March 26, 2004

The Morbid Fascination of a Train Wreck

...that must be it. This must be the reason I am so completely engrossed, these past few days, with the daily transcripts of the White House Briefings. I have been grossly negligent in following the subtle nuances of what is going on around me over the past few months, but thank God for Mr. Clarke and a return to insanity.

As far as I can decipher the spin from the 24th, Scott McClellan seems to be trying to explain to a bevy of remarkably skeptical reporters that Mr. Clarke's credibility as an independent analyst, speaking for himself in his recent book and in testimony, is in doubt. Why? Because he, in a conference call to media in 2002 made in his role as White House counter-terrorism lead, provided information to the reporters on that call that contradicts his recent testimony and book. Moreover (and here's the good part) McClellan manfully tries to explain to these obviously dense reporters that this prior testimony was not, in fact, Clarke briefing the media on the Bush White House's current party line, but was really Clarke briefing the media on his own opinions.

Of course, in that call, Clarke (who was, by the way, not identified during the call save as a White House expert) introduces his speech by saying he has "some talking points." He then goes on to describe some vaguely positive perspectives on the Bush White House's actions concerning terrorism. McClellan, after denying that the White House 'dissembles' or otherwise 'plans spin' on their daily briefings (!) says the following in his briefing:

"This goes to his credibility, and I think that those are questions that Mr. Clarke needs to answer...You cannot square Dick Clarke's new assertions with his past words. That's very clear."
(note: the phrase "This goes to his credibility" appears at least thrice in McClellan's briefing this day with regards to Clarke).

Um. Let me get this straight. You are telling me that Clarke is of dubious credibility because, in 2002, as a Bush White House employee assigned to give a briefing to the press, his statements do not match those made recently, months after leaving Government employ, and accusing the Bush White House of not handling the counterterrorism task properly? Well, um, I should *hope* that the words don't match, because otherwise he's not telling us anything we need to hear. Furthermore, those first words - the ones McClellan is trying to deceive us into believing are the ones that make Clarke less credible - are the ones that the Bush White House wrote for him, into "seven talking points." Unless, as McClellan states ("These are his own words") we are to believe that the Bush White House placed someone on a conference call with reporters, introduced them as the White House staffer on record, and then happily allowed them to make up what they were saying on the go, or to mouth off their personal beliefs without so much as a vetting.

I'm sorry, this is just getting pathetic. So Clarke is not credible, and has an ax to grind, and is a disaffected Liberal? Well, no; he's a Reagan appointee who in addition to working for both Clinton administrations worked for Bush's dad, and is a fairly severe hawk.

What I've just written is nothing new. Various web commentators, at least, have been writing more eloquent versions of this since McClellan's briefing. I am not writing it to convince, just to place on record so that later, when I recall the level of my disbelief as a past fact, I have some indication of the depth of the feeling.

We need to bring these fuckers down.

One day, sometime soon, we'll hear from the grand jury impaneled in the Valerie Plame affair. If we're lucky, they'll tackle Karl Rove and bury him for five-to-ten in a large moldy cell in that wonderful state of Texas, and let him have all the booze he wants - just no new liver. Posted by jbz at March 26, 2004 3:32 AM

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