The Corner

Re: Times vs. The White House

Of course the White House is correct that the Times hit piece on Sunday was absurd, but I don’t know what the administration expects at this point. 

For example (and there are so many examples): 

  • There has always been a compelling, urgently needed defense to be made about Guantanamo Bay, yet the administration basically stood silent, allowing human-rights activists and the rest of the Left to write a libelous history which distorts the due process record and accounts not an iota for the most critical fact: the intelligence haul and how it helped protect American lives. 
  • WMD were found in Iraq (albeit not in nearly the quantities anticipated) and there is a rich record of connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, but when supporters pleaded with the White House to contradict the “Bush lied and people died” smear, they were curtly told, “We’re looking forward, not back” — again allowing the other side to write the history. 
  • In the controversy over the notorious “16 words” in the 2003 State of the Union Address, the administration ended up apologizing over the President’s saying something that was true (viz., that British intelligence determined Saddam’s Iraq had sought uranium in Africa:  it was true that British intel believed this to be the case and almost surely true that Saddam did it — as corroborated by the Joe Wilson boondoggle).  History, again, will teach that the Iraq War, which had nothing to do with the War on Terror, was a cold-blooded catastrophe based on intelligence “manipulation.” 
  • In the controversy over the NSA program, when the administration’s position on warrantless wiretapping had rich support in precedent, the administration first spent a year aptly saying it couldn’t adequately protect American lives by going through the FISA court, then, when its supporters rallied to that defense, the administration sawed the plank off behind them, saying, “Never mind, turns out we can go through the FISA court after all.”

The list goes on and on.  When this White House has taken umbrage and lashed out, as it did yesterday in reaction to the Times, its indignation has too often been at its friends:  as in the immigration debate, the Harriet Miers nomination, the prescription drug entitlement, the monstrous interventions in the credit markets, and now the bail-out of the failed auto-sloths and the UAW … under circumstances where the industry’s owners wouldn’t invest any more of their money and the bail-out violates everything the administration ever said about the rationale of the TARP program.

Now, let’s say you’re the Times or any reasonably intelligent Democrat strategist.  As problems erupt (or, often, as you manufacture crises), your greatest need is to deflect, shift and assign blame.  Based on years of experience, you know the Bush administration’s standard four-stage response to spurious attacks is to go dark, act guilty, make or agree to a ”fix” that concedes the premise of the attack, and finally belittle your political allies for their refusal to pretend that the fix is a fabulous idea.  So when the credit markets seize and the economy goes into the tank, of course you’re going to write a hit-piece like the Times ran on Sunday.  What else would you do?

We just had an election in which the decisive financial melt-down was, as Roger Kimball details today, directly traceable to the Community Reinvestment Act and the Fannie/Freddie implosion — Democrat debacles through and through (with Obama as a top recipient of Fannie and Freddie pay-offs, er, I mean, contributions).  Yet the Bush White House evidently figured it was beneath the president to speak out about these facts, and the GOP candidate was either blind to or frozen by the appearance of this hanging curveball, somehow deciding the campaign homestretch was, instead, the perfect time for an ode to, and preening display of, bipartisanship.  After all, we wouldn’t want to have elections be contests between parties about issues of importance to our lives, right?  

And, natch, we got smoked … and now the people who caused the problem have been put in charge of solving it, which is pretty damn bipartisan if you ask me.

It is a big part of the Left’s project to control the historical narrative.  If you consistently roll over for them, they will consistently roll over you.  I’m delighted to find the White House now, six weeks after the election and eight months after the Bear Stearns fire-sale, telling us all about how Democrats fought off efforts to regulate Fannie and Freddie, about how ”Democratic leaders brazenly encouraged Fannie and Freddie to loosen lending standards and instead encouraged the housing GSEs to play a larger and larger role in the housing market — even while explicitly acknowledging the rising risks[,]” etc.  But you gotta learn how to say hello before it’s time to say goodbye.

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