Friday, March 17, 2006

The modified limited hangout route

For those of you who are not as old as I am (my congratulations), the title of this post is a phrase uttered back in the '70s, during the Watergate scandal. A Nixon aide coined it as a synonym for a partial mea culpa. It sprang to mind this morning when I read David Frum's latest observations of his old boss, President Bush.
Ex-White House speechwriter Frum wrote a book a few years ago extolling Bush as "The Right Man" for the era. But now he's wrestling with that judgement. He does take note of what he calls "doubts and disappointments in (Bush's) performance," and says that performance has demontrated "the president's sometimes over-hasty decision-making, his disinclination to ask sufficiently probing questions, his aversion to detail, the overcentralization of decision-making, his often surprisingly poor personnel decisions, his unwillingness or inability to explain himself as fully and convincingly as a president ought."
But, for Frum, there's still a silver lining: "we need to remember how many of the problems of today originate in the drift and weakness of the 1990s."
Let's see...who was president during the '90s...of course! Whatever Bush's failings might be, in then end, it's all Bill Clinton's fault.

But lest anyone think that I am a reflexive Clinton defender, allow me to dispel the notion. It's not my job to build up or knock down Hillary Clinton's '08 presidential candidacy, because a journalist's first priority is to follow the facts where they go. The fact is that many Democrats are privately nervous that Hillary's past baggage might be too heavy for a future White House bid -- and this story in Editor & Publisher, a journalism magazine, demonstrates the point.
H0llywood gumshoe Anthony Pellicano, fresh from prison, has cut quite a swath in Tinseltown's seamy underside, as reported here and elsewhere. But, as E&P points out, the major media have said virtually nothing about Pellicano's long ties to the Clintons, in whose employ he cleaned up various "bimbo eruptions" during the '90s, including spreading false information about Gennifer Flowers. As E&P says, "Did the current front-running Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Clinton hire or direct any or all of Anthony Pellicano’s activities in her particular known area of interest? You have to totally lack journalistic curiosity or be brain dead to miss an opportunity like this."
Bimbo eruptions...the '90s...maybe this is what Frum meant by "drift and weakness."