It always strikes me as odd when people in the midst of a heated campaign accuse someone else of playing politics. It’s sort of like Britney Spears complaining that another entertainer is getting a little too liberal when it comes to midriff exposure. On one level it really doesn’t matter whether or not Richard Clarke is politically driven in choosing this moment to go public with his terror and Iraq-related charges. Either they’re valid points or they’re not. But let’s assume for a moment that no one on the Bush team would dare play politics during a campaign year and that the idea of being politically motivated can cost one the high ground (regardless of the facts) when it comes to making a public pronouncement. I still don’t think Richard Clarke simply playing politics – and not just because he has already stated he will not accept any position within a Kerry administration (too bad Chalabi wouldn’t offer the same when it comes to his own governmental ambitions).
Here’s why it’s not political: It’s way too early. If you have a bombshell set to detonate to do the most damage to an opposing campaign, better to start the timer in the last few weeks of the process, not eight months before November. Voters may not even remember Richard Clarke by the time they get to their polling places.
Another illogical response to the Clarke charges is that President Bush did the right thing by focusing on Iraq and that any good leader would have demanded that his underlings look into the possibility that Saddam was involved — It would have been a dereliction if W hadn’t asked the question. OK, that argument works. But it only works if Bush had demanded similar investigations into possible links with other (more likely) suspects such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, other terror groups, etc. It only works if Bush hadn’t spent the next year making allusions to a link between Osama and Saddam. And it only works if Bush hadn’t launched a war on Iraq long after he received reports indicating that there was no connection between Saddam and Sept 11.