...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Monday, March 22, 2004
      ( 10:24 AM )
Talk of the Day

Everybody's buzzing about Richard Clarke's revelations last night on 60 Minutes. It was a damning report, made more so by the fact, in my opinion, that 60 Minutes went so far as to get independent confirmation of things that Clarke said.

The attack dogs are already out - and I expect Mr. Clarke knows he will receive the "dirty traitor" treatment forthwith. There is a lot of good commentary around the blogosphere today on this. But one of the best comments, which I think sums up the major part of this scandal is from Josh Marshall (he's continuing to update the subject, so have a look at his whole blog).

The first months of the Bush administration were
based on a fundamental strategic miscalcuation
about the source of the greatest threats to the
United States. They were, as Clark suggests, stuck
in a Cold War mindset, focused on Cold War problems,
though the terms of debate were superficially
reordered to make them appear to address a post-
Cold War world.

That screw up is a reality -- their inability to come
clean about it is, I suspect, is at the root of all the
covering up and stonewalling of the 9/11 commission.
And Democrats are both right and within their rights
to call the White House on it. But screw-ups happen;
mistakes happen. What is inexcusable is the inability,
indeed the refusal, to learn from them.

Rather than adjust to this different reality, on
September 12th, the Bush war cabinet set about
using 9/11 -- exploiting it, really -- to advance an
agenda which had, in fact, been largely discredited
by 9/11
. They shoe-horned everything they'd
been trying to do before the attacks into the new boots
of 9/11. And the fit was so bad they had to deceive
the public and themselves to do it.

As the international relations expert John Ikenberry
noted aptly in a recent essay, the Bush hardliners "fancy
themselves tough-minded thinkers. But they didn't have
the courage of their convictions to level with the American
people on what this geopolitical adventure in Iraq was
really about and what it would cost."

To revert again to paraphrases of Talleyrandian wisdom,
this was worse than a crime. It was a mistake -- though
I suspect that when the full story is told, we'll see that
it was both.

This administration entered office with an agenda. Instead of adjusting to the changing times, it instead used the events of our day to prop up it's tired old agenda. And the cost has been lives of America soldiers, trust of America's allies, and the security of American citizens. No matter what fancy steps the Bush people and conservative pundits dance to try and make this go away, none of it can wipe out the truth. It is not going to get better for them. We can't let them sweep this under the rug. The evidence only mounts, from different sources, that this administration has done nothing but bugger us all. The ultimate accountability will be at the ballot box in November. It just sucks it has to wait that long. These people deserve not another day in office.

UPDATE: Billmon has an excellent piece on Clarke. Here's a taste:

Now maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I find this rather
remarkable. Clarke is a SES man -- Senior Executive
Service, the top tier of the career civil service -- and one
who has served seven presidents, five of them Republicans.
I can't recall any previous examples of a career
executive of Clarke's rank and caliber going so publicly
ballistic on a sitting president.

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