Friday, September 29, 2006

Quote of the day: E. J. Dionne Jr. looks at the implications of Bill Clinton's refusal to stand by any longer while the Far Right rewrites history


"To this day I remain astonished at [Rush] Limbaugh's gall [writing in a 10/4/2001 WSJ op-ed piece, "If we're serious about avoiding past mistakes and improving national security, we can't duck some serious questions about Mr. Clinton's presidency"]--and at his shrewdness. Republicans were arguing simultaneously that it was treasonous finger-pointing to question what Bush did or failed to do to prevent the attacks, but patriotic to go after Clinton. Thus did they build up a mythology that cast Bush as the tough hero in confronting the terrorist threat and Clinton as the shirker. Bad history. Smart politics."
--E. J. Dionne Jr., in his Washington Post column today, "Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back"

After reviewing the familiar history of the post-9/11 period, when the country, including most Democrats, was in a mood for bipartisanship, and the Bush administration instead pursued a campaign of extremist ideological partisanship as savage, ruthless, uncompomising and dishonest as anything in the history of this country (well, that's my characterization, not his), Dionne focuses on former President Clinton's now-famous TV confrontation Sunday with that pathetic, useless hack Chris Wallace:
My canvassing of Clinton insiders suggests two things about his outburst on "Fox News Sunday." First, he did not go into the studio knowing he would do it. There was, they say, a spontaneity to his anger. But, second, he had thought long and hard about comparisons between his record on terrorism and Bush's. He had his lines down pat from private musing about how he had been turned into a punching bag by the right. Something like this, one adviser said, was bound to happen eventually.

Sober, moderate opinion will say what sober, moderate opinion always says about an episode of this sort: Tut tut, Clinton looked unpresidential, we should worry about the future, not the past, blah, blah, blah.

But sober, moderate opinion was largely silent as the right wing slashed and distorted Clinton's record on terrorism. It largely stood by as the Bush administration tried to intimidate its own critics into silence. As a result, the day-to-day political conversation was tilted toward a distorted view of the past. All the sins of omission and commission were piled onto Clinton while Bush was cast as the nation's angelic avenger. And as conservatives understand, our view of the past greatly influences what we do in the present.

A genuinely sober and moderate view would recognize that it's time the scales of history were righted. Propagandistic accounts need to be challenged, systematically and consistently. The debate needed a very hard shove. Clinton delivered it.

And it appears that the former president's shove may be having effects. Fox News itself has been surprisingly defensive, beginning with its hissy-fit ordering of the interview clip off of YouTube, and continuing with the retreat by Fox spokespeople to the position that it was "an overreaction" on the part of their Internet department. Even more entertaining is the latest psycho-Right response: accusing the former president of "feigning" anger. So his response would have been OK if he was really angry, but since he was only pretending, it's . . . uh . . . he was . . . er . . .

Hey, we only report this stuff. We don't try to explain it. (Well, we try sometimes, but we don't always succeed.)

ALSO TALKING--Roger Ailes sticks up for his "respectful reporter"

''If you can't sit there and answer a question from a professional, mild-mannered, respectful reporter like Chris Wallace, then the hatred for journalists is showing.''

--Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, in an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday

And of course who knows more about respect for journalism than the master of Fox News? (MediaMatters has a useful comment on the Ailes imbecilities.)

The next time anyone on Fox News is caught committing journalism, stuff the creature and send it to the Smithsonian.


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

You have a wonderful way of putting things. Glad I linked over from FDL. I'll be bookmarking your site.

At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I am actually watching MSNBC these days which is so entirely weird since I have not watched a news commentary show for years since the idiot in chief took office.

Even Chris Matthews is holding feet to the fire. He is not letting them get away with their talking points or their nonsensical statements. I have to say that I am having a great time watching this.


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