The International Writers Magazine: Comment: USA Politics
The Bush Bind
Presidents are always subject to criticisms fair and not. Our current
President is no different.
the charges made by the other party are the standard ones any opposing
party would hurl - they have truths and untruths admixed liberally within.
Rare is it, though, that the charges are both damning and almost certainly
true in toto. Even worse is when these true charges come from former
members of your own administration. Such is the fix that Bush. finds
himself in these days. Not only is he seeking re-election against Democratic
Senator John Kerry, but he has to fend off increasingly damning charges
from current and former members of his own administration. Even worse,
these charges seem to support nearly every criticism levied by the most
ideological of his opponents against the President in regards to his
neglect of terrorism before 9/11, and his deceitful conduct of the war
in Iraq to the world and American people.
You know your Presidency is in dire trouble when everything the Far
Left says about you is subsequently proven true by your own people.
To wit - the release of former National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism
[aka Terrorism Czar] Richard Clarkes book Against
All Enemies: Inside Americas War On Terror, his 3/21/04
60 Minutes interview, & subsequent testimony before the 9/11 Commission
has shown Bush as
1: blithely uncaring of Al Quaida threats pre-9/11,
2: monomaniacally obsessed with Saddam Hussein before and after 9/11,
to the point of seeking to have subordinates frame Saddam
for the attacks, and...
3: woefully mismanaging both the Afghan & Iraq wars and their aftermaths.
Heres a typical book excerpt reprinted via a New York Times piece:
I expected to go back to a round of meetings examining what the
next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could
do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of
discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking
about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost
a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul]
Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy
to promote their agenda about Iraq.
Of course, the Bushies sought to immediately discredit Clarke, except
that in interview after interview Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
(quoted by Clarke as saying There aren't any good targets in
Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq.),
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and co. kept contradicting
their own earlier claims, and each others. The worst example of
this was in reaction to this claim by Clarke: Later, on the
evening of the 12th, I left the video conferencing center and there,
wandering alone around the situation room, was the president. He looked
like he wanted something to do. He grabbed a few of us and closed the
door to the conference room. "Look," he told us, "I know
you have a lot to do and all . . . but I want you, as soon as you can,
to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See
if he's linked in any way." I was once again taken aback, incredulous,
and it showed. "But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this."
"I know, I know, but see if Saddam was involved. Just
look. I want to know any shred"
"Absolutely, we will look again.` I was trying to be
more respectful, more responsive. `But you know, we have looked several
times for state sponsorship of Al Qaeda and not found any real linkages
to Iraq. Iran plays a little, as does Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, Yemen.`
"Look into Iraq, Saddam," the president said testily
and left us.
For days the Administration denied the meeting ever took
place. Clarke was unequivocally a liar. When Clarkes aides backed
up his story, and several White House staffers admitted they knew Clarkes
version to be true the White House sheepishly admitted they had been
mistaken- the meeting did occur, but W. was just doing due
diligence- no pressure on Clarke and his staff to frame Saddam.
Even more telling has been Rice, portrayed as utterly clueless and out
of her league in regards to National Security, being told by the White
House that she could not publicly testify under oath before the 9/11
Commission for the specious reasoning that it would violate the separation
of powers of the federal government.(News is that she will now testify
in public under oath.) Add to that Ws refusal to testify before
the Commission, and the continued lack of Weapons of Mass Destruction
being found in Iraq, and this is a trying time for the President.
Yet, these are just the latest in a series of stunning revelations from
former insiders of Ws reign. Whereas Clarke has been
portrayed as a turncoat auditioning for a job with President
Kerry (absurd considering his appointments over the years by mostly
Republican Administrations), the White House has had no easy response
to an equally damning book by former Treasury Secretary Paul ONeill,
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education
of Paul ONeill, by Ron Suskind. In it ONeill claims
that from Day One the Bush Administration sought to topple Saddam above
all other concerns. ONeill blasts CIA Director George Tenet when
as evidence for Saddams WMD threat he produced a grainy photo
of an Iraqi factory claimed to be producing chemical and biological
weapons. ONeill, ex-CEO of Alcoa, the aluminum giant, skeptically
said there was no way you could tell what was being produced in a factory
from such a photo. Tenet, State Secretary Colin Powell, Rumsfeld, Rice,
and others seemed peeved that he was contradicting what the President
wanted to hear.
By all accounts the 1-2 punches of ONeills & Clarkes
books has the Administration in a tizzy. Well, all except the President
who seems to be living up to his enemies claims of being a mere figurehead.
So blissfully out of touch with the nations mood is W. that on
3/24, at a Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner, he joked Those weapons
of mass destruction have to be here somewhere. Nope, no weapons over
there. Maybe under here. while a slide show showed the President
supposedly looking under Oval Office file cabinets and desks.
The apex of how out of touch W. is may have been this quote from Clarkes
60 Minutes interview: I blame the entire Bush leadership for
continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001.
It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office
eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same
issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats
that had developed over the preceding eight years. That all
of these claims and charges have been hanging in the air since 9/11
by Leftists & Democrats is especially galling to W & more so
to Conservative Republicans already abandoning his sinking ship for
his bloated overspending. They seem to be smelling the rot that W and
Co. refuse to. Its clear the President knew of the Al Quaida threat
but pooh-poohed it, knew that they had plans to use jet liners as missiles
on US targets, and was warned within a week of 9/11 that such an attack
could occur. Still he did nothing. Compared to a 1999 thwarted terrorist
attack at LAX, under the Clinton Administration, and W seems especially
naïve and in over his head. Add to that a cluelessness regarding
the future of Iraq, and the most disastrous economic record since Herbert
Hoover and the earlier Bush re-election strategy of downplaying the
economy in favor of his War Record seems specious at best.
At worst its a recipe for political hari-kiri as more former aides-cum-critics
surface. The White House seeks to portray critics like Clarke as hypocritical
by pointing to the fact that in August 02 news conference Clarke
gave a speech praising Bushs handling of terrorism, not seeing
that such a presentation merely strengthens Clarkes claims that
he was strong-armed by the White House into downplaying what he knew
to be true. The failures of the CIA & DIA have been fobbed off with
the excuse that other nations intelligence agencies made similar
errors re: Saddams WMD capabilities, yet it is now clear that
most of those claims were made in large part based upon biased US Intelligence
information and outright fraud by, especially, UK Intelligence.
Add all of these things together and for the firstt time since Barry
Goldwater ran for President in 1964 Conservatives are terrified that
their candidate could be running a campaign headed for a disaster to
rival that one. And they are right to fear, for people like Clarke,
ONeill, and the swiftly, forced-forgotten CIA Weapons Inspector
David Kay (remember?- no WMDs in Iraq), seem to keep popping up every
There are still seven months to go before the election, but one needs
to go back to Watergate to see an Administration inflicting so much
damage upon itself. Just dont mention Deep Throat to anyone in
the Administration. Or, better yet, do, and watch them squirm.
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