Bill Buckley thinks that Clarke’s apology is, of course, silly and not warranted, yet, he sees it in a much broader political light as part of a comprehensive attack on Bush--for shortcomings in current history--a kind of attack which is rare in American politics: comprehensive and full of vitriol.
Charles Krauthammer also reflects on the apology; he calls it a pseudo-apology and a neat trick: "Indeed, one has to admire it -- the most cynical and brilliantly delivered apology in recent memory: Richard Clarke using the nationally televised Sept. 11 commission hearings to address the families of the victims. Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you.
Many were moved. I was not. For two reasons. First, the climactic confession I failed you -- the one that packed the emotional punch -- was entirely disingenuous. Clarke did the mea culpa and then spent the next 2 1/2 hours of testimony -- as he did on every talk show known to man and in the 300 pages of his book -- demonstrating how everyone else except him had failed. And they failed because the stubborn, ignorant, ideologically blinkered, poll-driven knaves and fools he had been heroically fighting against within the government would not listen to him.
Message: They failed you.
Second, by blaming the government for the deaths of their loved ones, Clarke deftly endorsed the grotesque moral inversion by which those who died on Sept. 11 are victims of . . . George Bush. This is about as morally obscene as the implication (made by, among others, the irrepressible Howard Dean) that those who died in the Madrid bombings were also victims of George Bush."