Even the lamest sportswriter could not have written anything as inane as this piece by E.J. Dionne. Dionne’s starting point is Bill Clinton’s recent praise of Donald Rumsfeld. Clinton told a Washington Post reporter that he respected Rumsfeld’s efforts to modernize and streamline the military. Dionne says that there is nothing odd about this, and he is right. Clinton acts entirely in character when he tries to jump on the bandwagon of a successful and admired leader. But this isn’t what Dionne meant. He meant that many of the weapon systems used in the recent war were tested and procured, or modernized and expanded, during the Clinton administration. From this, Dionne concludes that Democrats should not be afraid of Republicans when it comes to defense issues.
Let’s put to one side the distortions in Dionne’s claim that Clinton did not short- change the Defense Department. What truly differentiates Rumsfeld from Clinton is the fact that Clinton was unwilling to use our defense systems to protect our national security interests (peferring to use them to promote other interests, such as the agenda of the Congessional Black Caucus in Haiti). It is for that reason, and because Democrats as a group are at least as reluctant as Clinton was, that Democrats are justifiably afraid of the defense issue, and why voters remain afraid of Democrats.
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