The Fox News Clinton Interview

I watched Chris Wallace's interview of Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday earlier tonight. In my opinion, Clinton didn't come off very well. The more he talked about how hard he tried to take out Osama bin Laden during his presidency, the less credible he was, and the finger-wagging just brought back the whole "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" vibe.

The hard fact is that he had numerous opportunities to take out bin Laden and didn't do so. His administration wasn't serious about Islamic terrorism, any more than the preceding administrations going back to Jimmy Carter were. Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton: All were guilty of fecklessness to a greater or lesser degree. However, the political will was not there to deal with Islamic terrorism; the American people wouldn't have supported a major war to stamp it out, prior to 9/11. Indeed, even after 3000 people were murdered on 9/11, there still is a significant portion of the American people who won't support the war on terrorism, because their enemy isn't foreign terrorists but rather the current Republican administration. And that, truly, is a problem. Those who feel more in common with Hugo Chavez than George W. Bush should probably take a good, hard look at themselves, not that it would likely do them any good.

Carter and Reagan, and to a lesser extent Bush 41, at least had the excuse that Islamic terrorism was a secondary priority because the top priority was dealing with the Soviet Union. From 1946-1991, that was the number one foreign policy issue: Containing the Russians. Clinton didn't have that excuse. Instead, he was holding down the no-fly zones in Iraq and conducting a bombing campaign in the Balkans, while trying to deal with the domestic scandals brought on by his personal peccadillos. He was standing on the beach, facing the wrong way as the tsunami approached, and he didn't even see it coming. But the rest of us didn't see it either. Our "holiday from history" mentality wouldn't let us take seriously the "declaration of war" on us by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.

And so the Towers fell.

Like a lot of people, I don't really care about pointing fingers of blame about what happened prior to 9/11. EVERYBODY dropped the ball, and nobody is blameless. What I care about is where we've gone since 9/11, and what we are doing to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Clinton's self-aggrandizing defensiveness doesn't help.