A cold eye

Richard Miniter writes in the Wall Street Journal[*1] :

It is vital that this debate be honest, but so far this has not been the case. Both Mr. Clinton’s outrage at Chris Wallace’s questioning and the ABC docudrama “The Path to 9/11” are attempts to polarize the nation’s memory. While this divisiveness may be good for Mr. Clinton’s reputation, it is ultimately unhealthy for the country. What we need, instead, is a cold-eyed look at what works against terrorists and what does not. The policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations ought to be put to the same iron test.

With that in mind, let us examine Mr. Clinton’s war on terror. Some 38 days after he was sworn in, al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center. He did not visit the twin towers that year, even though four days after the attack he was just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, talking about job training. He made no attempt to rally the public against terrorism. His only public speech on the bombing was a few paragraphs inserted into a radio address mostly devoted an economic stimulus package. Those stray paragraphs were limited to reassuring the public and thanking the rescuers, the kinds of things governors say after hurricanes. He did not even vow to bring the bombers to justice. Instead, he turned the first terrorist attack on American soil over to the FBI.

A while back, James Lileks wrote[*2] :

Just so you know: 9/11 reset the clock for me. All hands went to midnight. I’m interested in what people did afterthat date, and if the (ABC) movie shows that before the attack one sidelacked feck and the other was feck-deficient, I don’t worry about it.It’s like revisiting Congressional debates about Hawaiian harborsecurity in November 1941. Y’all get a pass. The Etch-A-Sketch’s turnedover. Now: what have you said lately?

I’m not sure I’m to this point yet, but I do know that if this country doesn’t somehow come together, it’s possible to lose to the Islamists, but it’s not possible to win against them.  I’d be much more inclined to listen to the arguments of the Democrats if I thought that they actually took the Islamists seriously.  But they’re so locked into somehow defeating Bush and the Republicans, that even secret intelligence estimates are fair game for political manipulation.

And, a final thought:  if, as it appears, our intelligence community let us down so badly in the run-up to 9/11, why on earth are people spending so much time and effort arguing about the latest product from that same intelligence apparatus?