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The Right vs. Richard Clarke: Indignation And The Hollow Dodge

I’ve been anxious this week, trying to get a sense of the fallout and impact of Richard Clarke’s political bombshell. Moreover, I would like to see how the sum total of this week’s events has played with the American electorate.

Did the unprecedented (and coordinated) offensive by the Bush White House, the GOP and willing enablers Roger Ailes/Fox News, succeed in drowning out Clarke’s assertions?

Take note, that I did not use the verb ‘discredit’, or the phrase ‘effectively refute’, to describe one of the possible outcomes. Why?

Right there, in the crisp new pages of Clarke’s just published book, was the text of his pointed assertions and damning claims, now open to close scrutiny. So, why did the White House need to go dig up old e-mails? Should this be cited as an example of when declassifying counter-terrorism briefings outweighs the concerns of national security and executive privilege?

Apparently, the White House has long been in possession of Clarke’s book, which was submitted for clearance nearly a year ago. One would think that Karl Rove had already set the playbook for the eventual release and probable fallout. Unfortunately, a week of contradictions, clarifications and one not-ready-for-prime time, White House spokesman on 60 Minutes, have proven otherwise.

Conversely, Richard Clarke was credible, resolute, dignified and contrite. Surely, his genuine apology before the 9/11 commission will resonate deeper than the attacks against him.

Conservative NYTimes columnist David Brooks finally weighed in on the Clarke controversy. His cited examples of Clarke’s treachery had nothing to do with the book; in fact, Brooks’ column is totally void of any substantive debunking.

This made me curious as to how Brooks’ fellow Conservative pundits/commentator were spinning this possible setback to their cause. Well, Robert Novak went rifling through Clarke’s recent political contributions; Charles Krauthammer dug up a petty Clarke ‘gotcha’ from a 2002 PBS ‘Frontline’ segment; and last, Ann Coulter went with the old stand-by ‘liberal media conspiracy’, plus, jumped into the ‘body language’ furor as the crux of her outrage.

As with David Brooks’ column, they all had one thing in common – not one bothered to directly discount or discredit, any of the claims in Richard Clarke’s book ‘Against All Enemies’. The following is my comment posted in the NYTimes reader’s forum about David Brooks’ column:

I couldn't wait to see Mr. Brooks take on the Clarke controversy. I'm convinced that if he had any solid and direct proof to refute the principle claims of Mr. Clarke, he would not have waited this long to write this column.

Brooks infers he's read Clarke's book. Where are the specifics he takes issue with? Where are the links to or citing of like-minded individuals who have successfully discredited Clarke's main assertions?

Is Mr. Brooks gonna hang his hat on emails, body language and Fox News to make his case?

I've been hearing lots of Republicans using the 'bi-partisan' word and fretting about the stench of rancor, of late. It sorta reminds me of when a gunfighter runs out of bullets.

Mr. Brook's has weighed in not with conviction and proof, but with annoyance and a weak alibi.

David your grievance is not with Richard Clarke, but with a President who has put you in this untenable position.

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at March 27, 2004 7:01 PM