Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Tuesday Thoughts

Reaction--pro and con--still pouring forth about Clinton’s performance on Fox News, from Dick Morris, Andrew Klavan in the LA Times (is he related to Cliff from Cheers?), and John Dickerson on Slate.com. Consensus seems to be that it was a calculated outburst.

And don’t miss Time magazine today on Why the Democratic Wave Could Be a Washout. Happy Tuesday.

Discussions - 20 Comments

The consensus of the Democratic experts on THE TODAY SHOW is that Clinton had "given the party a backbone (or spine)." The other point is that by energizing the base with the calculated outburst Bill was helping his bride mend fences with the Democratic Left. So it really was crazy like a Fox on Fox. And Bill is always impressive as a campaigner; it probably bad for the Rs if he stays engaged in his pro wrestling mode.

Thing that I couldn’t help but notice was the raging incoherence of Clinton’s comments. Clinton has always had one thing, and that’s articulation, a certain command of the English language. But in that interview, he was so rattled, as to be swerving dangerously into the realm of the rabid. Which inclines me to believe that it wasn’t premeditated

And Peter, those Dems out there defending Clinton by saying it was calculated could be trying to put some lip stick on a pig. The idea that Clinton lost it, violated Wallace’s personal space, and came off as an unserious and delusional former President, wouldn’t really help Hillary’s chances very much in ’08, now would it? For the Dems, far better that it be spun that Clinton was trying to rouse up the troops, than let it become settled fact that Clinton simply lost it, because Wallace finally got in a question that Clinton simply couldn’t dodge, and from what we observed, couldn’t handle.

Clinton’s behavior was eerily similar to the interview with Peter Jennings, where he accused ABC, {owned by Disney} of working against the Democrats, {leaving open the implication that ABC and Jennings were in bed with the political Right}. And his finger wagging was too reminiscent of his Lewinsky statement. IF it WAS staged, if it was premeditated, he didn’t pull it off very well.

Dan- I won’t try to change your mind, but I saw it very differently. While obviously angry, I thought that Clinton was entirely coherent and articulate. I think it is interesting that his "rage" is the part of this that is so important to viewers on the right, as though that is more important than the content of Clinton’s message.

What content?

"Read Richard Clarke’s book! It’s all in Richard Clarke’s book! If only you had looked at Richard Clarke’s book!"

Veeeerrry articulate and intellectual. How could you not be impressed?

Clinton’s a liar...a good lair, but a liar nonetheless. Anyone who believes him is a fool.

Moaner: Here is some:

And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much — same people.

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk down, and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations.

Here is some more:

He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now, but let’s look at the facts: He worked for Ronald Reagan; he was loyal to him. He worked for George H. W. Bush; he was loyal to him. He worked for me, and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him.

They downgraded him and the terrorist operation.

Now, look what he said, read his book and read his factual assertions — not opinions — assertions. He said we took vigorous action after the African embassies. We probably nearly got bin Laden.

Here is some more:

Now, if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: After the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden.

But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9/11.

The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would’ve had to send a few hundred Special Forces in in helicopters and refuel at night.

Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do that. Now, the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too. All I’m asking is, anybody who wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.

WALLACE: Right.

CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.

There is plenty of content, there, if you can get your mind off the big print, and the waving arms at Fox.

Anyone who believes him is a fool.

Right. And what do you call the 50.5% who believed Bush enough to vote for him twice? I mean, even Bush said: "Fool me shame, twice on me, but shame a once, fool me you."

You believed him when he said that we would be welcomed in Iraq, when he said we knew where the WMD’s were, when he said that he would take care of whoever leaked Valerie Plam, when he said that the mission was accomplished, when he said that Gore’s budget was "fuzzy math," when he said that he would improve education, when he suggested that "no child left behind" was something more sophisticated than "every child left behind," when he said that his administration would work towards bipartisanship, and compassion, and when he said "I trust the American People" (as far as I can spy on them).

Who trusted him when he screamed about never entering another country without a clear exit strategy?

You go ahead and trust your guy, and feel smart. I have a case of champagne waiting for 2008.

Clinton’s a liar...a good lair, but a liar nonetheless. Anyone who believes him is a fool. Comment 6 by dain

The following quotes are all courtesy of Fung, comment 7:

And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. (I never heard a conservative Republican, conservative non-Republican or Republican non-conservative make the specific comment that Clinton was too obsessed with bin Laden. Can anyone help Fung out here and direct us to such a claim? Or is dain right that Clinton is a liar?)

They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. (But Bush was getting the message elsewhere. As Clarke admits, CIA Director George Tenet was fully aware of the al Qaeda threat. Unlike Clinton, Bush received a morning briefing in person from the CIA director every day. Was Clinton lying about that or just mistaken? Fox reports, Fung decides.)

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk down, and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations. (I’m aware of Murtha demanding that we get out of Somalia. Anyone else aware of Republicans or other conservatives making that same demand?)

They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. (Another Clinton lie or another Clinton mistake? Clarke suggested a "laundry-list of ideas, many of which had been rejected in the Clinton administration since 1998." The Bush administration implemented a few of these ideas, such as increasing antiterror activities to Uzbekistan. But Bush wanted more. Clarke himself reports that Bush expressed frustration with "swatting flies," and wanted to eliminate al Qaeda altogether. A long-term strategy to do that was forged and passed on to the president prior to Sept. 11.)

The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible while I was there. (President of the United States of America, William Jefferson Clinton was the dawg. According to him, he let the tail, the CIA and the FBI, wag him. Did he convince anyone, besides Fung, that he needed certification from the FBI or CIA to attack the head of the organization which committed the act of war against the U.S.S. Cole?)

I would’ve had to send a few hundred Special Forces in in helicopters and refuel at night. (Not true. A lie? Or did Clinton forget? Gary Berntsen, one of the CIA’s most decorated officers, was in Afghanistan during Clinton’s administration. His job was to arrest bin Laden. In 2000, Berntsen had led a promising effort to work with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance "to capture a bin Laden lieutenant." But the operation was called off, for which he blasts CIA Director George Tenet and President Clinton for lacking "the will to wage a real fight against terrorists who were killing U.S. citizens." see "Jawbreaker.")

Calculated? Probably. Clinton is certainly capable of it. And given that the question was calculated to throw him off balance (happening in the portion of the interview specifically designed to not have that question) you could say that the whole thing was more chess match than interview.
Everybody got what they wanted out of this event - Democrats say they have finally acquired a spine, Republicans say that Clinton is a raving loony.

Clinton can’t handle serious criticism on an issue that goes to the bone. It was a natural reaction, but Clinton’s natural reactions are often politically
helpful. In other words, he did this (which he wanted to anyway) because it would rally the base and would probably intimidate others in the "mainstream" media. He is probably right on both counts.

When I watch the interview, I don’t see a man losing control. Instead, I see a man who can move people in the act of doing so. I think Fung is right. He was articulate and coherent, and... he was (mostly) right. It’s silly to act as if the right in the Clinton years didn’t criticize his action in Somalia and Kosovo. Remember Newt and Co. and ’how action abroad for utilitarian causes smacks of liberalism and big government?’ What’s wrong with just admitting on both sides that 9/11 forcefully caused Americans to reconsider its foreign policy approach to terrorism.

This blame-game argument has always struck as silly and ineffective (b/c people don’t buy it). If it would have been a South American terrorist drug lord (which were the terrorist groups we most feared at the time of the Clinton Administration, in addition to bin Laden, but certainly not including jihad and extermist Islam) that struck in the heart of America, the argument would be completely different in terms of the right and wrong priorities at the time. Hindsight is ideal for useless mudslinging.

Also, I thought Clinton’s actions were pretty manly. Being coherent and articulate, he was not raving, and therefore not acting imprudently (time will tell). His assertions were strong, forthright, and clear. With the exception of the excuse about needing basing rights in Uzbekistan (which severely injures the manliness of his actions), everything he did and said struck me as independently secure, confident, and convincing (manly). What’s not manly is using the phrase "invaded Wallace’s personal space" and Republicans trying to call maniacal a measured act that will draw greater support for the other side (in the process only strengthening a surging Democratic party).

Moaner -- See what Uncle Guido has done? He has read the content of someone’s message, and reacted to it.

See what Fred has done? He has transcended us-or-them thinking, and has thoughtfully addressed the overlying issues.

Now, it is 11:40, and I am too tired to take the ball!!

Just exactly how will this make the Democrats stronger?

The Democrats, per Rangel, are itchin’ to get out of Iraq, draw down the War on Terror in general, and, possibly, institute a draft to, in effect, make the military into a very large peace corp?

How is that helpful?

Clinton grandstanded and didn’t get the basics straight, which is something for supposedly this man knew policy and figures of the government inside and out, and, yet, during this interview, he couldn’t get them correct and had to instead say that Wallace should read Clarke’s book, which, in truth, didn’t support Clinton’s assertion.

Clinton is miffed that his legacy is, again, being tarnished, and all he has to blame is himself.

By the way, Fred didn’t transcend anyone.

And, if Fred is correct that Clinton’s administration feared some non-descript South American drug lord over a group who publicly declared war on us and carried out successful operations in that regard, then Clinton is even more at fault than has been suggested to date and extremely damnable in my opinion!

Lots of interesting comments--but I agree with Daniel K and David Frisk. For what it’s worth, and these results are based on polls taken before Clinton, the Reps. senate cnadidates in PA, OH, NJ, and MD are seem to have lost ground. PA seems out of reach again, and MD is now a big D lead. And Allen now stands accused of racial slurs he uttered around thirty years ago!

"And Allen now stands accused of racial slurs he uttered around thirty years ago! "
And the one he made last month.

I have seen many, many witnesses for the defense and more than a few witnesses for the prosecution, over the past 24 years, melt down on the witness stand. I have seen many, many attorneys try to put positive spins on their witnesses’ melt downs. True supporters are "energized" by the spin, true opponents are "energized" by the melt down. Objective observers, such as jurors, are simply taken aback by the melt down and are not the least bit convinced by the spin. I am a true opponent of BJC (I know that comes as a big surprise, pick your jaws up off the floor). I saw snippets of BJC’s melt down on the internet last Friday and Saturday. I saw allot of recommendations from Clinton opponents to watch it. I didn’t see or hear a single recommendation from a Clinton supporter to watch it. What does that tell you? That tells me that all this talk about it being pre-planned is just an after-the-fact effort at damage control.

Admittedly, Democrats have pre-planned several schemes this past year that have blown up in their faces, "We killed the Patriot Act" attacks, NSA attacks, Swift Bank attacks, "Alioto" attacks, to name but a few. Admittedly, to have failed to see, before they launched the schemes, that they would blow up in their faces was...feckless...shall we say? But to have pre-planned BJC to say "Ah trod and faiyelled," while appearing to be about to punch Chris Wallace in the nose, and not realize that would blow up in their faces? Even they can’t be that feckless....But then on second thought...maybe they are. Undoubtedly, everyone will remember the words Ah trod and faiyelled. Some will remember BJC’s effort to compare Bush’s 8 months to BJC’s 8 yeeyers, but no one will remember either of those things favorably to BJC. True believers, true supporters, will take him at his word and call each other thoughtful and transcendent for agreeing. The rest of us will compare his words to the facts.

As to the content of Clinton’s exchange with Chris Wallace, I find Clinton’s attempt to hide behind the FBI and CIA’s alleged "refusal to certify" as an excuse for his own inaction to be especially lame. He was the Commander-in-Chief, fer cryin’ out loud!

I also think such a bit of excuse-mongering damages the Democrats because it reminds people of the indecisive, legalistic mindset that tends to overcome Democrat officeholders when questions of national security are at stake. Thank God the likes of Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger, and Madeleine Albright will never hold positions of real power again (tho’ I might have to modify that last statement in Bill’s case if Hillary gets elected, which I very much doubt will happen). The more voters are reminded of their record of shilly-shallying, half-measures, and quibbling ("I was all set to invade Afghanistan, but the CIA and the FBI wouldn’t let me!"), the worse it is for current Democratic politicians, because the Democrats have not really changed. They’re a pre-9/11 party in a post-9/11 world. Voters can sense this and it’s going to continue to hurt Democrats at the polls, as it should.

Wow, Fred, you sounded mostly sensible in comment 12 - except for downgrading Bill’s "manliness" for the Uzbekistan thing. Even though I’m more of a Clinton critic than an admirer, you (and Fung) were on-target, there. I definitely miss having a prez who is articulate and intelligent, even when I disagreed with him.

Craig,


In terms of "manliness," the "Uzbekistan thing" was certainly unmanly. You disagree?

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