If it's Tuesday, it's time to see what new stupidity Richard Cohen
has unleashed upon the world.
He's unhappy, again, with the President.
The smug spirit of Enron pervades the Bush administration.
When in doubt, mention Enron. Page one of the anti-Bush playbook. Doesn't matter how irrevelant it actually is to the topic at hand.
When it learned that North Korea had a secret nuclear arms program, it moved the disclosure off the books lest it complicate the confrontation with Iraq. The information that Congress needed as it held another one of its self-proclaimed "historic" debates was withheld -- a footnote known to only a few key members who, as with Enron's board, passively kept their mouths shut.
Well, that's not what Colin Powell said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday. He said that Senators and Congressmen were being briefed for the past couple of weeks - before the Iraq vote. Now, as noted many times, we are not fans of (hopefully soon to be ex) Secretary of State Powell, but we will still take his word over that of Tommy Daschle or Dickie Gephardt, both of whom are fundamentally dishonest, morally repugnant human beings (and calling them human is giving them both a very generous benefit of the doubt). So, Richard, before you throw out allegations, you might want to listen to both sides. Just a thought.
But Japan knew. President Bush told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 12. It was the same day that Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly, providing the clearest rationale yet for going to war with Iraq. He said nothing in that speech about North Korea. Unlike Iraq, it is not plodding toward producing nuclear weapons. It may already have at least two.
The speech was not about North Korea; and had he mentioned them, he'd have been bashed for trying to widen the war and extend his imperialist grasp yet further. Cohen would probably have been leading the charge.
Undoubtedly, other governments also knew that North Korea was cheating on the agreement it had reached in 1994 with the Clinton administration. It was supposed to abandon its nuclear weapons program -- which, in a way, it did. But it started up another one -- and this is the one that Washington started to substantiate last summer. Washington and Pyongyang had at least one thing in common: They were both keeping a secret from the American people.
Well, from what's come out, the first hints of this came in 2000. Who was President in 2000? Let's say it all together, for Richard's benefit: Willian Jefferson Blythe Clinton.
And by the way, "in a way" North Korea did abandon their program? Well, since Cohen can't ever stay mad at his idol, the former Narcissist-in-Chief, he has to compliment him. But this, of course, is like arguing over what "is" is. Or saying that, "well, in a way he stopped cheating - he did dump Gennifer," without noting that he then started cheating with someone new. I think the phrase above was "fundamentally dishonest." It fits here, too.
In too many respects, the Bush administration operates as if it -- and not Congress or, for that matter, the American people -- owns this entity called "the government." It has told Congress to buzz off when it asked for documents telling whom Vice President Cheney met with in formulating the administration's energy policy. Enron, perhaps?
Well, he does raise a vaild point here. Unfortunately, he didn't raise this point during the eight year regime of the Clintons. I don't recall Cohen calling for Lady MacBeth to release notes about her secretive health care reform committee way back then. I don't recall criticism of executive priviledge when Billy Jeff used it.
He's not wrong about Bush, but since he carried water for the Clintons when they did the same thnigs, Cohen is certainly not the man to make that point.
It has been downright uncooperative in granting Freedom of Information Act requests from the news media and other interested parties. It fought a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate what went wrong before Sept. 11, 2001, then reluctantly agreed to one -- and now has reneged on that agreement. The intelligence community, it seems, did just a swell job -- the hole in Lower Manhattan notwithstanding.
About FOIA requests, that may be true. But without specifics, which we can't reall expect from Richard, i guess (unfounded allegations are so
much easier), we can't evaulate this claim. And there may be legitimate reasons to oppose those requests due to security reasons - again, without knowing what's being asked for, there's no way to assess this acusation.
As for the commisison, I agree with him, amazingly enough. Broken clocks and blind acorns, I guess.
The news that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons -- that it just might already have them -- might not have changed the course of the Iraq debate in Congress one bit. It does not change my mind. In fact, it confronts us with what might happen when a desperate, despotic power gets its hands on such weapons. The South Korean capital of Seoul is just 40 miles from the North Korean border. If North Korea really has a nuclear arsenal, not to mention the means to deliver it, war might well be unthinkable. This, too, could happen with Iraq.
Gee, you think?
But the North Korean program certainly complicates matters -- maybe in ways that I cannot envision. This is the virtue of debate -- the teasing out of facts, arguments, positions that might never have occurred to you. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, for instance, I did not much consider whether toppling the Iraqi regime might also topple some others. I did not dwell on what would happen when Saddam Hussein was gone -- who would govern the country and whether in fact it would be governable. I was enraged. It was enough.
Well, I imagine that there's quite a lot that Richard can't envision.
And you have to love the narcissism here; how many times does he use "I" in one paragraph? It's all about how Richard feels.
The debate -- the one in Congress, to some extent, but really the one conducted on the op-ed pages of newspapers -- was extremely instructive. My bottom line did not change, but it wavered from time to time. I wanted all the facts, and in the end I thought I had them.
You still don't have them, Richard. First because no one has them, including the Administration. Second, because there are things that the Administrationand
Congress know that you don't. So get over yourself already.
And of course it's all about the OpEd pages; not aming the public, because,really, who gives a damn about them? What's important is what Mo Dowd, and E.J. Dionne, and Sally Quinn think. That's what counts for Richard.
Not so, it turns out. An important piece of information was withheld -- from me, from you and from our representatives in Congress. I am reminded of the so-called secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Secret from whom? Not from the Cambodians. They surely noticed they were being bombed. Not from the North Vietnamese. They knew, too. The ones in the dark were the American people.
And of course we go back to Vietnam. Always Vietnam.
Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice deny that news about the North Korean program was withheld for political reasons. Bush needed time to study the matter, they insist. But he had plenty of time -- and some of that time Congress was engaged in the Iraq debate, playing the role of the oblivious board of directors. Bush is not that slow a learner. In fact, it was he -- remember? -- who included North Korea in his "axis of evil." What did he know then?
That they were a secretive, militaristic, Stalinist regime with a loon in charge. Which we all knew.
It would be one thing if this were an isolated example of the Bush administration either exaggerating threats -- the imminence of an Iraqi bomb, for instance -- or forgetting to mention one that already exists, such as the North Korean program. But this administration keeps one set of books for itself and another for the public and Congress. It's Enron on the Potomac.
And one more Enron mention, just for good measure. It doesn't matter how far you have to stretch it, as long as you can get your digs in at the President.