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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, June 05, 2006

McIlheran Watch: Blame Clinton First

There was a bit of a running joke among liberal blogs a few years ago about The Clenis™. The joke was that Republicans, eager to distract from all the bad things happening on their watch, would blame Bill Clinton--since, as we all know, Clinton's rhymes with "eenis" was the worst thing ever to happen to this country in general and the desk in the Oval Office in particular.

Economy slow? Clinton's fault. Terrorists attack despite a warning that "Bin Laden [is] Determined to Attack Inside United States"? Clinton. Military not prepared for an overextension into Afghanistan and Iraq? Bill did it.

The defense--but thankfully not the joke--has continued to be in fashion among Republicans. Sometimes, for example, you have to speak slowly when trying to explain that, no, Clinton never violated FISA or spied on Americans for national security purposes without a warrant. It doesn't stop them from trying, but I figure that the more often I get the truth out there, the more likely it is one or two will see the light.

Which brings us to one of my favorite dark-dwellers, Patrick McIlheran. I've let him off easy lately (you may have noticed that things slowed down here for a while), but his recent blogging offers up not one but two sad attempts at Blame Clinton First. If I were extra snarky, I'd say something about how his CDS (Clinton Derangement Syndrome) clouds his judgment, but, since I'm on a diet, I have to leave the extra snark alone.

Last night, in a commentary on the Wen Ho Lee lawsuit settlement, McIlheran says,
Truly, with every day we see new evidence of our government’s abuse of civil liberties.

Just last Friday we learned that the feds will pay a former nuclear weapons scientist $895,000 because the feds blabbed to newsmen that the scientist was being investigated for spying, which he was, though it appears he didn’t spy after all. [. . .] What has our country come to? Or, rather, what had it come to – I use past tense since the false accusation of spying against Wen Ho Lee took place in 1999, long before the dark era of George W. Bush ever began. The feds held Lee in solitary for nine months long before the oppressive John Ashcroft ever seized power at the Department of Justice, long before Dick Cheney ensconced himself at a secret location.
He's a little circumspect there, not actually using the C-word in his attempts to distract us from the current administration's questionable civil liberties practice, but he lays the groundwork for a Blame Clinton First defense pretty clearly.

He followed that post up with another one this afternoon, in which the naughty C-word slips from his fingertips:
My point was that Mr. Lee will be paid big bucks by you, dear taxpayer, because your government abused his civil rights — during the Clinton administration.
There it is. Makes you want to giggle a little, no?

This is because trying to blame the abuse of Wen Ho Lee's civil liberties--and the media's slander of the man, which caused the rest of the $1.6 million settlement--on Clinton would be like blaming a cancer patient for getting a tumor. Eric Boehlert sets us straight (my emphasis):
I wonder what Notra Trulock makes of last week's news? A discredited former Energy Department intelligence officer who often came across as a Clinton-hating dittohead, Trulock served as a key government source throughout the Lee witch hunt. (The charges against Lee crumbled in court after Lee had already spent 278 days in solitary confinement.) Trulock was the source some news organizations didn't want to reveal in court and the man who led key reporters around by their noses, spinning fantastic tales about Lee's diabolical deeds; half-baked tales that were often faithfully retold in the pages of the most important newspapers in America. Read: The New York Times. Last week's settlement might have included five news organizations--ABC News, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post--but the Wen Ho Lee saga has always been about the woeful conduct of the Times and its embarrassing reliance on someone like Trulock who wielded such an obvious partisan ax as he chased after Lee, and by extension the Clinton administration, which Trulock argued was somehow protecting Lee's espionage.
Got it? The Clinton Administration didn't destroy Wen Ho Lee; a Clinton-hater destryoed Wen Ho Lee in order to destroy Clinton.

Maybe someday we'll learn that General Hayden, a principal architect of Bush's program to eavesdrop on Americans without the legally required warrant, is just a Bush-hater out to take down Bush, like that Trulock fellow . . .

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