In recent years, the Democrats have violated many of the tacit conventions of civility that have enabled our political system to work for more than two centuries. Yesterday another barrier fell, and once again, we entered uncharted waters: former President Bill Clinton launched a vicious attack on President Bush on ABC's "This Week" program.
This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. Consistent with that belief, former Presidents of both parties have stayed out of politics and have avoided criticizing their successors. Until now. The Democrats appear bent on destroying every element of the fabric that has united us as Americans.
Clinton's vicious attack is even worse in the context of his wife's Presidential bid: it is fair to assume that he was motivated not only by partisanship, but by his own desire to re-occupy the White House, and, most likely, wield once more the levers of power.
Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."
This attack was false in every respect. The invasion of Iraq had the support of dozens of nations. The UN's inspections could never be "completed," but the UN itself had reported that large quantities of WMDs remained unaccounted for. On the other hand, Clinton's suggestion that there was "no real urgency" about the situation in Iraq was probably sincere, as it typified Clinton's approach to terrorism: he perceived no urgency after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, or after al Qaeda's attempt to simultaneously destroy a dozen American airplanes over the Pacific in 1995; or after the attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998; or after Saddam's attempt to assassinate former President Bush; or after Saddam repeatedly tried to shoot down American aircraft; or after the Cole bombing in 2000; or after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and converted it into a training ground for anti-American mass murderers; or after any number of other provocations. So, naturally, Clinton saw no urgency with respect to dealing with Saddam's regime. Of course, had Saddam facilitated a post-9/11 attack on the U.S. using chemical or biological weapons, you can imagine how harshly Clinton would have criticized Bush for his lack of foresight.
Clinton's assertion that there was "no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction" is a flat-out lie. The Consensus Estimate of the American intelligence agencies has been made public, and we have quoted from it and linked to it on many occasions. America's intelligence agencies said, with a "high degree of confidence," that Saddam possessed both chemical and biological weapons. These were the same intelligence reports that Clinton received as President, so he is well aware of them. His statement was not a mistake, it was a lie.
Clinton goes on:
Clinton said there had been a "heroic but so far unsuccessful" effort to put together a constitution that would be universally supported in Iraq.
A ridiculous standard, of course. No nation has ever adopted a constitution that was "universally supported," least of all, our own.
The US strategy of trying to develop the Iraqi military and police so that they can cope without US support "I think is the best strategy. The problem is we may not have, in the short run, enough troops to do that," said Clinton.
Someone tell me: what did Clinton ever do, during his eight years in office, to build up America's armed forces or increase our power? He continues:
On Hurricane Katrina, Clinton faulted the authorities' failure to evacuate New Orleans ahead of the storm's strike on August 29.
People with cars were able to heed the evacuation order, but many of those who were poor, disabled or elderly were left behind.
"If we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out," Clinton.
Note that when Clinton faulted the "authorities," he meant the Bush administration--although, as AFP points out, he "agreed that some responsibility for this lay with the local and state authorities." In fact, the entire responsibility lay with state and local authorities. Here, Clinton is simply playing on the ignorance of his listeners--a time-honored Democratic tactic. And speaking of "buses lined up to take them out," readers of this site are well aware that buses were "lined up," and that the City of New Orleans' hurricane plan contemplated that those buses would be used to evacuate residents. But, due entirely to the incompetence and fecklessness of local authorities, hundreds of buses that were "lined up" were never used. Clinton knows this; again, he is baldly attempting to deceive his listening audience.
Clinton finished up with some budget commentary:
On the US budget, Clinton warned that the federal deficit may be coming untenable, driven by foreign wars, the post-hurricane recovery programme and tax cuts that benefitted just the richest one percent of the US population, himself included.
More lies. As Clinton well knows, the Bush tax cuts benefited all taxpayers. And by historical standards, the current deficit is relatively small as a proportion of GDP, and is dropping.
Again and again, President Bush has tried to work with the Democrats as if they were loyal Americans first, and partisans second. He has treated Bill Clinton with a friendship and respect that, candidly, is disproportionate to Clinton's meager accomplishments. Again and again, the Democrats have rebuffed Bush's overtures and taken advantage of his patriotism and good faith. Clinton's politically-motivated tissue of lies and distortions is just the latest example out of many. But it is unprecedented, coming from a former President. That is a sad thing: the latest wound inflicted on the body politic by the Democratic Party.
UPDATE: Reader Steve Tefft sends this Clinton quote from July 23, 2003:
[I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.
That was then, I guess; this is now. And 2008 is just a few short years away. So it's time, apparently, to revise the historical record.