Bill Clinton does the finger-wag again, this time with Chris Wallace of Fox News (transcript). And what has vexed Mr. "It's All About Bill"? The same thing that vexed him just before the airing of ABC's controversial "Path to 9/11", namely, the suggestion that his Administration was lax in pursuing Osama Bin Laden.
And does debating this topic really benefit the Democratic Party just now? In his current melt-down Bill Clinton demands that we read Richard Clarke's book, which lays out the pro-Clinton case.
Read Clarke's book? Please - maybe we can ask President Kerry how the Richard Clarke attacks worked for the Dems in 2004.
And I will take this opportunity to repeat what I think was my only original contribution to this sprawling brawl about Clinton's priorities - Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam delivered "War in a Time of Peace - Bush, Clinton, and the Generals" in May of 2001. Although he covered Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, there is not a hint of a mention of Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden. That suggests that, in all his digging and interviewing on the topic of Clinton at war, Halberstam never uncovered Clinton's war on terror, or did not experience Clinton's people pounding the table and emphasizing its importance.
Well, if Bill Clinton wants to spend the next month discussing his slack pursuit of Bin Laden as we run up to the election, let's everybody blow the dust off their archives and get it on.
MORE: A call for perspective from the Captain:
We have all the investigations and tell-all books we will ever need. We have all formed our opinions. None of us will have them changed at this point. What we need to discuss now is what we do from here, a much more pressing debate that has actual real-world consequences, and we can't have that debate successfully until we stop the useless sniping about pre-9/11 failures.
I infer from his UPDATE that the kinder, gentler Captain has triggered a reader revolt:
...as a nation we need to end this argument if we want to get some consensus on engaging the enemy, and the enemy is not Bill Clinton.
Yes, but - tell that to the people who think the enemy is George Bush. If our friends on the left really want to lose this debate again, why not? I'll have time for all the calm and perspective in the world starting on the first Wednesday following the first Tuesday in November. (If I can sustain my enthusiam that long - looks like I picked a bad season to give up caffeine...)
MIGHT BILL HAVE A PLAN? Bill's temper tantrum may not help any Dems in 2006 but the obvious beneficiary for 2008 is Hillary. If he bullies interviewers away from that question, she wins. Or if asked, any answer she gives will seem calm and sensible by comparison.
The only negative -do we want a First Spouse complaining about right wing media bias? Been there, overcame that.
I QUESTION THE TIMING OF THIS "OSAMA IS DEAD" RUMOR: The Ace of Spades tracks the French report that Osama died of typhoid fever on Aug 23, 2006 in Pakistan. He also makes all the points I would have made about a Rovian plot and finds a lot of stuff I would have overlooked.
First, a bit of the report:
PARIS (AP) - The head of terrorist network al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, has died, according to information from the Saudi police, transmitted by the Directorate-General of External Services (DGSE), and reported on the Lorraine daily newspaper L'Est republicain in its Saturday edition.
"According to a commonly reliable source, the Saudi police believes that Osama Bin Laden has died," said a September 21st confidential note from the DGSE classified as "defense." L'Est republicain will publish it in its Saturday edition. The note, specified the daily newspaper, would be re-printed "un-edited."
And a bit of the speculation:
Question the Timing BIG TIME: Now, if my theory is right, the Bush Administration has of course sort of known about this for a while (for at least three weeks) but hasn't been able to confirm it, and thus hasn't been able to announce it. But they've known there might be some good news on the way.
According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an "October surprise" before the midterm elections.
"In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an 'October surprise' to help win the November congressional elections," reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax.
I have thought that Osama has been in the news lately because of the ABC miniseries and the 9/11 anniversary. But Dems have worried about this particular October Surprise (or July Surprise) for a couple of elections now, so why not make it three in a row?
And let's give the Rovian Plot People their due - in 2004, TNR worried that Bush would announce the capture of a High Value Target the night that John Kerry addressed the Democratic Convention. In fact, this notion was so widely believed on the left that the NY Times actually prepared an alternative front page Just In Case. (Yes, it is hard to believe...) How did that work out? Well, the US cannounced the capture of an Osama underling, number 22 on the hit list.
And the DNC managed to capture Kerry's balloons. Quite a night.