Thursday, March 25, 2004

Who Said What

You can’t swing a dead cat on the web today without running into somebody saying something about the 9/11 commission. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea for John Kerry to take a week off and let the hearings do their part to disassemble the Bush administration’s spin machine. But if you want to see what is being said, here’s a couple of places to look.

  • Fred Kaplan’s article in Slate.
  • Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo on Condi Rice being unavailable to testify and Fox News being the mouthpiece for the Bushies (wow, there’s a news flash).
  • Matthew Yglesias in TAPPED watches Scott McClellan revise history and listens to Lawrence Kaplan find the source of all evil in the universe – the Clinton Administration.
  • Dana Milbank in the Washington Post on Clarke being cool under fire. My favorite part is where former Illinois governor Jim Thompson tries to pull off the big gotcha:

    Shortly before the hearing, the White House violated its long-standing rules by authorizing Fox News to air remarks favorable to Bush that Clarke had made anonymously at an administration briefing in 2002. The White House press secretary read passages from the 2002 remarks at his televised briefing, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who has declined to give public testimony to the commission, called reporters into her office to highlight the discrepancy. “There are two very different stories here,” she said. “These stories can’t be reconciled.” … Thompson, a Republican member of the commission, took up the cause, waving the Fox News transcript with one hand and Clarke’s critical book in the other. “Which is true?” Thompson demanded, folding his arms and glowering down at the witness.

    Clarke, appearing unfazed by the apparent contradiction between his current criticism and previous praise, spoke to Thompson as if addressing a slow student.

    “I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the administration had done, and to minimize the negative aspects of what the administration had done,” he explained. “I’ve done it for several presidents.”

    With each effort by Thompson to highlight Clarke’s inconsistency — “the policy on Uzbekistan, was it changed?” — Clarke tutored the commissioner about the obligations of a White House aide. Thompson, who had far exceeded his allotted time, frowned contemptuously. “I think a lot of things beyond the tenor and the tone bother me about this,” he said. During a second round of questioning, Thompson returned to the subject, questioning Clarke’s “standard of candor and morality.”

    “I don’t think it’s a question of morality at all; I think it’s a question of politics,” Clarke snapped.

    As my students would say, “Burn!”

  • Check out my fellow members of TLC – I’m sure there’s a lot more cogent analysis and good quotes.