Thursday, November 17, 2005

Undermining the War Effort

Bill Clinton just can't keep his mouth shut. The Washington Post reports on his remarks at a forum at the American University of Dubai:
Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done.

It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country
In case you're hoping this was just a throw-away line, the Post says that the "response drew cheers and a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long session."


Yes, this is just what we need in the middle of a war, an ex-president telling a foreign audience that the biggest and most controversial part of the War on Terror was a mistake.

I was listening to a radio show driving home from work and the host related that the speech was being broadcast all around the Arab world. I've no doubt that if it isn't already it will be soon.

Why was it Wrong?

It was wrong because we have a tradition in this country whereby once a president is out of office he refrains from commenting on his successors. We have this tradition because the words of an ex-president carry a lot of weight. The current president should be free from second-guessing by ex-presidents. It is distracting and unwarranted.

Most ex-presidents have honored this tradition. Jimmy Carter sometimes violates it, but for years he stayed silent, and I give him credit for that.

Why Bill Clinton?

Because he's in love with himself, that's why. He loves the adoration that he gets from cheering crowds. He lives for attention.

Dick Morris has a different theory. I was listening to him on the radio this afternoon (Sean Hannity show), and he said that it was part of the Clinton's strategy to get Hillary elected. Bill would speak from the left, pandering to the anti-war crowd, while Hillary would continue to support the war but say that Bush had made a mess of it. Well, maybe. It sounds a bit Byzantine, but the Clintons are a pretty calculating pair.

Either way, don't look for liberals to denounce Clinton, though this is one think on which I would dearly like to be wrong. If anyone sees comments by prominent Democrats or liberals criticizing Clinton please post them in the comments.

Look, if he'd made these comments to a small audience here at home, then no big deal. But it is simply inappropriate to say such things to a large audience, at home or abroad.

The New York Post chastises Clinton in an editorial published today:
It has long been accepted that former presidents do not publicly criticize their successors, particularly when it comes to foreign policy; certainly the first President Bush held his tongue when it came to judging Clinton's dubious foreign-policy performance.

To be sure, Jimmy Carter violated that pact long ago — but then, he'd been hungrily campaigning for a Nobel Peace Prize, the first requirement of which is a solid record of America-bashing.

(A failed president himself, he was uniquely qualified for that task. Now that he's been given the award, he has a new book to flog.)

As for Clinton — well, his wife is pretty clearly running for president, an unprecedented situation. She's been talking particularly tough on terrorism — but what does it mean?

Look for Bill and Hillary to put together a political tag-team act in the months and years ahead, with Bill playing bad cop in sticking it to the current president while the New York senator adopts a more "statesmanlike" — that is, presidential — approach.
Now, for a real bit of fun, go to Google and type in "clinton iraq 1998" and see what you get (hat tip Bryan Preston, guest blogging for Michelle Malkin).