Sunday, October 22, 2006

"To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past."

A couple weeks ago, Keith Olbermann reacted to the fallout after the Chris Wallace interview with President Clinton. The belligerence of Wallace, the Clinton reaction, the subsequent White House counter-reaction, and the American efforts to kill or capture bin Laden provide the pretext to Olbermann’s commentary.

It’s a commentary that gets to the heart of the question we’ve repeatedly asked over the past several years; whatever happened to personal responsibility, Presidential leadership and the “Buck Stops Here”? Far from those virtues, we have been left with an absolutist Administration who sees the world in black and white and firmly believes that the acknowledgment of anything that could remotely be construed as a mistake is nothing more than a sign of weakness.

When President Kennedy publicly shouldered the blame for the Bay of Pigs fiasco, his approval ratings shot through the roof. Although it was a military disaster, the American people stood by their President because they respected him for maturely stepping up and accepting responsibility. He told the American people that he was the President and because of it, he was ultimately responsible for the government’s decisions, both good and bad. People looked to him for results and he realized it came with the territory.

In the Wallace interview, Clinton admits that he did not do enough to capture or kill bin Laden. It was quite an admission from a man who has long been criticized for politically sidestepping personal responsibility; a man who was relentlessly and incredulously lambasted by the Right for “Monica distractions” and for focusing more on the defense of his personal shortcomings and less on conducting an effective national security strategy.

In the aftermath of Clintonism, along comes a cowboy from Texas to save the day. He was a leader who vowed to unite an increasingly polarized nation. He was also a straight-shooter who told it like it was, talked about personal responsibility, and vowed to bring integrity back to the Oval Office. And here we are today…

What’s disgusting is that this Orwellian Administration not only fails to admit past shortcomings but has led an unabashed effort to rewrite history to cover its tracks and cast it in a better light. Instead of identifying where they went wrong and reflecting on the lessons it should teach us, they have skirted responsibility, claimed those mistakes never occurred, and have spun them against their political enemies by claiming that questioning the President is unpatriotic and un-American. In fact, it reflects quite the opposite. As a result, one of the most unifying issues in our nation's history has been twisted by our elected “leadership” into one of the most divisive.

The claim that this is the worst presidential leadership since Buchanan? Maybe Olbermann’s not so off-base.

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