Paul -- The recount may have been a turning point, but I would think it happened earlier. President Clinton's tenure was the milestone of the postmodern era, where it was no longer important what someone did or didn't do; How he played to the camera was what was most important. It was said that no Republican administration could get away with what his did, but what was most galling was that no administration prior to his would have ever dared behave like his, regardless of party. (You can make an argument for Carter, except his public diplomacy was a caricature of itself enough to quicken support for Our Ron.)
I mention this as a testament to spin, and the tactics Clinton employed in maintaining an upper hand, what he referred to as "triangulation." That was a clever word for what was actually a failure on his part to employ good policies or make the right decisions, leading him to use the press office more exclusively as his mode of effecting change. Now, having nourished on the massively entertaining show put on by the Altar Boy from Arkansas, liberal groups hate Bush for being everything Clinton was not -- moral (and not moralizing), confident (and not empathizing), and Republican.
So where does national security come in?
One of the most shocking aspects of Clinton's tenure was in the neglect of his draft-dodging. The apathy to that charge was symptomatic of a nescient media, and perhaps the populace in general about the Vietnam conflict and the "peace movement" (who am I kidding, I'm referring to the Kultursmog). There was little discussion about the state of our military in those years, particularly on Clinton's behalf who stumped on 3 major occasions about it: Don't Ask Don't Tell (which reflected on the military negatively), Kosovo (which had the appearance of an air show), and briefly, Iraq (coming amidst the height of the scandals). His attention was far more focused on making sure the Republicans would not ruin his legacy by impeaching him for only a few of the things he did that were impeachable.
While today, many Americans look at that period as The Time Republicans Went Too Far, what was really egregious was the way the President abused his power and manipulated the media, and the military, in order to beat his rap. With such a no-holds-barred approach, he set the precedent of "throw everything at them," and now, as though they were projecting their own flaws of yesteryear onto this presidency, they are undermining everything of value in our efforts, military or otherwise, around the globe.
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