IN KABUL KILLS 3 US TROOPS, 18 AFGHANS

LIEBERMAN VOWS THAT ‘OSAMA’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED’

-Headlines in the Washington Post, September-November 2002

“And with 90% of precincts reporting, we can project that former First Lady Tipper Gore has emerged victorious in Tennessee. The widow of the late President Gore was neck-and-neck with her Republican opponent going into the election, but we can project she has overperformed polls by about two percentage points.”

-Judy Woodruff on Election Night, 2002

DESPITE RECOUNTS, COLEMAN DECLARED VICTOR OVER WELLSTONE

DEFYING MIDTERM TRENDS, DEMOCRATS GAIN SEATS IN HOUSE AND SENATE AMIDST POPULAR SUPPORT FOR LIEBERMAN

US MILITARY FORCES BEGINNING TRAINING EXERCISES FOR INVASION OF IRAQ, PENTAGON SOURCES SAY

-Headlines in The Hill, November 2002

“The period from September 2001 to January 2003 was undoubtedly the high-water mark of the Lieberman administration. During this time, his administration passed quite a bit of bipartisan counterterrorism legislation, got funding to rebuild the White House (though it would not be fully rebuilt until 2004) and began the Afghanistan War. It is little wonder that as of January 2003, Lieberman’s approval still topped 60% in some polls.

However, it was the fixation on Iraq that would prove to spark the beginning of the challenges for the Lieberman administration. The evidence Lieberman, McCain and Tenet presented as indisputable proof was not as firm as they led the country to believe. The claim that the US leaders lied due to a preexisting desire to go to war with Iraq seems to be misplaced—records from the Lieberman White House indicate that the key figures on national security issues did believe Iraq was violating international agreements. Nevertheless, many other nations proved skeptical, which is why many US allies such as France did not support the drive to war.

Additionally, the war opened up rifts domestically. Many of the ‘no’ votes on action in Iraq in Congress were from progressive members of the Democratic Party. Many left-wing individuals in the party base were skeptical of the grounds for war with Iraq. Meanwhile, on the right, the drive for war was opposed by libertarians and paleoconservatives, many of whom had been willing to accept the Afghanistan invasion as just retaliation for the attack. For now, however, this opposition was limited to the fringes of the political spectrum and most of the country was firmly behind Lieberman.”

-Excerpt from the book The Road to Baghdad by Andrew Bacevich, published 2018

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