On getting your enemies...
Of note today, Paul Krugman in the Times pulls together a lot of threads that have been a bit troubling. In the play Lady Macbeth tells her husband not to worry - just get some sleep, because "sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care." Well these loose threads will still be loose after any number of naps. And when awake, one notices such things.
See This Isn't America
Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Krugman opens with this:
Now that is funny! And this is our ally. The implication is the game is over. The whole world is onto us- as in the title of the Sartre play, Les Jeux Son Fait.
Krugman's point is that the administration's reaction to Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies provides more evidence of "something rotten in the state of our government." Yeah, echo Hamlet, Paul.
Krugman contends that among experts, what Clarke says about Mr. Bush's terrorism policy isn't controversial. The facts that terrorism was placed on the back burner before 9/11 and that Mr. Bush blamed Iraq despite the lack of evidence are confirmed by many sources - including Bush at War, by Bob Woodward. That's the book I called a puff piece recently. And Krugman cites sources other than Clarke (and Paul O'Neill) saying Bush had a Jones for Saddam Hussein and Iraq that keep us from being overly worried about Al Qaeda and all that state-free terrorism stuff. Yes, yesterday in USA Today you get stuff like this - "In 2002, troops from the Fifth Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures."
So, if the facts Clarke brings up, facts other sources confirm, cannot be disputed, the mode becomes character assassination.
How does the press handle this? Here's Krugman:
Yes, I see today all over the net the rumblings are out there that Clarke is secretly a homosexual. Well, Bob Novak and Ann Coulter have already started the campaign to call him a racist who hates black folks, particularly black women. ( See Public Relations and Political Gain - Getting the Tone Right for that.)
But is it really wrong for Bush and his crew to use its control of the government to intimidate potential critics? Senator Bill Frist suggests that Clarke may have committed perjury and wonders if previous testimony to congress should be declassified to see if this is so. Clarke says fine, declassify it all. Ha! But then this from NBC News -
Yeah, cut and paste is much more fair. Skip the silly context, rearrange the sequence and shuffle the words. Pretty blatant, but folks will love it. It's what this gay racist queen deserves? Maybe so.
Krugman points out that this perjury business reminds folks of the White House's reaction to revelations by the former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: an immediate investigation into whether he had revealed classified information. He didn't. The best they could come up with is that the stuff SHOULD have been classified but, well, really wasn't. Paul implicitly SHOULD have thought about that - damned traitor! And yes, Krugman is right - the "alacrity with which this investigation was opened was, of course, in sharp contrast with the administration's evident lack of interest in finding out who leaked the identity of the CIA operative Valerie Plame to Bob Novak."
Oh well. The leak was a felony. So what? They'll get around to that issue later.
Anything else, Paul?
Yeah, yeah. That's politics. Terrorism is more important.
Krugman gives us this:
Hey, you don't mess with John Ashcroft. John Ashcroft says his only king is Jesus. The two of them make a team you don't want to pick a fight with.
Krugman asks where this will all end and quotes John Dean (remember him from Watergate?) in his new book Worse Than Watergate - "I've been watching all the elements fall into place for two possible political catastrophes, one that will take the air out of the Bush-Cheney balloon and the other, far more disquieting, that will take the air out of democracy."
But not if we sleep through it all.