[For an explanation of the strikethroughs, see my follow-up post.]
We have it on semi-reliable authority that the Bush administration’s next attempt to discount Richard Clarke’s credibility will consist of alleging that he’s a big gay. We have a little trouble figuring out how being gay makes you unable to assess threats to a country’s national security — after all, we trust them to tell us what to wear. Still, it is a great strategy.
That is, as long as you don’t believe there any other homosexuals on the Bush national security team.
The new smear effort apparently emerged after CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said on the news that unnamed officials are alluding to “weird aspects” of Clarke’s private life. Kevin Drum, usually more reserved and proper, responds: “What a disgusting gang of thugs and cretins. Hell, I hope they do go public with this, just to show the country their true colors.”
Kleiman also bristles, and says the White House now has three options:
1. Say that they approve of the attack, and that Clarke’s sexual orientation is a legitimate reason to doubt his veracity or his acuity.
2. Say that they don’t think that the attack is really relevant, but that any tactic is legitimate if it weakens a critic of the President.
3. Claim that Wolf Blitzer was making it up, and explain why he would.
4. Denounce the attack in strong terms.
Ï can’t really see a fifth option. This is truly the case where silence gives consent. Anyone who has been attacking Clarke personally has been, in effect, playing on the White House team, and has an ethical obligaton to call the foul.
And since the argument of the Clarke-bashers has been that inconsistencies in his statements mean that anything he says stands discredited, I’d like to hear them explain why this sort of tactic from the White House (on top of the massive internal inconsistencies in the White House anti-Clarke spin) shouldn’t lead us to ignore anything Condi Rice or Dick Cheney says from now on.
This is an administration that will live in infamy. Nothing surprises me now. Shocks, yes. Surprises, no.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.