E.J. Dionne has a little trouble with his recent history in his latest column:
Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back
Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.
By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right. The conservative movement understands the political value of controlling the interpretation of history. Now its control is finally being contested.
Finally? Does Dionne really think this is new? Apparently he does - this is the only example of Democratic attempts to write history that he notes:
Moreover, when Democrats, notably former House minority leader Richard Gephardt, finally put their heads up in the late spring of 2002 to ask questions about that Aug. 6, 2001, memo warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks, the Republican pushback was furious.
Oh, please - in 2002 Gephardt was (I'll bet) joining in on the Sandy Berger fantasy as told to TIME magazine and retracted by Berger a bit later. Berger's story to TIME was that Richard Clarke, terror czar, had delivered a comprehensive plan to Condi Rice when the Bush team took over in 2001. Later Berger backpedaled, telling a Congressional committee this:
But there was no war plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition. And the reports of that are just incorrect.
Just to resolve the confusion - Clarke turned over what might be called a proposal. Since it had not been reviewed, approved, budgeted and staffed by the relevant arms of the bureaucracy, including but not limited to State, Defense, and Treasury, calling it a "plan" would have been wildly premature. In fact, By Sept 10 the Bush team had adopted many of the Clarke proposals, although that was not exactly timely; that said, earlier adoption probably would not have disrupted the hijacking plot.
Moving on, the Democrats tried to revive the "Clarke had a plan" theme during the Kerry campaign, which overlapped neatly with the 9/11 hearings that starred Richard Clarke; Clarke also introduced the notion that terror had no higher priority under Clinton but was back-burnered under Bush. This notion was also beaten back.
Evidently these episodes did not register with Mr. Dionne.