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Sunday, March 28, 2004

Clarke is Way Smarter Than the Bushies
The former chief counterterrorism adviser at the White House, who has criticized the Bush administration's preparedness for the attacks, said he would welcome the attempt by leading Republicans to declassify 2-year-old congressional testimony. -- NY Times

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been suggesting that Clarke perjured himself by contradicting what he told to Congress two years ago with his testimony. Frist was probably counting on the previous testimony remaining classified so that he could slime Clarke without having to actually deliver the evidence. But just as he did with his opening statement apology on Wednesday, Clarke has immediately taken the wind out of the attack dogs' sails.

With the apology, he took away the argument "How can you blame this all on Bush? Don't you bear some of the responsibility for 9/11?" Clarke took responsibility right from the beginning. And with this statement, Clarke is saying "I have nothing to hide. Bring it on." Frist was bluffing, and Clarke has called his bluff.

Paul O'Neill was shaky from the start. He was unsure of what he was saying, and unwilling or unable to stand up to the heat. He deserves credit for opening the door, but he wasn't ready to really go after the Bushies. Clarke has apparently been preparing for it for a year, and has taken what happened to O'Neill into account. He's credible, he's smart, and he's prepared. If he manages to bring down the Bush administration, he will be one of the greatest American heroes of all time, IMHO!

Not that I want to help Bush get re-elected, but if he were smart (which he isn't) this is what I would suggest that he do:

Immediately stop attacking Clarke. Go on TV and apologize to Clarke for the attacks, and recognize his decades of dedicated service to protecting America--INCLUDING writing his book, talking to 60 Minutes, and testifying before the 9/11 commission. Apologize to the American people for failing to stop 9/11, along the lines of Clarke's apology.

Of course, the only way Bush can possibly pull this off is to admit that he was at least somewhat out of the loop, and was deceived by his subordinates (but not Clarke). This means heads must roll. Condi for sure, then probably Cheney and Wolfowitz, and maybe Rumsfeld and Hadley as well. Then offer Clarke any of the openings created, with a free hand to change things and unlimited access to the president.

It might actually work, but Bush is more likely to balance the budget than he is to apologize. It seems much more likely that they'll try to Wellstone1 Clarke, so I hope he's got some good bodyguards and stays out of small planes.

(1. Wellstone (vt): To kill someone in a small plane and make it look like an accident. See also Carnahan, Mel, and Kennedy, John F. Jr.)