Thursday, October 30, 2003

# Posted 6:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CLARK'S SPEECH: A POLITICAL MASTERSTROKE? Matt Yglesias' boss is arguing that Wes Clark's attack on George Bush's pre-9/11 record was not just intentional, but also the first shot in a well-planned campaign strategy. As Tomasky puts it,
[Clark] will apparently seek in the coming weeks and months to convince Americans that a failure of presidential leadership before 9-11 may have been partly responsible for the disaster's occurrence in the first place.
I'm going to have to call that wishful thinking. If Clark actually had such a clear strategy, why was his prepared text so equivocal on the issue of Bush's responsibility? And if this specific attack on Bush was such an important part of Clark's overall message on national security, why did he resort to ad libbing?

Now, Tomasky may be right that Bush is more vulnerable to criticism on the pre-9/11 front than widely thought. The Kean Commission may well expose an embarrassing degree of unpreparedness in the White House. And Tomasky may even be right that Clark's "surely has his own sources in the U.S. intelligence world". Still, if a Democratic candidate is going to attack Bush on this fron, he will need nothing short of a smoking gun in order to persuade the American public that Osama bin Laden deserves anything less than 100% of the blame for the September 2001 attacks.

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