Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 14, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

RICH LOWRY TRIES HIS BEST....This is really pretty hilarious. NRO is hawking Rich Lowry's new book, Legacy: Paying the Price of the Clinton Years, so I clicked the link to see what it was about.

Now, I'm not going to pick on NRO for lying about misstating the number of ex-Clinton aides that Lowry quotes, because that would be trivial and nitpicky and I'm above that kind of thing. Still, there were really only 14, even though they tried to make it look like 15. And of course the Lanny Davis quote isn't even about Clinton at all (the giveaway is the phrase "in the 1980s"). So, really, 13. But who's counting?

No, what I really love is what Lowry says about the ex-Clinton aides that he interviewed:

....there were flashes of real forthrightness. If you think Clinton is a weak person, who made excuses for himself, and defeated Al Gore, and couldn't make a decision, and brought out-of-their-depth rank amateurs to the making of foreign policy, and had a pointless second term, and fundamentally misunderstood how to respond to the terror threat and so on: You get the idea you might be surprised that former Clinton officials agree with you.

So I read on, expecting to hear a litany of horror stories about Slick Willie. Instead, I found nothing. In fact, with only a couple of exceptions, after talking to "as many as would talk, in any way that would win their cooperation," all Lowry could dig up were the most mildly critical comments you could imagine, and some of them weren't even that. Check this one out:

  • Howard Paster, former Clinton congressional lobbyist, on Clinton's lack of a guiding philosophy in decision-making: "I don't think the decisions were consistently ideological, because there were different players in every decision."

So apparently the Clinton administration didn't make every single decision based on a partisan litmus test, but instead brought in different people and listened to what they said. Only in NRO's world would this be considered a failing.

Most of the others are mildly regretful about some strategy or another or honestly self-critical about a mistake, and the rest mostly lament the fact that they couldn't do even more than they did or else offer up some observation about Clinton's personality.

All I can say is that if these quotes are the worst Lowry could dredge up, Clinton's people must have liked him a lot. Hell, nothing in that list compares to what John DiIulio has already said about his experience in the Bush administration, and that was less than two years into it. Better keep digging, Rich.

Kevin Drum 9:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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