Sunday, March 21, 2004

Clarke to Bush: FU - Strong Book to Follow

The Richard Clarke interview on 60 minutes is now history. And somewhere in America, a neocon's dog is getting kicked tonight.

It's hard to put into words what I was feeling as the interview with Mr. Clarke by CBS's Lesley Stahl progressed. Over the past few days, I've read snippets from the interview, and regurgitated some of those comments in prior posts. The written words simply don't do the interview justice - because the written word can't nuance emotional voice tone (incredulity, anger, bewilderment). Clarke was pissed. And sad. And befuddled by an administration hell bent for leather and single-minded in its quest to publicly display Saddam's head on a stick.

But I don't want to focus on Clarke right now. There will be millions of forgotten words written tonight on keyboards all around the universe regarding Richard Clarke. The designated Bushinista responder, Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, is my target of opportunity. What a smarmmaster this guy is. While Clarke displayed coolness and righteousness of purpose even during some tough questioning from Stahl, Hadley fairly oozed with slime and smarm. When Stahl administered the coup de grace, stopping Hadley in midsentence and calling him on a profoundly obvious dodge (I'll refrain from using the L word), the man was obviously blindsided like a teenager caught in the bathroom with Dad's Hustler in his hands. He stuttered. He stammered. He hemmed and hawed. And then repeated the It was a classic, and surely destined to join Donald Rumsfeld in the video hall of shame.

On reflection, I think overall the most striking thing is that the Bush administration assigned a second tier flak runner to counter Clarke's allegations. I didn't understand this at all. Maybe National Security Advisor Condi Rice didn't understand the breadth or depth of the story CBS was producing. Maybe she had a round of golf to play that day, or had a dress fitting at Neiman Marcus. Overall, I think letting Stephen Hadley run interference for the Bush Administration will turn out to be a bigger mistake than not saying anything at all prior to airing of the Clarke interview.

Sometimes, you just have to know when to shut up and take your lumps. You can plot revenge after the fact.

Update: Courtesy of Whiskey Bar, a link to (what I'm sure is) a thoroughly unauthorized transcript of Clarke interview.