Tuesday, August 17, 2004

And this is whose fault exactly?

David Ignatius's editor must have taken the day off, or else surely this column would have been rejected.

He says "don't politicize terrorism". Fine. And then he proceeds to politicize it for the rest of the column. Ignatius writes:
The dangers of politicizing terrorism were clear in this month's announcement about potential attacks on financial centers in the New York area and in Washington. When Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge disclosed the threats on Aug. 1, he faced immediate skepticism about whether the intelligence was valid. Sadly, the Bush administration had helped create this climate of public suspicion by overusing its elaborate, color-coded system of terrorism warnings.
IIRC after the initial setting the color code has changed 3 times - once up, once down, and now back up again. This, over a couple of years or so since the color system was created. This is overusing? I wonder how often they have fire drills in his building.

Elaborate? There are 5 whole colors. I'd expect a kindergartener to know that many - is this too much of a challenge for Ignatius to keep them straight?

After a terrorism advisory by Attorney General John Ashcroft last spring was pooh-poohed the same day by Ridge, some people wondered whether these warnings were being used for political effect.
Good grief, this past week we've had people talking about the use of hurricanes for political effect - there is nothing Bush could ever do to keep some opponents from projecting their own underhanded motivations onto him.

Bush isn't Bill Clinton. He doesn't conduct polls to see where he should go on vacation. He's willing to take heat for convictions, such as limiting federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He doesn't have a principle-free creep like Dick Morris making suggestions. When his DUI years ago well before his well-known reform was hyped just before the 2000 election, he didn't send his minions out to convince the world that "everybody gets DUIs". He's trustworthy, and the Dems can't stand it - what if the public starts expecting trustworthiness from them too?

Further asininities:
By linking its reelection campaign so closely to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration has eroded its credibility -- to the point that some members of the public are beginning to wonder whether terrorism warnings are all just politics.
Bush's campaign's linkage to the war on terror is entirely appropriate inasmuch as he has no more important task than that, and because it identifies significant differences between him and opponent John Kerry. And Kerry could neutralize it all tomorrow by stating that he approved of Bush's war on terror and if elected, he would give Bush a high position in his govt so Bush could keep running the show.
The administration risks compounding that climate of politicization by nominating a sitting Republican member of Congress, Porter Goss, to be the next CIA director.
What's wrong with having a sitting Republican member of Congress in this role? Shouldn't CIA directors have some knowledge of how Congress runs? And if Bush were a Democrat, does Ignatius doubt for a minute that the nominee would be a Democrat?

If Ignatius has a problem with Porter Goss, he should state it. Better yet, leave all mention out of the column because it's irrelevant. We know what side you're on, Mr. Ignatius - you can quit padding your word count.

And the finale:
Public cynicism about terrorism is dangerous -- and so is the politicization of intelligence that breeds it. The danger is that when the administration warns for real about the next Sept. 11, it won't be believed.
It took some brass-balled effrontery to write that given what preceded it. If Ignatius really believes this, then why would he write a column like the above full of innuendoes that encourage public cynicism?

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