Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 6, 2004
POLITICS/WAR: Quote of the Week

From the Krauthammer column I noted yesterday, this Q&A from the September 11 hearings is all you really need to know about desperate efforts to blame the Bush Administration for September 11:

SEN. SLADE GORTON: "Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001 ... had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?"

CLARKE: "No."

Indeed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:42 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

So it was wrong to ask the question?

And Clarke's answer displeases you?

Why have a 9/11 commission, and not ask that question?

Posted by: C Giddy at April 6, 2004 9:24 AM

You misunderstand me. I'm all in favor of Gorton asking that question, and Clarke gave an honest answer to it, in spite of his fevered efforts to create the contrary impression. My big problem is with the attempt to spin Clarke's various statements into an allegation that the Bush Administration was not only negligent in failing to prevent September 11, but uniquely so in contrast to the Clinton Administration.

In point of fact, however, I'm not convinced that this commission has accomplished anything at all, given the rather extensive public record that already existed about how we would up where we were on September 11. It's a Beltway mentality to assume that we don't know anything until it gets said to politicians in front of a camera.

Posted by: The Crank at April 6, 2004 10:20 AM

I think that for the most part Clark's testimony has been equally damning to both the Bush and Clinton administration. I'm not saying that Clark doesn't have a bias, but I just wonder if the media is creating most of this controversy.

Posted by: Richard at April 7, 2004 4:52 AM

I did not read the Krauthammer column you refer to because I find him utterly unreadable (he and Maureen Dowd are two of the most consistently awful major columnists... better throw Safire in there too). Based solely on your post, I'm not sure I get your point. A perfectly good question and a perfectly concise answer. One that even gives the result you were hoping for.

Clarke's motivation and overall point is less about the preventability of 9/11, but more a problem with Bush acting like he did everything possible, and running for reelection on a platform based on a stellar record of anti-terrorosm, when that record is actually pretty dubious.

I am biased, and clearly Clarke holds a great deal of animosity for the Bush Administration, but I do not think the Commission's proceedings have been any harder on Bush than Clinton, and the coverage has been pretty fairly reflective of that. It might not seem that way to someone used to Bush being treated with kid gloves for three years, but that's what I've been reading. The days of Administration officials or spokesmen stepping up to a microphone and saying whatever they want (true or not) with impunity are over, and the country will be better off for it.

Most of the rough treatment Bush and the Administration has received has been due to their own poor job handling a suddenly vigilant press corps, and the stonewalling and stalling they've been doing. The Administration has behaved like a hostile witness in dealing ith the Commission, and is being deservedly treated that way by some in the press. They have acted like they have something to hide, whether that is the case or not remains to be seen, but have handled this affair poorly across the board. It has lengthened news cycles, had them playing defense more than they should, and just drawn more attention to themselves than was necessary. Hard for them to blame anyone (even a supposedly liberal media) but themselves for their predicament.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 8, 2004 12:27 AM

I don't see what's so hard to understand here. The media's been wailing that Clarke's testimony shows that Bush could have prevented September 11. Clarke himself admits that this is not the case. Thus, the whole media spin on this thing has been a big fraud.

But yes, I'll admit that the Bush Administration has been unduly defensive here. They should have just faced up to the fact that the whole political culture failed to take terrorism seriously enough before September 11. But there's just no basis for saying that the Bush Administration made any changes in policy from the Clinton years that made September 11 more likely, nor is there any basis for saying that, had the Bush Administration taken any steps (within then-existing law) prior to September 11 to do things differently, that would have changed the outcome.

Posted by: The Crank at April 8, 2004 1:08 AM
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