Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Re: Clinton's meltdown

Ok who hasn't seen or heard about Clinton's glorious meltdown on Foxnews last Sunday? It really was fantastic. At the first remotely controversial question Clinton exploded, he turned almost purple with rage, invaded the interviewer's space, and shook his finger (gasp). Honestly he behaved in a manner that wasn't very presidential, which is surprising since he has basically dedicated every day since he left office to making sure that the history books see him as the most presidential of Presidents. His vanity is very well documented, almost as much as his pathological lying.

You can view the video here. But to sumarize, what set him off was when Chris Wallace asked him about acusations that he could have done more to fight terrorism while he was President. Which is a good question, not one that I would want to ask in a finger pointing way. But a question that should be asked in order to fight terrorism better today. Unfortunately President Bush has been blamed over and over for not doing enough to fight terrorism before 9/11. And then of course he has been called a facist for trying to do anything to fight terrorism after 9/11. The fact is that the build up to 9/11 started many years before Dubya even considered running for office, and not looking back at those years is gross negligence.

But back to Clinton. His main point was "Republicans who now say I didn't do enough claim that I was too obsessed with bin Laden, all of President Bush's neocons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden". I think it's safe to assume that he's been wanting to make this point for a long time because he considers it a 'gotcha'. Which of course it isn't, remember he takes things personally, everything is about him. So while Republicans did accuse him of "wagging the dog", they weren't upset that he was "too obsessed", they were angry that he didn't take national security seriously enough and that he would stoop to using military strikes to distract from his personal problems.

The fact is that Republicans were very supportive of efforts to get Bin Laden and to fight terrorism. The American Thinker did a little research and came up with some very interesting findings:
...a thorough LexisNexis search identified absolutely no instances of high-ranking Republicans ever suggesting that Mr. Clinton was obsessed with bin Laden, or did too much to apprehend him prior to the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. Quite the contrary, Republicans were typically highly supportive of Clinton’s efforts in this regard.

As a little background, prior to the August 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, there is hardly any mention of bin Laden by President Clinton in American news transcripts. For the most part, the first real discussion of the terrorist leader by the former president – or by any U.S. politicians or pundits for that matter – began after these bombings, and escalated after the American retaliation in Afghanistan a few weeks later.

At the time, the former president was knee-deep in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, so much so that the press was abuzz with the possibility that Clinton had performed these attacks to distract the American people from his extracurricular activities much as in the movie Wag the Dog.

Were there high-ranking Republicans that piled on this assertion? Hardly. As the Associated Press reported on the day of the attacks, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) said the following on August 20, 1998:

Well, I think the United States did exactly the right thing. We cannot allow a terrorist group to attack American embassies and do nothing. And I think we have to recognize that we are now committed to engaging this organization and breaking it apart and doing whatever we have to to suppress it, because we cannot afford to have people who think that they can kill Americans without any consequence. So this was the right thing to do. [emphasis added]

Gingrich was not alone in his support. CNN’s Candy Crowley reported on August 21, 1998, the day after cruise missiles were sent into Afghanistan:

With law makers scattered to the four winds on August vacation, congressional offices revved up the faxes. From the Senate majority leader [Trent Lott], “Despite the current controversy, this Congress will vigorously support the president in full defense of America’s interests throughout the world.” [emphasis added]

Crowley continued:

The United States political leadership always has and always will stand united in the face of international terrorism,” said the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [Jesse Helms]. [emphasis added]

It was vintage rally around the flag, just as they did for Ronald Reagan when he bombed Libya, for George Bush when he sent armed forces to the Gulf.
As a side note I would like to see some Democrats rallying around the flag, that's be nice. Hey I can dream can't I?

Anyway as you can see Republicans supported all efforts to fight terrorism and put their country first. Read the whole American Thinker piece, it's a good one.

Now during the rest of the interview Clinton referenced Richard Clarke as a bipartisan source, having worked for both Republicans and Democrats, in trying to prove that he was tough on terrorism. One interesting thing to note is that he didn't reference the 9/11 Commission report, which is a bipartisan source, but also states that Bush and company were not negligent in fighting terror before 9/11 and also that they did not cherry-pick intelligence before going in to Iraq.

But back to Richard Clarke and his book. Byron York looks at the claim that Clarke's book shows that Clinton did everything he could to catch Bin Laden:
But Clarke’s book does not, in fact, support Clinton’s claim. Judging by Clarke’s sympathetic account — as well as by the sympathetic accounts of other former Clinton aides like Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon — it’s not quite accurate to say that Clinton tried to kill bin Laden. Rather, he tried to convince — as opposed to, say, order — U.S. military and intelligence agencies to kill bin Laden. And when, on a number of occasions, those agencies refused to act, Clinton, the commander-in-chief, gave up.
Examples are all over Clarke’s book. On page 223, Clarke describes a meeting, in late 2000, of the National Security Council “principals” — among them, the heads of the CIA, the FBI, the Attorney General, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the secretaries of State, Defense. It was just after al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole. But neither the FBI nor the CIA would say that al Qaeda was behind the bombing, and there was little support for a retaliatory strike. Clarke quotes Mike Sheehan, a State Department official, saying in frustration, “What’s it going to take, Dick? Who the shit do they think attacked the Cole, fuckin’ Martians? The Pentagon brass won’t let Delta go get bin Laden. Hell they won’t even let the Air Force carpet bomb the place. Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?”

That came later. But in October 2000, what would it have taken? A decisive presidential order — which never came.
But the bottom line is that Bill Clinton, the commander-in-chief, could not find the will to order the military into action against al Qaeda, and Bill Clinton, the head of the executive branch, could not find the will to order the CIA and FBI to act. No matter what the former president says on Fox, or anywhere else, that is his legacy in the war on terror.
Wow he sounds like a paper tiger almost.

I predict that this will not help the Democrats in any way during the coming election. He seemed like a whiny little boy that was being accused of stealing a cookie. And he indeed reacted like a little boy, by lying.

I also want to point out that our President, and people in his administration have never reacted in this way. And they have had to face much more sinister questions from more hostile reporters. I mean can you imagine what the uproar would be like if Dubya reacted this way to even a silly question such as: "some people say that you don't do enough to support the feminist movement, so tell me why do you hate women?". Clinton reacted very very poorly to a question that was twice as legitimate.

Dick Morris says that this is the Clinton that he and people who worked for him know.

Linked to Basil's Blog, Jo's Cafe and Stuck On Stupid.

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