I was truly disappointed by Don Rogers’ commentary of March 29. Its only saving grace was the utter cynicism with which he excoriated the critics of his evident idol George W.
Don’s complaints about Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill smack of knee-jerk reactions gleaned from conservative pundits and White House spinmeisters.
(Kids, here’s a hint! Anyone who starts a discussion with name calling probably has a pretty weak argument!)
Personally, I’ll settle for the character references of the four presidents who hired him (Clarke) to senior White House positions. Let’s not forget that right up until the minute that advance copies of his book hit the street, Mr. Clarke’s reputation for integrity and straight talk was unquestioned. Twelve hours later was a different story. That’s telling to any Washington observer.
One immutable rule about D.C. politics! A whistleblower’s credibility can be measured in direct proportion to the amount of vituperation with which his whistling is greeted. The more vicious the attack, the more senior the attackers; the more likely the information revealed is true and important. That’s common wisdom.
Clarke is disaffected. He’s just trying to sell a book. Hey! A book! That must automatically make any reasonable man willing to publicly lie, sacrifice his personal life and, commit a dozen felonies on public television! Lying to the Commision under oath carries the same penalties as lying to Congress. So much for common sense. Ideology makes idiots of us all, I guess.
Removing particular personalities from the equation: If you had to estimate the credibility of a retired civil servant (who served four administrations with publicly recognized distinction) who has a book out or a professional politician who has a re-election to a major office to win, which one would you be inclined to believe at the get go? Add in the indisputable fact that the politician has been seriously in error about some major issues (like war and its justifications, WMD, job formation, etc.) and to date, other than an assassinated character, Mr. Clarke remains largely undisputed on the issues (whew!), who has the leg up on credibility?
Mr. Rogers, had he picked up a phone and dialed 202 at any time in the past year, would have heard many of the same tales about Bush and his obsession with Iraq, as well as his relative disengagement on foreign policy prior to 9/11. This is not new news. Not even to the Daily.
O’Neill’s book came out two months ago. I don’t quite get why Mr. Rogers thinks that was so well-timed. Timed to what? And while we’re at it, Mr. Rogers, could you please explain to me why a wealthy and successful businessman like O’Neill would risk 30 years’ reputation to make a few dollars in royalties he sure doesn’t need? Maybe he’s just venal? Or maybe this is just another cheap shot? You know, like implying Clarke, a first-time author, made his publisher time his book’s release to the commission hearings. Right! A publisher obeying a one book author. By the way, why does that make his claims any less compelling? Either they are demonstrable or not. Simple! So why the cheap shot?
By the way Don, You’ve made it evident your forte isn’t geo-politics, but you must realize that any major geo-political event of any type would involve economics. The treasury secretary would have to be involved in just about everything. That’s why a guy like O’Neill would be likely to be privy to more info other than anyone except for Defense, State and NSA! Your somewhat snide suggestions that a treasury secretary would NOT be involved in discussions like these, and privvy to the information he claims, reflects more your own naivete than anything approximating likely reality. Economics is simply all pervasive in national and international policy.
Most importantly though, Don, you demonstrate a typical American perspective on Iraq. A foothold indeed! A “foothold” in the Middle East, particularly one gained by military force, simply fulfills the prophecies of Al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalists. Maybe we’d get away with it in the Middle Eastern mind had we attacked a country that didn’t have oil, but …! Foothold! Ha! More like an award winning recruitment poster for Islamic disaffected. What do you say, before we start making futuristic geopolitical extrapolations by those of us who know just about nothing about the subject, we wait 10 years and see if we shot ourselves in the foot or not? Your position on Iraq is no more than comfort food.
Don? Do you even know what a “Palestinian” is? Almost no one does, you know. And if aiding Palestinians is a rationale for invasion, then you got a really, real problem with Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Personally, I don’t think Clarke’s revelations about pre 9/11 are all that significant. “Of all the words of voice or pen, the saddest of all, are ‘might have been.'”
Clark’s real value to the citizenry is his account of how we got involved in the Iraq war. That’s far less speculative and much better documented. Why we diverted resources from the War on Terror to attack Iraq. How subject the president of the United States is to his own passions? Have we made things worse in the middle- and long-term by our policies? Translation: How many Americans will die in the Middle East in the next 10 years?”
These are questions worth answering. Believe me, NOT asking these questions and telling yourself you’re a loyal patriot by not doing so, like Daily commentators tend to do, simply aids and abets tragedy! Worse, of course, are the facile answers Daily commentators so blithely supply.
Regretfully, even our revered smalltown editor seems to have stopped thinking and reacted exactly as he was managed.
What if, just what if, Clarke really is an honest man? What does that mean? What if Clarke and O’Neill and all the whispers about Bush and Iraq are true? What does that mean? After all, some extraordinary young Americans may, just may, be dying for unacceptable reasons while we sit here and indulge our ideological passions. Just possibly. Considering the stakes, “possible” seems a good enough reason to ask questions.
Look! You got a treasury secretary who owned a sterling reputation right up until he wrote his book. Then he’s suddenly a nut? You got a senior White House adviser (for four administrations) who also owns a sterling reputation right up until his book hits the streets. Then he’s suddenly incredible. On the other side, you have a political machine whose entire campaign platform is at risk. One talks about issues. The other talks about things like “sellout” and other ad hominem stuff like Clarke’s arrogance for apologizing to the 9/11 families. Come on!
This column demonstrated neither the charm or thoughtfulness I’ve grown used to from Don Rogers. I suspect, in a week or two, he’ll be embarrassed by the quality of thought he showed here.
After reading his commentary today, you gotta wonder exactly who the sucker is.