The G.O.P's Odd Clinton Defense
Here's a defense you are not likely to hear uttered by a future white collar defendant:
Even Ken Lay and others at Enron thought these accounting methods were acceptable . Even the highly trained people at Tyco thought it was ok to act this way.
A sane defendant would probably be upset if they heard their attorneys or their PR people offer up such an odd defense. Maybe they would sue for malpractice.
Yet, many in the GOP are now defending Bush on Iraq-WMD intelligence, not by arguing the use of Bush's intelligence reports (that's phase ll), nor by explaining the WMD revelations (UNSCOM, Kay, Deulfer).
Rather, many in the GOP are now defending Bush by referencing things said by ... the Clinton's.
You are beginning to hear many in the GOP now cite things that Bill Clinton and members of his administration said that seem to resemble arguments later made by Bush and Cheney.
Leave aside, for the moment, the fact that the statements they quote from the Clinton team were out of date, following the revelations from the UN inspectors. Leave aside the fact they are out of context. Leave aside the fact that there was no invasion of Iraq in the 1990s.
It matters not what you think of Clinton and his team. You may or you may not like them. Forget about what you think. Rather, think about what you know.
You know what the GOP thinks of Clinton and his adminstration. Knowing that, why would Republicans cite Clinton to defend Bush? It's just an odd defense.
Most Republicans, and some Democrats, believed Clinton was less than honest about everything when he was office. Whatever Clinton's virtues, candor and honesty were never thought to be at the top of the list. Republicans were particularly distrustful for Clinton when it came to national security issues.
In fact, when Clinton pulled the inspectors out of Iraq and launched Operation Desert Fox, in the face of robust dissent, many prominent Republicans thought he was "wagging the dog."
Also, many Republicans even thought Clinton signed onto the "Iraqi Liberation Act," so as to distract from Lewinsky woes. Was that true? Who knows? Probably not. Yet, It's almost impossible to know.
The absence of evidence was never the evidence of absence of Clintonian guilt in the mind of many Republicans. What now counts is that many in the GOP thought those may have been Clinton's motives.
If you thought Clinton might have acted this way, why would you use him as some sort of touchstone of credibility to buttress the arguments of President Bush?
Was not Bush supposed to restore the honor and dignity to the Oval Office that was lost under Clinton?
While it's easy to suspect politicians lie, it is often very hard to know that they are.
Yet, it's easy to know that many Republicans thought Clinton was lying.
Republicans, in general, thought Clinton was lying when he opened his mouth and spoke. Even if you thought Clinton told the truth, you know that many of the Republicans who are now citing Clinton to vouch for Dubya never thought Clinton told the truth.
It's almost funny. It took many Republicans two decades after the respective deaths of Truman and Kennedy, before they put aside their well documented disdain for both of them, and tried to co-opt their legacy as being sympathetic to the modern GOP.
Now they are reduced to using Clinton, while he is still around, to buttress arguments for Bush.
Maybe they are angry and have not thought this thru. Maybe they will now use Clinton's words to claim the need to change social security. Actually, they just did that and failed in the effort.
Did Clinton corrupt the Oval Office? That question can be debated endlessly. Did Clinton corrupt the GOP? Turn on the TV and read the paper and judge for yourself. Is the GOP becoming what they once disdained?
Probably there are all sorts of theoretical defenses that could be emplyed on behalf of Enron or Tyco. If we were lawyers maybe we could think of them. Even so, it would be very odd to point to them as exemplars of business ethics.
Clinton has his defenders and they will defend every comment he made or they will put them into context. Yet It's odd to see the GOP do this by citing Clinton to defend Bush. Very odd.