Marginal charges

Donald Lambro of the Washington Times doubts that Richard Clarke’s charges against President Bush will amount to much. He thinks that “Americans know Monday-morning quarterbacking when they see it, and they know the difference between leadership and playing politics in the midst of a campaign.” Lambro notes that Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institute, a Bush critic, agrees with him. According to O’Hanlon, Clarke’s charges “will not have much traction because what he’s charging is not that new and not that specific. . . I’m not aware of anything specific that Clarke recommended we do before September 11 that really could have stopped this. If one had been a lot more vigilant, there are things we could have done but it’s easy to say that in retrospect.” Nor does O’Hanlon fault Bush for looking at the possibilitly of an Iraqi link to 9/11: ‘”I can’t fault Bush on that one. I don’t think there was such a link, but who could be against a rigorous attempt to make sure?”
I agree that Clarke’s charges will probably have no real lasting impact and that Bush will continue to outpace Kerry substantially when it comes to voter confidence in the realm of anti-terrorism and national security. But I also expect a steady barrage of Clarke-type events between now and November, and the cumulative effect could well hurt Bush at the margin.

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