Will Dean Destroy the Democratic Party?

September 29, 2006

Full disclaimer. I never cared for Howard Dean. Not in the 2004 presidential primaries. Not as DNC chair. And no one has ever logically explained to me why they support his 50 State Strategy beyond the predictable “because it’s Howard Dean’s idea” response. At my local county party meetings, the chair of our organization stands and speaks glowingly of the plan, but doesn’t explain why he believes it is a good thing. On the internets, Democrats who believe winning this fall is more important than rebuilding the party in Alaska are attacked as party heretics for daring to defy the Dean.

Now I don’t discount the inherent value in planning for the long haul, but it should not take priority over the best shot we’ve had in 12 year to regain the House or Senate or both. And it should be obvious to anyone who has followed electoral politics for any reasonable amount of time that the tentacles of the majority party spread further and quicker than that of the minority party.

In other words, if we win in November, a 50 State Strategy will be all the more easy.

So why are some Democrats (die hard Howard Dean supporters) so gung ho to push ahead with his plan at the possible expense of losing in November? Because, as I said above, Howard Dean wants it. Can you imagine, though, how shrill the cries from the left would be if Hillary Clinton or Joe Lieberman implied losing an election would be acceptable if it meant we might win in 20 years?

The title of this post, while an attention grabber, is not meant to be taken literally. Of course Dean doesn’t want to destroy the party. He’d be out of a job if he did. But it isn’t to far fetched to believe he definitely has plans to remake the party, a prospect the New York Times will explore Sunday in a cover story by Matt Bai titled: “Is Howard Dean willing to destroy the Democratic Party in order to save it?”

In question is the contentious relationship Dean has had with DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel over allocating money to House races the Democrats have a chance at winning this November. Emanuel pressed for it and won. Dean didn’t want to, but gave in. Even with the cash infusion from Dean’s DNC, the GOP is planning to spend much more on these same races to prevent a Democratic takeover.

According to Sunday’s Times piece, Democrats in Washington are wondering just what Dean could be thinking. Does he really care about winning in November, or is he after something else? Some theorize Dean wants to preside over another failed Democratic run for the White House in 2008, setting him up for his own “grassroots” run in 2012, but Bai discounts that.

On the other side, of course, is Congressman Emanuel and Senator Charles Schumer – charged with winning the House and Senate for the Democrats in November. Great piece on them today in the WSJ. Here is an excerpt:

At midsummer, when House Republicans announced nationwide hearings to showcase their hard line against illegal immigration, the chairmen of the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees quickly took up the gauntlet. They assembled reporters and news cameras to promote a report documenting a decline in border enforcement actions under the Bush administration.

“If congressional Republicans want to make immigration the centerpiece of their 2006 campaign,” said New York Sen. Charles Schumer, alongside Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, “we’ve got three words for them: Make our day!”

Such bring-it-on bravado from the Democratic duo has been making for bad days for the beleaguered Republican majority in this midterm-election year. These two high-energy partisans with their sharp elbows and tongues, and no apparent need to be loved, are just what Democrats need to end their exile from power. “We haven’t had that kind of Rove-ian ruthlessness in the party — to do or say anything to win — in a long time,” says party consultant Jenny Backus.

That suggests just how Democrats have come to see them: As a counter, finally, to President Bush’s so-called architect, Karl Rove, melding policies and politics for electoral gain. On the party’s election-year message, Mr. Schumer has worked closely with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tapped Mr. Emanuel for his job, their relationship has been more strained given his assertiveness and her liberal instincts. For more than a year, Democrats debated what platform to have for 2006, or whether to have one at all. Mr. Schumer was among those mostly content to bash Mr. Bush. “For us to put out a big range of ideas gives Republicans a target and gets the message off George Bush,” he said in an interview as deliberations progressed.

But Mr. Emanuel, a former adviser to President Clinton, wanted an agenda. Paul Begala, a friend from their White House days, says, “We all learned under Clinton, it’s just not enough to indict — you have to offer an alternative.” (Mr. Clinton has told audiences Mr. Emanuel was “my Karl Rove.”)

When Mr. Emanuel appeared last October on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Tim Russert challenged him, “What are the Democratic ideas?” Mr. Emanuel rattled off five — college aid, health care, a bipartisan budget summit, energy alternatives and a national technology institute. The “New Direction” agenda that Democrats announced last month roughly mirrors those points.

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Today. Original Title, huh? Caught Your Attention!

September 29, 2006

Bill Gentry at the Washington Times has a piece this morning that I agree with more than not, but still find some glaring inaccuracies in. The reason I differ with some of the details is because Gentry is a consevative writer working for a conservative newspaper and, thus, his perspective on the subject matter is a simplified account of a much more complex situation concerning the state of the Democratic party in general and the senate race in Connecticut specifically.

In regards to Connecticut, Gentry writes that the state could be the netroots’ Waterloo. Of this, I don’t disagree nor do I disagree with the reasoning that led him to this conclusion. Depending on your poll of choice, Joe Lieberman leads Ned Lamont by as littke as two or as much as 13 percentage points. In fact, since his loss in the primary, Lieberman has never trailed his opponant in the general election polls. Of course, there is still five or so weeks for Lamont to make up that ground, but the demographics of the race do not favor him. Lieberman has the support of most Independents in a state known for independent voters, most of the Republican vote, and a solid chunk of the Democratic vote.

Gentry continues his piece by observing this race is a make-or-break election for the reputation of the “netroots” – the fired-up, furious far-left bloggers. Again, I don’t disagree. They targeted a centrist Democratic Senator in a solid blue state not only because of his stance on the Iraq war but also because he looked to be the easiest to pick off. You’ll notice other Democrats that have incurred their wrath only had stones cast at them (Hillary Clinton, for example.)

The “netroots,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is defined by Gentry about as well as I’ve seen the term defined:

Almost anyone who bothers to actually read Daily Kos or any of the most prominent liberal “netroots” blogs is taken aback by the vicious tone, use of the f-word more frequently than a comma, insults, scathing all-out hatred of dissent from the party line, conspiracy theories, accusations of the New York Times being a tool of the Republican National Committee. The tone is way out of the American political mainstream, and not what one expects from a political movement serious about persuading voters and winning.

Correct. DailyKOS and other “progressive” blogs do just that. Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News spoke of it as well last summer and reached the conclusion that KOS “has been instrumental in helping thousands of frustrated activists make their voices heard. Being heard, however, is not the same as being taken seriously.”

I do want to dissent from Gentry on a couple of details at this point. While it is true (and I and other have written about it extensively) that KOS and others like him are quite vitriolic when it comes to those who stray from the party line, the “party line” in question is not that of the Democratic party. It may be the party line of some small faction within the party, or of those who mistakenly believe themselves to be Democrats but lack the knowledge of what the designation means, but such a strict adherance to a narrow set of ideals has no seat at the table of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton.

Maybe there is a kid’s table for them off to the side?

The next point I want to make is that such behavior from a party’s red meat craving activist wing isn’t just common to the left. Visit any rightwing blog or message forum like Free Republic and you’ll have a similar experience with the knuckle draggers that inhabit the far right.

Beyond that, though, Gentry is spot on. KOS and the netroots electoral victory record is a generous 4 for 25. (I say generous because they claim credit in a least one race, possibly two, where any scandal-free Democrat would have won.) They have yet to win a single general election.

We all like to think, “boy, if they just listened to me” — we would have our parties winning with 90 percent of the vote. But the reality is that very few of us have the right combination of judgment, intelligence and resources to manage a successful campaign. The world is full of armchair strategists who think they know it all; but in recent years, we’ve seen serious candidates like Mark Warner and Ned Lamont turn to the blogs for actual input on how to run a campaign.

If Mr. Lieberman wins, it will be time to close the book on the hype of the “netroots.” A serious political movement figures out how to win a general election or two in the first 26 tries.

Interesting article at TCSdaily called From Far Left To Libertarian that details the author’s political journey from the far left to his libertarian viewpoints of today. Some of the points raised are universal in any shift in political outlooks, and could have been written by a centrist after a move from either fringe of the political spectrum. Still, I disagree with the piece as a whole because it casts to much of a positive light on a political movement (in this case the far left) that is intolerant to opposing viewpoints and compromise on them.


Who Is Winning The 9/11 Public Relations War – Clinton or Bush?

September 28, 2006

Forget for a moment the pundits who are rendering their expert analysis over the Clinton-Bush 9/11 blame sweepstakes. Its too early to tell who has the upperhand now. Think of it as a great heavyweight fight. Round 1 was ABC’s “Path To 9/11” and the resulting furor over the film’s inaccuracies.

Who did the judges give that round to?

Let’s peak at the score cards so far…

BEFORE the movie aired:

In the poll results above, we see Bush edges Clinton by a nose on who the American public blames most for not capturing Osama bin Laden. However, AFTER the movie’s airing, the numbers shift dramatically.

Bush surges ahead by 11 points on who Americans blame “a great deal” for failing to capture bin Laden. And in the category of who should get the most blame, Bush again lead by an astonishing 18 points!

Round 1 goes to Clinton! Round 2 was last weekend’s FOX News… stay tuned to see if anyone has the cojones to do another round of polling next week!


FOX News: Bill Clinton Has Taken Control Of The National Dialogue On The War On Terrorism

September 28, 2006

FOX News commentator Susan Estrich says her news channel may have gotten their highest ratings since the capture of Saddam Hussein, but Bill Clinton was the winner of the showdown with her fellow commentator, Chris Wallace.

The former president won by taking control of the national dialogue on the war on terrorism, such that he has everyone comparing President Bush’s pre-9/11 record on hunting down Osama with his own, and in the process undercutting the Bush administration’s claimed strength (the only one left) at fighting terror…

But the big winners, in the long run, may prove to be the Democrats, who were looking for a leader to get in front of the midterm parade and energize the base, rally the troops and provide the momentum for the final weeks of the campaign.

Like him or hate him (I like him), there’s no one on the scene quite like the former president. By one appearance on a news show that is otherwise rated behind its competitors, he changes the way the debate over the war on terror is conducted. One appearance, on Fox News, his first time on “Fox News Sunday.” And he has everyone talking. Coming on the eve of a national intelligence estimate finding that the war in Iraq is increasing the dangers of terrorism, and on the heels of the revolt in the Senate on the detainees bill, Clinton’s popping up at center stage has put this president (Bush) on the defensive on what has been the only issue where Republicans still hold an advantage over Democrats.

Is Clinton the October surprise?

Bill Clinton remained on offense against the Republican Party yesterday while giving a speech in Manchester, England, for the country’s Labour Party.

the former US President starkly warned the Labour Party not to tumble into opposition, as has happened to the American Democrats, because the electorate thought the good times would continue whichever party won.

In a bravura performance at Labour’s conference in Manchester, Mr Clinton hailed the stunning success of Tony Blair’s government but argued it should learn the hard lessons from America, when George W Bush won the 2001 election and has since destroyed the Democrats’ economic legacy.

He said: “I think your biggest problem right now is that people take your achievements and your ideas for the future for granted.” He explained voters either thought the achievements would have happened anyway or believed that, if the “faces in the driving seat” changed, the new crowd would not ditch things that worked.

Movement analyst Karen Bradley, who is often called on to assess politicians’ body language, says former President Bill Clinton showed up for his Fox News Sunday interview with his A game.

Pressing the “mute” button, Bradley watched a video clip and saw Clinton’s determination and Wallace’s attempts to calm or neutralize the situation, she said.

“We can tell how people feel mostly through their body language,” Bradley said.

In particular, we can tell how they feel when they do something different with the body language from what is familiar to us, she said. Usually, Clinton is all about warm friendlies with a hand on the back and a big smile.

This was unfamiliar, Bradley said. At least unfamiliar to the general public. And, Bradley said, Clinton used forceful movements:

• The finger wag: This is not a nagging scold but the gesture of a man signaling that he is more important than Wallace.

• The hand wave in front of his body: With this motion Clinton sets a clear boundary between himself and Wallace.

• The forward body position and hand movement toward Wallace’s sheet of paper: Clearly, that hand wave boundary is only for Wallace. Clinton crosses forcefully into Wallace’s space.

• The pullback into his chair: With this movement, Clinton is not signalling retreat but being dismissive.

In contrast, Wallace struggled to neutralize the situation, Bradley said. His movements include:

• Leaning back in his chair: Though Clinton makes a similar move, Wallace does not settle back with his full body into the chair, Bradley said. Instead, his weight is suspended as if he is uncomfortable.

• Hands moving back and forth: This is a sign of equivocating as if to say, “Wait, no, I meant this.”

“Chris Wallace is trying to neutralize what he is doing,” Bradley said.

“He is trying not to be upset or give in.”

“If you think of this as a dance, a dance of weaponry, if you will, I think former President Clinton definitely pierces Chris Wallace’s body armor.”


Keith Olberman says it:

… and says it again…


Jim Wallis vs. Ralph Reed on “Values Voting.” Plus, Centrism in the News

September 27, 2006

There’s been a great “dialogue” over at Beliefnet between Jim Wallis and Ralph Reed over the central question “What Do Values Voters Value Most.” Wallis states:

I believe a debate on moral values should be central in American politics. The question is, of course, which values? Whose values? And how should we define moral values? The problem is when one side of the political spectrum (your side) tries to define values as meaning only two things – opposition to same-sex marriage and criminalizing abortion. And while those two have become “wedge issues” that your side has effectively used for quite partisan purposes, many of the pressing problems our society confronts have an essential moral character. Issues regarding the sacredness of life and family values are indeed very important, and need a much deeper moral discussion; but there is also a broader moral agenda that reflects all the values Americans care about.

So it is actually arrogant to assume that only two issues involve moral values. And it is hubris to say that only those people with a conservative political position on those two issues are voting based on values. What should be valued most is a broader and deeper view of a politics grounded in all our values.

Reed responds:

The claim that religious conservatives focus on one or two issues or somehow believe that other issues lack a moral component is a straw man.

Wallis replies:

My point that the Religious Right only focuses on one or two issues is not a “straw man.” I’ve looked at the promotional material and program for the “Values Voters” conference this weekend in Washington. The major opening plenary session is titled “The Preservation Of Traditional Marriage” and the website promotes a book titled “The Party of Death,” which claims to detail “how left-wing radicals, using abortion as their lever, took over the Democratic Party-and how they have used their power to corrupt our law and politics.”

And I saw several comments here to your post. One said, “I grew up in an evangelical right-wing conservative denomination, and have been a minister in it for the past decade. I have been troubled by my tradition for several years over many things. If conservatives have a huge agenda and are not based on 2 issues, I’ve never seen it.”

Four more exchanges by the two of them can be found here.

John Patrick Grace asks “Are You On The Left, Right, or Center?”

Regular readers of the editorial page cannot help but be struck by columnists and letter writers using words such as ‘liberal,” “extremist,” and “the hard right” like branding irons to publicly stamp a political or social figure as “hopelessly off base.” If you are like 75 percent of the U.S. electorate, you simply don’t identify yourself as any of the above.

So where are you anyway? Chances are you are somewhere in the middle of the extremes of far-left liberals and far-right reactionaries. In other words, you are a centrist.

Not at all “fence sitters,” centrists constitute the most interesting group in U.S. politics today. They are free ranging, able to think an issue through, move left in one sector and move right in another, change their minds, listen with less prejudice to debates and pragmatically adopt the positions that simply make the most sense to them.

All on a case-by-case basis.

Columnist E.J. Dionne says centrists are “the largest group up for grabs in the American electorate.”

Centrists tend to resonate to politicians, whether to the left or right of them, who both preach and practice transparent honesty, a rigorous search for the best solutions to difficult quandaries, and those ready to reach across the aisle for bipartisan agreements. In other words, they are likely to eschew the polarizing ideologies of both political flanks.

President John F. Kennedy, though assailed as a liberal by his political enemies, was a staunch defender of the U.S. military and of protecting the country from foreign threats. In one famous remark to the White House press corps he said: “Do not call me a liberal; do not call me a conservative; if you must use a label, call me a pragmatist.” Such is the essence of centrism.

Washington Post columnist David Broder recently quoted Dawn Larson of Oswego, Ill., as summing up centrists: “We’re very independent people,” she said. “We have trouble ordering pizza together. But we know what we want from government — accountability, responsibility and vision.”

If that makes sense to you, consider yourself a centrist.

The Detroit Free Press tells us moderate groups are taking on the Christian Right:

Determined to break the links binding partisan politics and faith, growing numbers of religious moderates are uniting and organizing in an unprecedented bid to challenge the Christian right and broaden the values agenda beyond the issues of abortion and gay marriage.

The November midterm elections are serving as a kind of dress rehearsal for the more prominent role these moderates, many without a political party alignment, hope to play in the 2008 presidential election and other political contests.

This new coalition of moderate and progressive Christians underscored its intentions with a flurry of activity last week, as prominent conservative Christian leaders and politicians converged on Washington for the Family Research Council’s first annual Values Voter Summit, which ends today.

“God is not a Republican or Democrat. That must be obvious, but it must be said,” said Jim Wallis, a leading evangelical and founder and president of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a progressive faith-based movement concerned with poverty and the intersection of faith and politics. “There has been this hijacking or takeover of the Republican Party by its right wing and hijacking of religion by the religious right.”

On Tuesday, three-term former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., an Episcopal priest and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, added his voice to the moderate cause with the publication of his book, “Faith and Politics: How the Moral Values Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together.”

Danforth said he is convinced that the majority of Americans are religious moderates or centrists but that, in line with the very definition of the word moderate, they have not been as vocal or as driven by passion as their conservative counterparts. “I want moderates to find their voices. I just think we need a big public movement on this,” Danforth said.

On Wednesday, a national survey of 2,500 people on religion, values and politics released by the Center for American Values in Public Life, a nonpartisan research project of the liberal People For the American Way Foundation, yielded some support for this view.

“Fully half of Americans can be classified as centrist in their religious orientation, while 22% are traditionalists, 18% are modernists, and 10% are secular or nonreligious,” according to an analysis of the survey findings by Robert Jones, the center’s executive director. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said that religion is important in their lives.

Live in Georgia, like me? Georgia Politics Unfiltered is the best centrist-leaning Democratic political blog on the internets.


Rice Says Clinton Is Wrong. But Is He?

September 26, 2006

Various media outlets are reporting that yesterday Condoleezza Rice accused Bill Clinton of making “flatly false” claims that the Bush administration “did not try” to kill Osama bin Laden and stop terrorism during the eight months they controlled the White House before the Sept. 11 attacks.

“What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years,” Rice says.

Really? Well, according to a report from the Washington Post dated January 20, 2002, the Bush plan in the eight months leading up to 9/11 was “mostly ambition.”

The article details how the Bush administration held back for three months on a plan approved by the CIA to kill bin Laden with a new Predator drone that could kill with deadly accuracy flying two miles high and four miles away.

The article details how the Bush administration, far from being as aggressive as the Clinton administration, actually scaled back operations to kill bin Laden and cripple Al Qaeda:

  • The administration did not resume its predecessor’s covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships, on six-hour alert near Afghanistan’s borders. The standby force gave Clinton the option, never used, of an immediate strike against targets in al Qaeda’s top leadership. The Bush administration put no such capability in place before Sept. 11.
  • At least twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that bin Laden’s group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole – a conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney – the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action.
  • In the spring, CIA officers traveled into northern Afghanistan to assess rebel forces commanded by Ahmed Shah Massoud. They found him worse than he had appeared the autumn before. The agency gave Massoud cash and supplies in small amounts in exchange for intelligence on al Qaeda but did not have the authority to build back his fighting strength against the Taliban.
  • In his first budget, Bush spent $13.6 billion on counterterrorist programs across 40 departments and agencies. There were also somewhat higher gaps this year, however, between what military commanders said they needed to combat terrorists and what they got. When the Senate Armed Services Committee tried to fill those gaps with $600 million diverted from ballistic missile defense, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he would recommend a veto. That threat came Sept. 9.
  • On May 8, Bush announced a new Office of National Preparedness for terrorism at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. At the same time, he proposed to cut FEMA’s budget by $200 million. Bush said that day that Cheney would direct a government-wide review on managing the consequences of a domestic attack, and “I will periodically chair a meeting of the National Security Council to review these efforts.” Neither Cheney’s review nor Bush’s took place.
  • Bush did not speak again publicly of the dangers of terrorism before Sept. 11, except to promote a missile shield that had been his top military priority from the start. At least three times he mentioned “terrorist threats that face us” to explain the need to discard the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  • The Treasury Department created a new deputy assistant secretary’s post last summer to coordinate anti-terrorist efforts among its five enforcement arms, and it took the first steps toward hosting a Foreign Terrorist Assets Tracking Center. It also spent months fending off the new laws and old global institutions that are central to the war against al Qaeda’s financing. Unresolved interagency disputes left the administration without a position on legislative initiatives to combat money laundering. And until the summer, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill suspended U.S. participation in allied efforts to penetrate offshore banking havens, whose secrecy protects the cash flows of drug traffickers, tax evaders and terrorists.

The Post article explains that the new national security team were waiting results of a broad policy review toward the al Qaeda network and Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, still underway in a working group two and three levels below the president. Bush and his top aides had higher priorities – above all, ballistic missile defense.

Continuing from Condi Rice’s statements this week, she claims, “we were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda.” Again I ask, really?

Turn the clock back to Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001, when two former senators, the bipartisan co-chairs of a Defense Department-chartered commission on national security, spoke with something between frustration and regret about how White House officials failed to embrace any of the recommendations to prevent acts of domestic terrorism delivered earlier that year.

From Salon.com, the bipartisan 14-member panel was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., to make sweeping strategic recommendations on how the United States could ensure its security in the 21st century.

In its Jan. 31, 2001 report, seven Democrats and seven Republicans unanimously approved 50 recommendations. Many of them addressed the point that, in the words of the commission’s executive summary, “the combination of unconventional weapons proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack.”

But Bush administration officials told former Sens. Gary Hart, D-Colo., and Warren Rudman, R-N.H., that they preferred instead to put aside the recommendations issued in the January report by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. Instead, the White House announced in May that it would have Vice President Dick Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism — which the bipartisan group had already spent two and a half years studying — while assigning responsibility for dealing with the issue to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by former Bush campaign manager Joe Allbaugh.

The Hart-Rudman Commission had specifically recommended that the issue of terrorism was such a threat it needed far more than FEMA’s attention.

And where is that plan? Who has seen it? Why, it’s right here.


A Consensus? Clinton Shrewd, Calculating, “Played” FOX News

September 26, 2006

The aftermath of the Bill Clinton/Chris Wallace dust up still rages online, with various news sources agreeing on one general result – it probably helped the Democrats.

The setup was classic Bush-era GOP strategy with seemingly coincidental events happening concurrently with one goal in mind: Damage control. A classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is released Friday, contending that the war in Iraq has increased Islamic radicalism, and has made the terror threat around the world worse. Sensing their bread and butter issue for every election between 2002 and forever in serious jeopardy, Chris Wallace and FOX News (in an already scheduled interview with Bill Clinton) lend a hand to the damage control effort by using “emailed questions from their viewers” (with whitehouse.gov addresses, no doubt.) The first question of note is already the stuff of legend on the internets: Did you do enough to stop Osama bin Laden?

The resulting event could have been a little different if FOX News hadn’t used a junior journalist wannabe. But maybe not. We are talking about Bill Clinton, who took Wallace to the woodshed and soundly thrashed him. With a smirk on his face as a seemingly last act of defiance, Wallace would later recount how intimidate he was by Clinton. By the truth. By being completely unprepared to counter Clinton’s arguments.

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked: Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole? I want to know how many you asked: Why did you fire Dick Clarke? I want to know…

WALLACE: We asked… Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you ask them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of…

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that did you? Tell the truth.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth.

WALLACE: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on climate change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

WALLACE: (laughs)

I’ll answer for Wallace. The answer is no. Neither Wallace nor anyone on FOX News has EVER asked anyone from the Bush administration about their inaction on the Cole or their inaction on Osama bin Laden. Game, set, match. That one exchange show that “fair and balanced” is a sham.

But I’ve digressed. I’ve gotten way off the path I was taking originally. I tend to do that. But my point is worth the wait. The national consensus of the Clinton interview on FOX news is that is helps Democrats. Look, for example, at a well known conservative source, The Weekly Standard. William Kristol asks his readers to use their imaginations (in their own limited kind of way):

LET’S DO A THOUGHT experiment: Perhaps Bill Clinton, an experienced and sophisticated politician, knew what he was doing when he made big news by “losing his temper” in his interview with Chris Wallace. Perhaps Clinton’s aides knew what they were doing when they publicized the interview by providing their own transcript to a left-wing website as soon as possible Friday evening, and then pre-spun reporters late Friday and Saturday. Maybe it was just damage control. Or maybe Clinton did what he wanted to do when he indignantly defended himself, blasted the Bush administration, and attacked Fox News. What could Clinton have been seeking to accomplish? Three things. Helping Democrats in 2006, helping Hillary in 2008, intimidating critics.

Kristol is fearful the tactic (if it was a tactic) worked.

Moving on to a moderate source – Slate. John Dickerson writes:

Bill Clinton wasn’t sandbagged, because he is a smart politician. He just spent several weeks fighting ABC over its interpretation of his administration’s hunt for Bin Laden. He knew the question was coming and he took advantage of it. Forty-three days before the election, he has provided a moment to rally party activists and attack the GOP at the heart of its perceived strength on handling terrorism.

Democrats should rejoice that Wallace was as tough as he was. If he had been supine, fearful of another 3,000-word report from Media Matters, the party and Clinton would have been denied an opportunity. And Clinton would have been disappointed, at least judging from his spokesperson’s remarks afterward: “We’re fully aware of Fox News’ and Chris Wallace’s agenda, and President Clinton came in prepared to respond to any attack on his record. When Wallace questioned his record on terrorism, he responded forcefully, as any Democrat would or should.” In other words, he went in loaded for bear and blasted like Cheney as soon as he spotted one.