One of the problems of traveling when the blogosphere is all abuzz over a certain topic is that by the time I sit down to write about it, it seems some other bloggers have already said pretty much everything I wanted to say. Given the malfunction of my cassette player somewhere in the Rockies, I listened to much talk radio during my return journey of well over 1,000 miles. (For some reason when I drive long distances I prefer to hear voices, be it talk radio or books on tape than to listen to music.)
As I listened to the news and commentary on how Clinton’s people were trying in Roger Simon’s words to “suppress ABC’s 9/11 miniseries,” The Path to 9/11, I thought the Democratic former president and his supporters were giving the show free publicity. The controversy the former President was helping generate would make more people aware of the program. On returning home, I found that Roger had already made that very point when he asked, “Is Bill Clinton in the pay of ABC?”
Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds referenced a comment with which I also agree “This firestorm is a lose-lose for Dems. Any rational voter can compare the Bush reaction to Farenheit 911 and the current Clinton reaction, and draw appropriate conclusions.“
As I headed home on the various interstates of the Southwest, I heard some talk show hosts, who had seen the entire miniseries, point out that the part which focused on President Bush’s first eight months in office showed that that Republicans was also “asleep as the wheel.” In other words, it painted both Administrations in a less-than-favorable light. And only the Democrats were getting upset.
To be sure, as one talking head noted, the Clinton Administration came off worse because that Democrat was in office for nearly eight full years after the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. That is, the miniseries devoted more time to that Administration than to the current one for the simply reason that it covered a time period beginning just over a month after Clinton began the first of his two four-year terms and ending less than eight months after his successor took office.
Instead of raising a ruckus over the supposed inaccuracies in the docudrama, Clinton might have better served his Administration’s legacy by pointing out all that his Administration had done to fight terrorism, perhaps asking ABC for time after the docudrama aired to “set the record straight.” By behaving in the manner he has, Clinton comes across as a whiner who can’t take criticism, hardly the statesman he aspires to be. As the commenter cited above noted, Bush’s people didn’t get as upset over the distortions in Michael Moore‘s movie.
Perhaps one way to handle the objections is to follow the example of Showtime, the cable network that eventually aired “The Reagans” after CBS decided the film was too slanted to be salvageable. After the movie aired, it showed a live panel discussion featuring former Reagan administration officials Martin Anderson and Linda Chavez along with Reagan critic Hilary Rosen and the film’s co-producer, Carl Anthony. The group offered much thoughtful commentary on the historical liberties taken by the film and discussed the risk that docudramas might distort the way Americans remember real-life events. It’s fine for Sandy Berger and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to complain to ABC, but here’s hoping they are also willing to step forward and publicly defend their actions regardless of the final version of the film that ABC airs.
Had Clinton requested such a panel, he might have come across more as a statesman and less as a whiner. At the same time, he may have prevented the miniseries from generating the publicity it did.
And people say President Bush is averse to criticism. At least doesn’t dispatch his people to suppress criticism of his Administration. Nor does he badmouth them publicly as does his predecessor.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: In his post on 9/11, Michael Barone, one of the most sober columnists on the right, offers a somewhat sympathetic view of the Clintonites’ protest, concluding that few people, including himself, were really aware of the danger. He cites those who did warn us and concludes:
I don’t feel entitled to furiously condemn the Clinton and Bush administration officials who failed to see what I failed to see. The 9/11 attacks alone were condemnation enough. And not just of certain public officials but of all of us in a position to have an impact on public opinion who did not alert others to the danger we unknowingly faced.
Now just read the whole thing!
This was not a faux-documentary of the typeMichael Moore foisted as truth on a naïve public at election time, purporting to show reality through actual film clips, its corrupt director to be greeted with a prize seat at the Democratic convention.
I heard no Democrat ever complain about Oliver Stone’s numerous mythodramas. And Bob Woodward writes docu-books all the time, with the inner most thoughts of his characters expressed when there is no way a reporter could ascertain their thoughts—and wins a Pulitzer. Look at the recent Cobra II and discover pseudo-footnotes like “unnamed senior official” or “Pentagon staff.”
And with anything by Victor Davis Hanson, the best advice is to read the whole thing!