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March 22, 2004


Patrick R. Sullivan

It's funny that everything Richard Clarke told Lesley Stahl last night slipped his mind six months ago when he talked to Jim Lehrer:


JIM LEHRER: To pick up on your analogy, to pick up on Ivo Daalder's analogy, if you're caught between two giants, you can get smashed. Is that what's happening now to Condoleezza Rice?

RICHARD CLARKE: Not at all. As Ivo said, she has a tremendous close personal relationship and great trust from the president. So no one is going to squeeze her between two rocks. But it is true you have a very unusual situation here. You have a vice president who used to be a secretary of defense, used to be a White House chief of staff, who is playing a big role in foreign policy. You have a secretary of defense who used to be a White House chief of staff and used to be a secretary of defense. You have a secretary of state who used to be a national security adviser and used to be...

JIM LEHRER: We forget that, that Colin Powell was the national security adviser in the Reagan administration.

RICHARD CLARKE: And he also used to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs so Colin Powell has held three of the six positions around the table at an NSC principals' meeting. So this president has chosen people who are very strong personalities. He wants them to debate and engage as Franklin Roosevelt did. Franklin Roosevelt used to get his advisers to go at it to see what that produced in terms of analysis and alternatives and options. This is very unlike the president's father, the first President Bush, who didn't like disagreement among the boys. And really you were given demerits if you were a little obstreperous in the first Bush administration. This administration is not like that at all. What people are complaining about is that there is contention and debate and analysis and confrontation. I think that's better than trying to sweep everything under the rug.


RICHARD CLARKE: JIM LEHRER: Now based on your knowledge of Dr. Rice, now that she has a stick, what can we expect?

RICHARD CLARKE: I think you can expect much more integration of Treasury, State Department, CIA, Justice Department, assets -- not just DOD going it alone. I think you can expect a lot closer oversight, detailed, everyday oversight, milestones, goal posts, people being relieved if things don't happen. Condi Rice is a very nice person, but she's also a very tough manager.


Let's repeat the most important bit:

"What people are complaining about is that there is contention and debate and analysis and confrontation. I think that's better than trying to sweep everything under the rug."


Kerry's speech was obviously a fraud that was made up in Texas.


"What people are complaining about is that there is contention and debate and analysis and confrontation. I think that's better than trying to sweep everything under the rug."

I don't see the relevancy; in both cases he’s talking about the debates that went on, Sunday night he elaborated. First O’Neil, then Clarke, which insider is next to spill his guts about what a goober Bush is?


He said this, oh dear bad-reader, in PRAISE of Condi Rice.

All "truth" will henceforth be postponed for the book deal, preferably with a large media conglomerate who will go for the big sell in the guise of a "news report." Note that the people praising 60 Minutes were a week ago upset that Bush put out video press releases.


So if praise is given, it’s a legitimate statement from Clarke. But if he utters criticism, it’s not valid or he’s misinformed, etc.

Hmmm, I guess what Al Franken said is true:

“We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America the way a four-year-old loves her mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a four-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow.”


Wait, Al Franken loves Condi Rice? This is all very nuanced.

And given the current divorce statistics, I am not sure that adult love is universally powerful or enduring enough to make this a compelling metaphor.

Or is he telling us that many liberals are planning to file soon? Imagine my surprise.


Today Paul Krugman picks at Cheney's comment that Clarke was "out of the loop." On and before 9/11, Clarke of all people should have been in the loop, because he wasn't demoted until later. I hate to say it, but Kruggy's got a good point. Anyone have a rebuttal?


Here are Cheney's comments; here is a WaPo version of a WH press release that ought to be on their website. On balance, I would say that Clarke clearly was in the loop on a lot of this stuff, but, according to the WH, didn't use his position to hammer on Al Qaeda - in June 2001, he exerted his authority and briefed the President on cyberterrorism. Interesting guess, but wrong.

The Krugman column makes me wonder how he types this stuff with a straight face. He recycles Ari Fleischer out of context; he flatly misstates the Joeseph Wilson debacle; he tries to argue that, until last fall, no one could have foreseen a market for a Bush-bashing book (when did Michael Moore win an Academy Award?).

Anyway, Clarke is a brave truth-teller, and any attempts at rebuttal are character assasination. Whatever.

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