But now we could have greetings cards - "You know, _________ was not my fault at all, but really the fault of _________." You just fill in the blanks and drop it in the mail. Cards purchased by Republicans would have the second blank already filled in, with Bill Clinton's name. Cards for purchased by Democrats would have, in that space, George Bush or Dick Cheney. The graphics present a problem, of course. What best conveys "You're a fool and have it all wrong?" A smirking Garfield-the-Cat, for the Democrats who send a card? Jesus sitting on a rock, head in hands, weeping, for Republican posters? Einstein shrugging in disgust, for the Libertarians? Ralph Nader grinning, for the anarchists to send? Hallmark can work out the details.
But this particular Tuesday it wasn't greeting cards. Someone was to blame for North Korea testing their first nuclear weapon, especially after the president had vowed for several years he'd never let that happen. North Korea was a charter member of the Axis of Evil, and those three nations were top priority. The test may have been a fake or a failure, but that was hardly the point, as David Sanger of the New York Times points out -
Yep, it's a mess. So it was time for finger-pointing, and not with greeting cards.
You can click here (Crooks and Liars, the database of record) for a video clip of Republican Senator John McCain publicly declaring the whole business was Bill Clinton's fault (in Windows Media Player or QuickTime format). The man was weak.
Or you can get the gist from Reuters -
We should have hit them with a really big stick back in the late nineties - carpet bombing or something nuclear of our own. Yeah, they would have wiped out several hundred thousand of the folks in South Korea and tens of thousands of our guys stationed there - but they wouldn't have the bomb now. Actually he just says Clinton should have spent a couple hundred billion or two on an anti-missile system, so Bush wouldn't have to be futzing around with one now that doesn't even work yet. The man was just weak, and stupid.
Of course, not shopping for any greeting card, Hillary Clinton shoots back -
So THERE, you fool.
There must be an election coming up.
But there's more -
So the logic is that they never had a bomb on Clinton's watch, and on Bush's watch they do. Who's the bigger fool, as if it matters now?
And then there's this curious exchange on CNN's Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer goading Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -
Oops - she didn't get the White House memo about Mutual Recrimination Day. Karl Rove will have to spank her (no, get that image out of your mind right now, pervert).
And it went on -
Well, they did call them more names. That's something.
Anne Gearan of the Associated Press tries to detangle all this here (emphases added) -
Okay, the idea is North Korea wants to set up a confrontation with the United States and direct talks would be foolish - that gives them what they want. Se we insisted on talks "only in the awkward company of four other nations" - they get no chance to play the heroic David to our mean and stupid Goliath. South Korea, Japan, China and Russia are sitting there, so that's not possible. Well, it's a theory.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, our top negotiator for North Korea - "The North Koreans would like to make this about the United States, and I prefer that the Chinese and the South Koreans and the Japanese are saying the same thing to the North Koreans today that we are saying."
Fine, but North Korea just won't attend any six-way talks now, and haven't for a year or more, and they just worked on the bomb instead. So much for that theory. Six years ago Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first ranking US official to meet with Kim Jong Il. And what was going on then?
In any event, the AP item reviews all the events since then - Colin Powell saying we'd continue the Clinton face-to-face approach, as that held great promise, the South Koreans cheering, then Powell being publicly rebuked by the president and having to eat his words. He was humiliated and the South Korean government embarrassed, and voters changed things there. Cool.
And now Colin Powell gets his revenge, sort of. Heather Wilson, from New Mexico, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee and a retired Air Force officer, comes out and says this - "I feel strongly that there is nothing wrong with straight, tough talk with countries that are not our friends. I think that there is an argument that says doing this in a bilateral way sends a much stronger message."
So Powell sighs and old-fashioned one-on-one diplomacy - even with Iran and Syria - is being urged by all sorts of folks, even James Baker, Bush's father's man and head of the Iraq Study Group. The AP notes - "Drawing a bright line against engagement with bad guys has the value of purity. But it also leaves little room to negotiate - there is no fallback position and any shifting of position, as US. did earlier this year on Iran, risks being painted as capitulation."
Yep. You get painted into a corner - but you are pure, of course.
And there's the damned logic of the facts, as Josh Marshall points out here -
But what about purity? Doesn't that count for something? About thirty percent of the electorate still thinks so.
And then there's this final kick in the teeth, from Iran, of the original Axis of Evil -
Ouch. That hurts.
But at least the war in Iraq is going well, or not as badly as folks say, or you have to look a the long-term big picture and see that even if it's tough now it really is a fine war, or something.
Except there's this -
Eighty-three percent? Yipes. This requires a massive PR blitz.
And there's staunchly pro-war Ralph Peters in the New York Post saying things like this -
Well, aside from the fact a whole lot of our guys have died in the last three years to postpone a political embarrassment (think about it), Kevin Drum suggests here we may have a different strain of conservatism that's also soured on the war -
The festivities of National Mutual Recrimination Day were in full swing.
And it was hard on that day to not see something was wrong, whoever you sent the card to, as in this -
And there was this -
And there was this -
Some recriminations for getting us into this, and for almost four years of things on the ground getting worse by the hour, might be in order. Do you have to trust your president that things just aren't this bad? Or do you send the card?
Maybe it's just the press. They report the bad news. They're ruining things.
See Jane Arraf, NBC's Baghdad correspondent, here -
Any recriminations in order?
And what about this, from a Baghdad blog, on the sectarian murder of a family friend -
Any recriminations in order? Or does this kid just not understand what Secretary Rice called the birth-pangs of a new Middle East?
Okay, let's not think about it. Let's think about the recent sex scandal in the House. The leadership knew about the predator and did nothing? Oh my. These guys are the "values" people. What up with that?
Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews discuss that on MSNBC here (Crooks and Liars, the database of record) - in Windows Media Player or QuickTime format -
Major recriminations coming. As they say on the battlefield - INCOMING!
On the other hand, Cliff Kincaid, of Accuracy in Media, has a different thought. The "values people" - Hastert, DeLay, Cunningham - are just fine. But they've been had - "House leaders permitted homosexuals to infiltrate and manipulate the party apparatus while they publicly postured as friends of family values and traditional marriage. The facade is now in ruins."
Ah, those sneaky gay guys with the show tunes and all - they corrupted the good guys. The evangelical Family Research Council says the same thing here - a gay Republican cabal is secretly blocking the religious right agenda on Capitol Hill. They got to Hastert, poor fellow.
Hastert got the message and had a private prayer meeting - one on one with one of the godly, and evangelical preacher who Josh Marshall points out here was once caught faking his own leper colony for fun and profit - the same guy who "takes credit for getting Charles Taylor to step down as Liberian dictator and other international hat tricks."
What can you say to that? "You know, _________ was not my fault at all, but really the fault of _________." How do you even begin to fill in the blanks?
The November election will be about filling in all the blanks in all these items.