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Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2001 / 21 Tishrei, 5762

Marc Berley

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Clinton still spinning a legacy -- BILL CLINTON just can't keep it shut. You know, his mouth - that spin machine bent on turning every circumstance into an opportunity for self-promotion. In his latest attempt to garner favorable interpretations of his past failures, Clinton has been indecorously unquiet about his own anti-terrorism efforts in the wake of the attacks of September 11th.

The loss of the spotlight has been hard for Clinton, especially now that it just got bright. As The New York Times' Richard L. Berke writes, Clinton is "described by friends as a frustrated spectator, unable to guide the nation through a crisis that is far bigger than anything he confronted in his eight-year tenure."

So there he was on stage next to Mayor Rudolf Guiliani at a New York City press conference, smiling and telling us what a good job everybody was doing. It was apparent that Clinton wasn't happy not to be doing anything. Nevertheless, though fumbling his tie and coat button in a way he never did as president, he availed himself of the microphone and cameras at his disposal. Trouble is, Clinton went on long, even for an ex-president at a mayoral press conference, and Guiliani aides had to get out the hook.

Clinton needed more. With Bush looking so big, Clinton, feeling so small, started talking about things he had no business talking about in order to make himself seem bigger.

As Lloyd Grove reports in the Washington Post, Clinton told prominent Democrat Saul Finkelstein that "in 1998, the U.S. Navy launched a series of cruise missile attacks" directed at Laden. According to Finkelstein, who repeated the conversation in an email to friends, Clinton said, "We missed him by an hour." The former president then offered this inappropriate tidbit: "the president can't say this, but' it will not be that difficult to get bin Laden…unlike in 1998."

Clinton's spin: I had it hard. President Bush has it easy.

Only Bill Clinton would attempt self-aggrandizement by confessing to failing to get a job done. But that how good at spin he thinks he is.

Now's the time for unity, but if Clinton wants to play the credit game, we had better follow him all the way to any deserved blame.

Clinton, according to Finkelstein, is out to show "that what happened on Sept. 11 could in no way be traced to some failure on his administration's part." That's apparent. But evidence suggests that Clinton did a lot worse than miss bin Laden by an hour, if in fact he really did.

Back in May of 2000, at a Capitol Hearing on international efforts to end discrimination against women, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) charged that the Clinton administration "stonewalled and blocked" attempts to attain documents "requested in order to determine what the policy of this administration toward the Taliban is."

That's right, Clinton stonewalled, not in a matter concerning Clinton's treatment of women but mistreatment of women internationally, and specifically by the Taliban.

Rohrbacher charged that the Clinton "administration has a covert policy of supporting the Taliban….The most gross violator of women's rights in the world today is the Taliban government in Afghanistan. And this administration's policies in regard to the Taliban have been disgraceful and deceitful to the American people."

Now former administration officials are speaking about the failures of the Clinton administration to fight terrorism. Nancy Soderberg, a former senior aide in Clinton's National Security Council, is unequivocal: "In hindsight, it wasn't enough, and anyone involved in policy would have to admit that."

Anyone but Clinton.

"Some in the capital," reports the Boston Globe, "are pointedly, though quietly, critical of Clinton's failure to elevate his actions toward his lofty [anti-terrorism] rhetoric."

With 6,000 people dead and more than that injured as a result of the September 11th attack, now's not the time for shamelessly trying to spin a legacy. Clinton ought to find the strength to be quiet now.

JWR contributor Marc Berley, president of the Foundation for Academic Standards & Tradition, is author of After the Heavenly Tune and co-editor of The Diversity Hoax. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Marc Berley