2004-04-08 / View From the Middle

View From

The Middle
Richard Clarke
By Charles Rogers
View From The Middle By Charles Rogers

The Middle

Richard Clarke’s "Apology" Reinforced With Crocodile Tears

Richard Clarke’s hollow expressions of regret as he began his long testimony before the 9/11 commission, when he said, "I apologize to the victims of 9/11…Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you…" made great copy. Journalists and semi-journalists from all over ran for their laptops to record the words of the dapper former White House anti-terrorism chief as he uttered the insincere words, almost filling his own eyes with crocodile tears.

His dramatics worked, of course, and the members of the committee, the press and the public offered him an open door to accuse President Bush of almost bringing on the 9/11 debacle himself by ignoring all the warnings he (Clarke) had given be-fore the World Trade Center attack.

Say what you will about his testimony, but it was completely self-serving, whether by giving retribution to those with whom he had a falling out during the end of his tenure or by giving impetus to the sale of his recently-published book (the name of which I won’t give at this time — you can check it out when it comes out in paperback!).

One of the big problems I find with the testimony of Richard Clarke is that sometimes he was right. After all, he was the big gun in the anti-terrorism business for something like 12 years. Some testimony was accusatory and pretty well on the mark when it came to talking about the Bush administration. Then all of a sudden it was tempered considerably when he testified about the Clinton years, during which he also served. He said he recognized the terrorist threat in-the-making during both administrations but his warnings fell on relatively deaf ears when Bush came into office and chose Condoleeza Rice as his top security advisor. Although Clarke later — on talk shows ad infinitum and ad nauseum — protested such insinuations, it’s quite possible there were some sour grapes on the vine.

Mind you, everything Clarke said was Monday morning quarterbacking and, yes, cannot be completely refuted. He was smart (is), but also arrogant. It’s easy to see that, while he might have been right up there with the top dogs of Washington for more than a decade, he might not have been personally close to anyone; not exactly the kind of guy you want to go out and have a beer with. By his own demeanor, though, it’s obvious his job was not based on popularity.

The interviews, including those included in his testimony, seemed straightforward almost to a fault. However, there is that word innuendo, something we must not discard in this political year. Although Clarke said in many interviews that he will not describe himself as either Democrat or Republican at this time, his personal feelings against Bush and the GOP cannot be denied.

It would be very interesting to see which handle he pulls in the voting booth in November.

I’m taking bets it starts with a D.

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