Just Above Sunset
March 28, 2004 - William Clarke testified. He was "mensch," as they say.
I’m sure Fox News
was not happy to report this about Richard Clarke’s testimony this week at the 9-11 hearings.
"My impression was that fighting terrorism in general and fighting Al Qaeda, in particular, was an extraordinarily
high priority in the Clinton administration. Certainly, there was no higher priority,"
said Clarke, who also worked for former President Bill Clinton.
And, well, as for apologies, that's nice to do and all, but I think Senator Frist, the majority leader had something to say about that on behalf of the Bush administration and the Republicans:
In his appearance before the 9-11 Commission, Mr. Clarke's theatrical apology on behalf of the nation was not his right, his privilege or his responsibility. In my view it was not an act of humility, but an act of supreme arrogance and manipulation. Mr Clarke can and will answer for his own conduct but that is all.
Real men don’t apologize, for anything, and Clarke, it seems, won’t get away with trying to shame the Bush team into saying they were wrong about anything. And everyone knows Bill Clinton is the cause of all this evil and all these dead folks.
And the Bush’s people, led by Andrew Card and that Rice woman, spent the day after all this saying Clarke was a disgruntled and bitter fellow out to make a buck on his book. They didn’t ever say what Clarke was contending wasn’t true. They just kept saying he was an unbalanced kind of negative person.
For one, the Bush White House assumes that everyone who works for them is part of a personal loyalty network, rather than part of the government. And that their first loyalty is to Bush rather than to the people. When you cross that line or violate that trust, they get very upset. That's the first reason. But the second reason is that I think they're trying to bait me -- and people who agree with me -- into talking about all the trivial little things that they are raising, rather than talking about the big issues in the book.
Issues? What issues?
[Question:] The vice president
commented that there was "no great success in dealing with terrorists" during the 1990s, when you were serving under President
Clinton. He asked, "What were they doing?"
Ouch again. The Bush people really don’t want to mess with this guy.
It's tempting to overstate the significance of what many of us watched or heard this afternoon. But it's hard to imagine anybody who followed Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9-11 commission not
being moved by the man's clear and simple statements of what he says is the truth. From
his opening statement of remorse to the families of those who died in the 9-11 attacks, to his blunt descriptions of the Bush
administration's neglect of counter-terrorism, to his brilliant demolition of John Lehman's crassly partisan attempt to tar
him as a partisan, Clarke's performance was a powerful combination of understatement and bravura.
The Yiddish word works here. A mensch will apologize when he’s made a mistake.
I not sure Bush, or many Texans, know that word. Or get the concept. And heck, when you’re president you don’t owe anyone apologies, or even explanations, or anything. "I'm the President of the United States," Bush told a reporter last year. "I don't feel like I have to explain myself to anybody."
Well, I guess that’s so.
Is Bush in trouble now? No, he can still declare marshal law and cancel the election, and proclaim himself President-for-Life. He’d have the army behind him - and at least half of the American people, who want to be safe from the bad guys, whoever they might vaguely be. It could work. Most people would see this as easier and more convenient than all this political stuff. They could just get on with their lives.
Things are coming to a head. It is possible.
No. Not a chance. Really. If Kerry is not assassinated by some enthusiastic Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh fan, which is of course possible given how they and their like stir the pot, we will have an election, and Bush will probably win, fair and square – just like last time.
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