Clarke and various Democrats, including presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., have accused the White House of engaging in vicious character attacks to discredit Clarke.
But Clarke, after all, has been vicious in attacking Bush. The Bush response has been, in the main, factual.
On CBS' "60 Minutes," Clarke declared, "I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it ... for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know."
Besides making some petty observations that Clarke was trying to sell a book, the White House released — and was entirely within its rights to release — a background briefing that Clarke held with reporters in August 2002 in which he defended White House preparations.
Contrary to a Time magazine assertion that the Bush administration rejected Clinton administration anti-terrorism plans out of "animus," Clarke told the reporters that Bush had kept on Clinton officials — notably, Clarke himself — and that Clinton never had actually developed a full-blown "plan" to fight terror.
Questioned sharply by 9/11 commission members about the contrast between the background transcript and his book, Clarke claimed — in essence — that he'd "spun" reporters at the urging of his White House superiors. The only alternative, he said, would have been to resign. Surely, he could have simply declined.
The most damning single challenge to Clarke's credibility is the fact that he urgently sought to stay on in the Bush administration to be No. 2 man at the Department of Homeland Security.
Friends of Clarke have told me that he was deeply bitter when he was denied the job. Clearly, were he in that post today, his book, "Against All Enemies" (The Free Press, 2004), would never have been written.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
It sounds like Bush has totally won over Morton Kondracke. Remember when Kondracke used to be the resident liberal on the Mclaughlin Group?
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 9:48 PM