Monday, September 25, 2006

Chris Wallace: Owned

Both sides will claim victory: Clinton bitch- slapped Chris Wallace versus Fox News made Clinton lose his cool. If you haven't seen the unedited video, it's worth a peek. If you've seen clips, there's value in seeing the entire segment in order to appreciate the wind up and the pitch by the interviewer. Also, to truly appreciate Clinton's answer, listen to what he says rather than merely focusing on his demeanor or his socks.

Wallace begins his “question”, which is really just a smirky gotcha, with a laundry list of every bomb that has gone off since 1993, including WTC attacks, Somalia Blackhawk Down episode, US embassy attacks in Africa, OBL's war declaration and finally the USS Cole, before asking if Clinton did enough to catch Osama bin Laden. Wallace prefaced the question with the canard that “viewers want to know” and referenced the latest book The Looming Tower.

Clinton showed justified indignation when responding:

  1. The WTC attacks in 1993 and the US embassy bombings were done before OBL and al Qaeda were on the radar of our clandestine services.

  2. Somalia ws not recognized as having anything to do with Osama bin Laden, but rather Muhammad Aidid.

  3. The CIA and FBI did not recognize al Qaeda as the responsible party in the African bombings until much later.

  4. USS Cole was attacked in October 2000 and the investigation wasn't completed until early 2001 when inspectors determined that al Qaeda, and not Hamas, was responsible.

So, the long preface to Wallace's question was 95% bullshit that had nothing to do with the resolve of the previous administration to get bin Laden. Fox news is so used to interviewees dreamily going along with the canard that they are surprised when somebody is intellectually honest enough to dissect the issues and put them into temporal context.

The USS Cole is the seminal issue. The official report came out in early 2001 that Osama bin Laden was responsible and reports littered the intelligence estimates that OBL was “determined to attack within the US” during the summer of 2001. Richard Clarke, in his book Against All Enemies, is the only high ranking official to come clean on the handling of this information and gives a first-hand account of why and when action could have been taken. The facts can only be fleshed out by people who were actually there. Clarke maintains that the Bush administration disbanded the OBL unit and began to pull back the human intelligence and signal intelligence resources dedicated to al Qaeda surveillance.

The myth that Clarke is a partisan Bush-basher was also addressed by Clinton, who pointed out that Clarke served Reagan, George H.W. Bush and then Clinton before being demoted by George W. Bush when the anti-terror priorities changed in early 2001. Clarke is a dedicated government bureaucrat who has served the US in various capacities under several administrations. Why read books by journalists when there's one out there written by the former head of the OBL unit of the National Security Administration?

Was Clarke just covering his ass by coming out early with his account after the tragedy of 9/11? That would hold water if the 9/11 Commission hadn't corroborated many of the facts asserted by Clarke. If the 9/11 Commission Report can't be read in its entirety, then at least read Chapter 8, entitled “The System was Blinking Red”, which is a must read for any responsible citizen. Anyone who can read that chapter and not flesh out that Bush, with his 4 week vacation in August and his priority of getting big tax cuts for the wealthy, dropped the ball on OBL, needs to re-evaluate their reading comprehension skills.

I think Clinton's surmise of Chris Wallace was perfect and I was heartened that someone finally called out Fox News for their partisan bias. Clinton asked why nobody from the Bush administration was ever asked about the USS Cole, and Wallace tried to hedge that “a lot of questions were asked”, but Clinton rightfully pressed him: “but not that one.” Indeed, so why was it asked of Clinton, because of Wallace's intellectual curiosity? The investigation, completed in 2001, clearly has been ignored by our government and media.

Wallace is trying to frame the coming election with "Clinton missed bin Laden, so Democrats cannot be trusted in the War on Terrah (TM)", and Clinton nipped that crap in the bud. I saw it as a controlled, calculated response that Clinton the politician planned long ago. And, as the kids say, Wallace got owned. I realize that Bush and Fox apologists won't see it that way, but who cares? Anybody so deficient to have voted for Bush is probably also too cataleptic to squeeze the remote hard enough to change the cable station over to Olbermann.

It was refreshing to see someone call out Wallace for his intellectual dishonesty, even if the reality set in afterward that Fox News remains unfazed when their website published this picture:

...and Fox has higher ratings than any other cable news outlet. Is that a respectful “fair and balanced” way to portray a former President by a responsible news outlet?

I've said this before: history will be extremely harsh to George W. Bush, and by proxy his personal media outlet, Fox News. Unnecessary wars which lead to accelerating terror will be the legacy of our current president and the press outlets have enabled such repetitive miscalculation. The next generations will pay for all the boondoggles initiated under the current leadership.

I have compassion for citizens who voted for Bush, especially in the last election when it was clear to every informed citizen that Bush is an idiot who has mismanaged our government. I have compassion for these citizens who feel that the mere act of voting fulfills their responsibility, not giving heed to the consequences of a poorly cast ballot.

Mostly, I have compassion for our nation, which is at the mercy of its collective delusional fears that are skillfully stoked by political operatives, like Wallace, whose cynical misinformation permeates our society. Our higher senses have been dulled by the constant drone of partisan derision, so much so that we fail to recognize the subtleties of targeted questions on pseudo-news shows. We have become a nation of hair-trigger limbic systems reacting only at gut level and mistaking it for responsibly informed citizenship.

Whither Orwell?

1 comment:

Delilah said...

Ah well, with or without Fox spinning Clinton's perfomance as "crazed", apparently his words and stance seemed to have resonated with the American people. A Gallup poll just showed that a majority of Americans blame Bush (53%) for failing to capture Bin Laden, compared with 36% who blame Clinton. I bet that 36% are the delusional base who will believe in their boy Bush, no matter what. The rest of us seem to realize that while we got bogged down in the optional war in the wrong country, the people who really were responsible for 9/11 are still out there. Truly, even as I write these words, the fury I feel over this can't fully be expressed.