Man Without Qualities

Friday, May 17, 2002

What Terrorists Do III

UPDATE: Already the Vice President has begun the process made inevitable by the Democrats' accusations. Are they keeping track of who among them decided to pick this particular fight?

According to the New York Times, "In a Senate speech, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, called on Mr. Bush to "come before the American people at the earliest possible time to answer the questions so many New Yorkers and Americans are asking." The Democrats are also more generally demanding "full disclosure of what Mr. Bush was told last summer about the danger of terrorist hijackings."

A great deal is at risk. Previously, the very partial disclosure of information regarding monitoring of Bin Laden's cell phone calls in a pre-September 11 criminal trial caused those calls to cease, which choked off an important source of intelligence on his activities. By calling for "full disclosure" the Democrats seem to be willing to risk a lot more of that kind of thing. And they - even Mrs. Clinton - seem willing to risk forcing the Administration to talk about Clinton-era intelligence policies. The Democrats seem either very confident or very desperate.

Over the past month or so the Democrats through liberal media have engaged in a chorus of accusations that the Administration had unfairly "questioned the patriotism" of anyone who criticized the President following the September 11 disasters. The Times itself has been testing the waters through its in-house columnists, such a Maureen Dowd, who was producing shocking and insensitive material on the topic months ago - even Paul Krugman's last incoherent emission on the tax consequences of companies reincorporating in Bermuda (!) included an aside on the topic. That chorus now seems to have been preparation for their current attack on the President. But what will their game plan be for answering the almost inevitable high-dudgeon Presidential speech about Democrat partisan efforts to undermine him in this time of a national crisis whose existence the Democrats are now implicitly denying?

A sign of how far the Democrats and the Times are willing to go can be found in the highly irresponsible Times editorial, couched in pseudo-reasonable prose, which asserts that "Mr. Bush's aides were scrambling yesterday to deflect suspicion that he had failed to act on a clear warning, a sure sign that they feared the accusation would stick and damage him politically." But there is no support whatsoever in any Times coverage that there was any "clear warning," and no Democrat has yet dared to assert such thing. No doubt that will come later. The Times editorial bears the inappropriate trivializing title "The Blame Game" - indicating that the September 11 aftermath is now regarded by the Times as a political "game." But the indications so far are that only the Democrats and their media water carriers regard these matters as a game. The summer will tell if the public is willing to play along with them.

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