TANGENTS: Blaming the past for problems of today

TANGENTS By John Saccenti: Why is Bill Clinton being blamed for errors in our current administration?

By: John Saccenti
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line".

— President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program."

— President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
   Perhaps you’ve seen these quotes recently. They’re currently making the e-mail inbox rounds and helping to fill time on news opinion shows.
   I’ve gotten them too. I’ve read them, and listened to discussion on them. But, and maybe I’m being dense, I have no idea why their relevant and why they’re cluttering my computer.
   But, I do have a response. "Who cares?" George Bush is president, not Bill Clinton. Who cares what Clinton thought about Iraq. It’s irrelevant.
   Are these quotes — which indicate that, like President Bush, President Clinton also believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — meant to exonerate President Bush?
   Gee, I feel a lot better now that I know President Bush decided to use the same faulty information past presidents and leaders used when it came time to make a colossal mess in the grandest of fashions.
   After all, if President Clinton made the mistake, than it has to be OK for President Bush to have made the same mistake, right?.
   Yeah, everything’s better now. Thanks. If President Bush does unmentionable things to interns, I suppose that’ll be OK too, since President Clinton did it, right?
   If we are to believe everything we’ve heard, then President Bush inherited a bad economy; Osama bin Laden is not only Clinton’s fault, but his creation; and that welfare and immigration are issues the current administration has had to deal with because of eight years of Democrats.
   On different levels, all of the above is true. But, none of it is ultimately important. You see, it’s not President Clinton’s problem anymore. It’s President Bush’s.
   I find it strange that the people who seek to defend President Bush are using quotes from President Clinton to do it. Isn’t, or wasn’t, President Bush supposed to be the anti-Clinton? Honesty. Integrity. He’ll never lie. He’s a solid, outstanding human being with deep-rooted beliefs. He’s a uniter, not a divider. That’s what we heard.
   Unfortunately, this perfect man chose a poor role model when it came to using information from intelligence agencies.
   President Clinton’s actions and inaction probably did contribute to the "creation" of Osama Bin Laden. But President Bush had been in charge for eight months before Sept. 11. Surely if he had looked there would have been at least a hint that a problem was brewing, that al-Qaida was plotting or that our intelligence agencies were inept.
   But I guess at the time the current administration was just fine with the way the CIA and other intelligence agencies had been doing business under President Clinton and didn’t feel the need to follow up on terrorists or the intelligence agencies that follow them until it was too late.
   (Oh, they did create the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, which was designed assess the threat Iraq posed to the United States and its connections to al-Qaida. Great job guys.)
   Of course, if they had changed things, who would be to blame for America’s current problems.
   That’s some good leading there. Thanks.
   It shouldn’t be surprising that President Bush’s supporters are trying to explain away America’s recent shortcomings. After all, this is an administration that has gone out of its way to blame any and all problems on the former administration. President Bush even mentioned his "predecessor" regarding Iraq’s weapons Sunday while on "Meet the Press."
   But, at what point does President Bush start being president? When does he take some responsibility? When can we move on from the Clinton era and move into the Bush era?
   I’m not an economist, so I’ll have to take someone else’s word on the fact that President Bush inherited a bad economy.
   Fine, it’s not his fault. But three years later, why hasn’t it gotten a whole lot better? Is President Clinton still sending memos and pulling the economic strings of America, or, is the blame for a slow recovery to be found elsewhere?
   President Clinton had many faults, and an inability to admit those faults was a big one. Putting himself above the presidency, and many times above the country was another. But, he’s not the president now, George Bush is. Somehow, I expected more from him.

John Saccenti is news editor for The Cranbury Press and the South Brunswick Post. He can be reached via e-mail by clicking here.