Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Since the country seems to be doing the nostalgia thing this week, let's take a quick revisit of Bill Clinton's commitment to dealing with terrorism. Never mind that he was stymied completely by a rabid GOP congress that was clearly an obstruction to everything the Clinton administration proposed. That Clinton was able to accomplish anything, much less the successes he actually enjoyed, continues to amaze me.

So, here we go - the last Democratic Party administration was clearly tougher on terrorism than the current GOP administration, according to Richard Clarke:

In a chapter entitled "That Almost War, 1996," Clarke says former U.S. President Bill Clinton almost launched a war against Iran for what Washington says its support for terrorism against the United States.

However, Clarke says Clinton chose not to attack Iran but ordered an "intelligence operation" that seemed to have worked.

"Following the intelligence operation, and perhaps because of it and the serious U.S. threats, among other reasons, Iran ceased terrorism against the U.S.," Clarke wrote. "War with Iran was averted."
Now, let's not take Clarke's word for it. Let's go to the audio tape. How about an actual example of the Clinton Administration's recognition of the terror threat, and attempts to deal with it (those attempts being thwarted, to a degree, by the GOP) in 1996:

On the domestic front, Clinton said he would sign the anti-terrorist bill Congress passed this week, even though it does not contain all the provisions he requested. (184K AIFF sound or 184K WAV sound)

"I will sign this bill into law early next week and, by Wednesday, law enforcement will have new tools to crack down, track down and shut down terrorists," Clinton said in the radio address. "It may not go as far as I would like, but it does strike a real blow against terrorism."

The measure, born from the public outrage over the truck bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City one year ago, strengthens the authority of federal investigators and provides $1 billion over four years to help federal and state authorities fight terrorism.
[Emphasis mine.]

Yep, GOP revisionist history is wonderful. If George Bush had directed his administration to expend even a scintilla of the effort on terrorism (before the 9/11 horse was out of the barn) that the Clinton administration did, 9/11 would not have happened.

I want to keep this in persepctive for the next 5 months, particularly in light of Bush's perceived strength - "tough of terror" - as reflected in the Gallup Poll posted below.

Progressives need to keep hammering on this theme: the Democratic Party recognized the importance of dealing with terrorism long before it was on the GOP's radar screen. While the GOP was busy chasing ghosts in Whitewater, and slavering over blowjobs in the Oval Office, the Democratic Party administration was working it's arse off to deal with the threat of terrorism.

...unlike its GOP successor that didn't even care enough to take a meeting on terrorism until just before 9/11/01.

Update, 7:45PM - I received a bit of feedback to this piece on Whiskey Bar this afternoon (I don't know why the person didn't drop it here...AFAIK the comments at ASZ work fine):

In your blog today you posted: "If George Bush had expended even a scintilla of the effort on terrorism (before the 9/11 horse was out of the barn) that Clinton did, 9/11 would not have happened."

That kind of absolute statement is counter-productive and inflammatory. While you did an excellent job of pointing out positive things Clinton did or attempted- we should never say "9/11 would not have happened if." My opinion is that it really isn't that hard to commit a massive act of terrorism. There isn't a whole lot that can stop a madman or group of madmen from killing people if they are motivated enough.
And here's my short response:

That statement is quite intentionally intended to be inflammatory.

Seems to me that Rovians don't have any problem with dealing in absolutes. We (progressives) have to get over the skeeviness that "steering statements" cause us.
I expand on this thought a bit more in the comments section. Click the link below.