Democratic Underground

Who's Really Blaming America?
October 13, 2001
By Morris Smith

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I remember back when conservatives believed what they said.

I remember Jean Kirkpatrick inveighing against people on the left who didn't hold people responsible for their actions. "When Marxist dictators shoot their way into power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies, they blame United States policies of one hundred years ago, but then they always blame America first." She offered that pearl of wisdom a scant 17 years ago, at the 1984 Republican National Convention.

How then to explain the depths the Republican Party has sunk to today? When terrorists slam airplanes into the World Trade Center what do they do? They blame America first.

Consider the evidence.

Dana Rohrabacher (within hours of the attack!): "We had Bill Clinton backing off, letting the Taliban go, over and over again."

The New York Post: Clinton promised to track down [terrorists worldwide] - and he didn't. This sent a signal that U.S. interests at home and abroad were open to attack... the man's lack of self-control caused him to ignore his primary responsibility - keeping America and its citizens safe. And the price for that irresponsibility is being paid now."

Newt Gingrinch: "The Clinton policy [has] failed."

Andrew Sullivan: "When a senior Clinton official [says] that Clinton 'spent less concentrated attention on national defense than any other President in recent memory,' and when this presidency is followed by the most grievous breach of domestic security in American history, it is not unreasonable to demand some accounting. With each passing day, the Clinton legacy gets darker and darker."

Oliver North: "The finger of blame ought to be pointed where it belongs -- at the tawdry tenure of William Jefferson Blythe Clinton."

The new "Blame America First" crowd is perfectly content to let the terrorists off the hook, as long as it affords them another chance to bash their favorite target. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the point of Jeanie's little rant was that if Marxist dictators shoot their way into power, it's the Marxists dictators who should be held responsible for it. Taking responsibility for one's own actions and all that. It's supposed to be a tenet of conservatism.

Obviously it's been replaced by hypocrisy.

Now, the right seems driven to lay the fault for the worst attack on Americans in American history at the feet of a fellow American.

But the problem is a far greater one than simple hypocrisy. This denotes a true pathology on the part of the right. They're like the little kid in "The Sixth Sense," except they see Clinton everywhere. Everything they see as wrong and evil, in this country and abroad, Clinton is at the root of it. It's part of the reason that they were never successful at bringing him down. People recognize rabidity when they see it.

If it's true that generals always fight the last war, then it's equally true that ideologues always try to rewrite the results of the last election. Especially if they lost.

And make no mistake that's what this is about. We've been subjected to a decade of the most concentrated smear job ever devoted to one human being. All because the right can't seem to bring themselves to face the truth. They lost.

They lost in 92. They lost in 96. They lost in 2000. And they cannot forgive Clinton for beating them time and time again or themselves for being beaten by him.

But most of all, they can't forgive America for being the instrument of their defeat. And this is where the right makes their biggest mistake.

For, in blaming Clinton for everything under the sun, including 9/11, they miss the larger point. They're really blaming the people who elected him, the people who re-elected him and the people who still respect him today. In other words, America.

Sometimes, I marvel at the Big Dog's ability to have those who are arrayed against him forget their past ideas, lose their so-called principles, forsake the American public and drop everything, in a blind desire to get him one last time. The new "Blame America First" crowd can't possibly believe that this latest attempt will be successful in bringing down their target. Any rational person can see that this says a lot more about them than the target. But then I remember the true genius of Clinton.

The genius of Bill Clinton is not that he always defeats his enemies. His real genius is how he always causes his enemies to defeat themselves.