I trust it’s not too late for the Bush administration to speak up on its own behalf in the way that Vice Presient Cheney did yesterday: “Cheney slams Clinton as soft on terrorists.” In a speech before 500 Republicans at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, thus spake Cheney:
The vice president lashed Mr. Clinton for his administration’s weak responses to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, an Air Force compound in Saudi Arabia, U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole in the waters off Yemen.
Those attacks killed 74 Americans and left hundreds more wounded. In one retaliation, Mr. Clinton bombed sites in Sudan and Afghanistan that later turned out to have little or no value.
“Repeatedly, [terrorists] had struck America with little cost or consequence,” the vice president told 600 supporters at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. “In none of these cases did the United States respond very forcefully.”
But all that has changed since President Bush took office, he said. “Under President Bush’s leadership, we answered that challenge with decisive and relentless action. We did not fire million-dollar cruise missiles into empty tents, or drop bombs from 30,000 feet on abandoned obstacle courses. Instead, America launched a broad and sustained war on terrorist networks around the globe.”
The New Orleans Times-Picayune account of the speech focuses on the specific case Cheney made for war against Saddam Hussein: “Cheney courts Louisiana votes in visit.” Is it too much to hope that the vice president will now make a speech piecing together the evidence that al Qaeda seeks the victory of John Kerry over President Bush in November? That might drive the media over the cliff.