Richard Clarke’s testimony before the 9/11 commission is aimed at persuading the voting public that team Bush was so obsessed with Iraq that it failed to focus on al Qaeda’even after Sept. 11.
Come to think if it, that’s sort of like what the president’s Democratic adversaries are saying, too.
Clarke’s remarks are turning into a Washington Rorschach test.
The reliably liberal Newsweek headlined its report ‘Your Government Failed You’ (from Clarke’s weird/passive aggressive ‘apology’ to 9/11 families).
‘In deft and sometimes dramatic testimony,’ Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff wrote, ‘former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke today did new political damage to the Bush White House by laying out a bold scenario by which the September 11 plot might have been unraveled.’
Newsweek notes that nothing in Clarke’s testimony actually shows that the 9/11 plot could have been derailed.
But it concludes: ‘Thanks to Clarke’s testimony, the second guessing is certain to get louder.’
Ron Brownstein notes in the even more reliably liberal Los Angeles Times that Clarke’s testimony ‘dovetails’ what administration critics are saying. Brownstein is smart enough to know that, when it comes to the safety of the republic, people will vote more on their experience of the Bush administration than on Richard Clarke and the 9/11 commission.
But, writes Brownstein, quoting a spokesman from America Coming Together, because of Clarke now Bush ‘will have to spend more time and money shoring himself up on a front where he had earlier presumed he was virtually untouchable.’
On the other side of the aisle, NR editor Rich Lowery, writing in the New York Post, has catalogued some of Clarke’s more egregious contradictions:
‘In his testimony yesterday, Clarke said that the Clinton administration had “no higher priority” than fighting terror. No. In his own book, he says trying to force a Middle East peace agreement was more important to Clinton than retaliating for the attack against USS Cole.
Like Ron Brownstein, Peggy Noonan feels that in this election voters will rely more on their own gut intelligence than the 9/11 commission and Dick Clarke:
‘Common sense suggests that those who led the nation for eight years before 9/11 bear greater responsibility than those who led the nation for less than eight months. Nothing in the hearings disturbed that notion. In fact, I thought Ms. Albright’s testimony tended to underscore it. She spoke of the “megashock” of 9/11 and repeatedly suggested there was no political will on the part of the American people before that date to attack the Taliban or invade Afghanistan.”
As for me, I simply state for the record that Clarke has got to be a liberal. Only liberals apologize that often and for other people.