The rage of a relic

The column by John Fund on Paul O’Neill sounds several of the same themes that we touched on over the weekend and elaborates on them usefully: “The rage of a relic.” Fund, however, ignores O’Neill’s comments about the pre-9/11 planning for war to depose Saddam Hussein and the pre-war absence of “real evidence” of WMD.
I’m afraid that the war-related items will provide grist for the Weasel’s mill and keep O’Neill’s name from dropping out of the news for the foreseeable future. See, for example, the Weasel’s citation of O’Neill yesterday in New Hampshire: “Clark says he’s vindicated by O’Neill book.” Providing aid and comfort to Wesley Clark — shouldn’t that be a crime?
HINDROCKET adds: The administration’s pattern is to sit back when a bad story hits the news and try to ride out the storm. They seem to prefer a passive response to a quick, aggressive reaction. Unfortunately, that won’t work here. What administration spokesmen have said so far–something like, “No one listened to him when he was in office, why should anyone listen to him now?”–is pathetically inadequate. They need a response on the merits, and they need it now. People have known for a long time that O’Neill was working on an expose, and they should have been much better prepared for this.
In particular, the administration needs to focus on the O’Neill “revelations” that hurt Bush the most. The fact that O’Neill perceived Bush as “disengaged” doesn’t hurt; the claim that Bush was plotting to invade Iraq from the first days of his administration does. The administration needs a clear, simple response, which would show that O’Neill’s claim is factually incorrect. There are several obvious possibilities: he never attended a meeting of the National Security Council, or he never attended such a meeting in which Iraq was discussed. Or he was at such a meeting, but the discussion involved contingency planning that is routinely done for numerous trouble spots around the world, not just Iraq. Whatever the facts are, they need to come out. Now. Unfortunately, that isn’t the administration’s pattern. Most likely, they will continue to chase this story with too-little-too-late escalating responses, when a strong attack on O’Neill over the weekend could have robbed the story of much of its power.

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