September 11, 2006

9/11 and Revising the Clinton Legacy

Writers with complex and insightful takes on the conclusions and meanings we can draw from September 11, 2001 will provide you with hours and hours of reflection today, should you be interested in their viewpoints. I won't presume to have anything new or novel to add, any additional wisdom to provide.

I do want to mark the day with a tip o' the hat to the shear audacity of the Republican party however...

Many of you will remember the 14 months and over 40 million dollars spent in the 90's to derail the Clinton Presidency, because of the shocking revelation that he had some sex with someone he shouldn't have and then lied about it. While Congress was occupied with investigating then impeaching Clinton, the effectiveness of the Presidency was severely compromised, Clinton's ability to focus national energy and attention on pressing matters diminished, and the role of the President as a national priority-setter undermined. During the months of scandal and impeachment Congress largely ignored Clinton's agenda, and he was unable to get media attention for anything that wasn't scandal-related.

Yet some Republicans now claim that is was during that very time -- the time that Clinton was being hamstrung by Republican efforts -- that was our greatest opportunity to pro-actively defeat the terrorists with whom we are now so preoccupied, and Bill blew it. They're blaming Clinton for 9/11! The same Republican party who 8 years ago had prominent members accusing Clinton of attempting to divert attention away from Monica Lewinsky's testimony by attacking Afghanistan and Sudan in August of '98, are now retroactively accusing Clinton of not aggressively prosecuting a war against terrorists while we had the chance to hit them before they hit us.

For Bill Clinton, regardless of whether you act or don't act, it'll be a spun as character flaw.

Just prior to the August attacks in 1998, Republicans had been arguing that Clinton should resign because his scandal had rendered him ineffectual as a President and the American people no longer trusted him. On the day of the attack, the same day that Monica Lewinsky was wrapping up her testimony to Ken Starr, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) rushed to have a press conference to ask why Clinton waited until then to act? Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said: "After months of lies and deceit and manipulations and deceptions -- stonewalling -- it raised into doubt everything he does and everything he says."

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) at the time took a more neutral line back in 1998. I wish I could infer from his remarks a certain amount of frustration that the President had been hampered from further action due to the efforts of the Republican party to check any Democratic agenda:
"This administration for the last seven months has neglected compelling national security threats besides this -- Saddam Hussein's ejection of our inspectors, North Korea building nuclear weapons again in violation of an agreement, Middle East peace process stalled, thousands of people being ethnically cleaned in Kosovo," McCain said. "I hope that the president will not confine his activities to just this, but to address the other very compelling problems that also affect our nation's security problems long-term.
Perhaps McCain recognized that Clinton had little or no room to maneuver; perhaps McCain was one of the few Republicans who felt that their party's witch-hunt was a distraction from more pressing matters. If so, McCain was one of the paltry, quiet minority. Republican's boxed Bill Clinton in for a large portion of his Presidency, allowing him little room to take any significant action -- and now they bemoan his lack of action.

In contrast to Clinton's dogged two terms in office, hounded by Whitewater and by Monica Lewinsky, by travelgate and Vince Foster's death, G.W.B. has enjoyed carte-blanche to act as he pleased and spend as he pleased, with the least accountability of any President in recent history. It is amazing to me that now that the war that Republicans envisioned, sold, prosecuted, and paid for with our budget surplus has gone horribly wrong on so many levels, Republicans are attempting to re-classify the whole affair as an unfortunate legacy of a wasted Democratic Presidency.

Just stunned at the chutzpah. Stunned. Keeping my eyes open for Bubba's response; I can't imagine he'll allow his rep to be tarnished this way, especially with so much riding on the good Clinton name over the next two years.


At 12:54 PM, Blogger Velvet said...

You know all politicians are liars right? Hee hee.

Look, plenty of guys are messing with interns etc. It doesn't stop them from doing their jobs. Oh. Wait. It does. Okay, forget that.


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