It seems as if the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy has come out of the closet. The VRWC, a shadowy entity first discovered by Hillary Clinton in 1998, which apparently planned and executed her husband’s sexual peccadilloes, has emerged once again to bedevil her spouse. Now as before, the VRWC is faulted for his bad behavior; this time they caused him to throw a full-blown temper tantrum in front of the nation.
Leading the charge was Chris Wallace — a GOP partisan hack so foul, he was allowed to roam the newsrooms of NBC and ABC for decades — whose interview with Bill Clinton touched off the eruption. He asked the former president why he didn’t “do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business” when he was president. Given that President Bush has been harangued for this for his entire five years in office, it only seemed fair that Clinton answer this question.
Not so, according to my colleagues on the other side of the political spectrum. They contend that Clinton was “sandbagged” by the question–a question that has not only been on the lips of everyone in D.C. for years, but spawned a seemingly permanent commission to investigate it. Yet, as in the case of E.J Dionne’s rollicking defense of Clinton’s outburst, the real culprit is finally revealed (emphasis mine):
By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right. The conservative movement understands the political value of controlling the interpretation of history. Now its control is finally being contested.
Now for a group to attempt to spread propaganda truly worthy of distorting history, one would assume its authors would need to control a majority of huge media outlets, have dominion over the educational system and be able to insinuate its ideas into the beliefs of the mainstream historical academy. The view that this is possible by the Bushies does in itself constitute a worthy attempt of this kind.
Obviously unable in five, long years to find any criticism of the Bush Administration on any over-the-air networks and most cable ones, the majority of major newspapers, all public broadcast systems, on the floors of Congress, from many universities, and the lips of nearly every movie, TV and music personality, Mr. Dionne laments:
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.
If Mr. Dionne and friends constitute such sober and moderate opinion, this silence, if it actually existed, would have been truly golden. But next to flamethrowers like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, they actually do seem moderate. Olbermann, in a screed outrageous even for him, referred to Chris Wallace as, “a monkey posing as a newscaster”; his employers as “a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit”; and the interview “the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired–but a propagandist, promoted.”
How refreshing that this reasoned critique was able to sneak by the Bush censors and into the national debate. Olbermann then went on to say that Bush’s behavior: “hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the Executive.” But we weren’t left to guess which president embodies those qualities for him, as he gushed over the impeached one, even invoking the memory of our 16th president (though not his revocation of habeas corpus rights for all Americans during the Civil War):
Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862: “We must disenthrall ourselves — and then, we shall save our country.” And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date, to save our country.
Olbermann and others have opined that Clinton’s outburst came just at the right time; that his party needed an act of inspiration from its erstwhile superstar. As if seething lefties who’ve been foaming at the mouth since the 2000 election needed a kick in the pants in order to spew out more conspiracy theories concerning Bush and the VRWC.
Bill Clinton may have been on the receiving end of some irrational hatred from the right in his day, but it has always been his reaction to it that is unsettling in a world leader. Yet unlike Olbermann, Dionne and Clinton himself, President Bush is uninterested, or disenthralled if you like, from the constant navel-gazing as to who is to blame for 9/11 or what his legacy will be.
He knows who is to blame for 9/11: bloodthirsty savages who kill in the name of religion and power without regard to political affiliation. As for his legacy, it will depend on the outcome of our War on Terror, a conflict that requires steely determination, moral certitude and quiet confidence; qualities in a leader that, with or without any goading from the VRWC, seem sorely lacking in his predecessor.