Round-ups are all over the place regarding Former President Bill Clinton’s interview with Chris Wallace on today’s Fox News Sunday and Allahpundit has a cut of same.
I haven’t watched the video yet and plan to watch the full interview when it comes on in less that an hour from now. I had considered doing a round-up myself, but I started thinking about a certain DVD that I finally got to watch last night: United 93.
From Byron York:
“All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book,” Clinton said at one point in the interview. “All you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive systematic way to try to protect the country against terror,” he said at another. “All you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true,” he said at yet another point. In all, Clinton mentioned Clarke’s name 11 times during the Fox interview.(Emphasis mine.)
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.
Juxtapose the dramatization of one of the greatest acts of collective heroism in battling our enemies against the idea that Former President Clinton was too afraid to risk unpopularity, to make the case for something in which he claims to have believed in—that Osama bin Laden was a grave threat to US national security and that he “needed killing”--and to exercise his prerogatives as Commander-in-Chief against that same enemy.
And juxtapose that against the fact that Clinton was manifestly not afraid to front the mild-mannered, mostly even-handed Chris Wallace. Little risk involved in that as opposed to the former. (Chris is definitely not his father, Mike. However Mike isn’t Mike anymore.)
I’m not really so upset about seeing the former president get raw on someone--and it’s playing quite well in some quarters. Like Jim Pinkerton, I now suspect that the confrontational attitude was a calculated two-pronged move to get Clinton’s message regarding his (in)actions against terrorism out into the public and to rally the faithful--those who believe that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is part of a conspiracy involving faxed talking points between a nebulous cadre of “right-wingers” taking their outlined and objective cues from talk radio and Fox News. He was quite successful on both counts.
The flaw in the tactic is this: no longer are we (meaning the average person with a modem) restricted to waiting weeks, months or years for governmental reports or interview transcripts. We can check such documents against the spoken word right now or, often, beforehand, as was the case here. Strip away all of the bug-eyed, physical finger-pointing, personal space-invading tactics which WJC deployed against his "fearsome enemy," Wallace; strip away all of the great theater contained the interview and strip away all of the great ratings which Fox News will accrue because of it. From there, all we are left with are words and action (or inaction) to read, observe, compare and come to conclusions.
Will update in a bit.
Well, the interview was all it has been cracked up to be. A few points:
1. I copied and pasted the transcript from Think Progress and followed along as the interview progressed. As someone who has transcribed documents for a living, let’s just say that the transcriber needs to hone his/her craft a bit better. Oddly enough, however, the portions of the transcript which involved the former president’s altruistic Clinton Global Initiative were almost word-for-word.
2. When Wallace asked WJC about whether Osama bin Laden had been influenced in his summation of American troops by the Somalia debacle, it sent him into a long rant. He claimed that Wallace had said that bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible for Somalia, something Wallace never said or implied.
3. WJC said that if he had gone into Afghanistan, he’d have more than 20,000 troops. Well, GWB probably would to if the NATO troops weren’t there also.
4. Richard Clarke seems to be heavily on WJC’s mind, as he promoted Clarke’s book countless times as being the definitive bible on the Clinton Administration’s efforts regarding combating bin Laden and his terror network. Problem is that, if Byron York’s excerpt above is any indication, Clarke’s retrospective isn’t as flattering as WJC seems to think it is. (I’ll check the library to see whether the book is available there.)
5. The CIA, the FBI and the “entire military” hated the then commander-in-chief wouldn’t “allow” him to act against bin Laden. So why didn’t he and his administration have the discipline to make the president’s case if “killing bin Laden” was the most important thing ever? Never mind. Forget I asked.
6. The rightwing and the Bush Administration are selling fear, according to WJC. Interestingly said. In his way—and probably inadvertently…maybe—the former president accused the right of selling the same commodity that all terrorists are selling, by the very definition of the word.
7. Again with the “right-wing conspiracy.” That mode of counterattack on WJC’s part lets me know that I was right about this being a calculated move. It fired up the base, alright, because, more than being logical, more than attempting to do what’s best for the country, a good portion of the hardcore left wants the ability to “tell off the right.” (That’s what trolling is about.) And when their champion does it on live TV and all over the internet, that means more that whether the objective truth was told.
A few days ago when this story broke, Dean Esmay and Ed Morrissey opined that we other rightish bloggers should have disdained the Clinton story as old news. Obviously, I don’t agree. We all have had to deal with people who twist events around to suit their personal/professional agendas at some point in our lives; well, at least I have. In nearly all cases, I backed down and said “have it your way” and in all those cases, I wish I hadn’t. Well, the stakes are infinitely greater here and I’m not talking about Bill Clinton’s legacy. I’m talking about our national legacy--for which I think that Bill Clinton will play an ever shrinking role—one in which the truth keeps being told; no matter how much a given
delusionist ex-president wags his/her finger or spouts paranoia about being ganged up on.
Because truth is part of the liberty that’s supposed to be so dear to us.
(Thanks to Memeorandum)