Reminder of GOP Attacks on Clinton's Motives & Honesty re: Iraq & Kosovo
Does one become "unpatriotic" by making such allegations only with respect to this Administration and this military action, or does it always make one "unpatriotic" to argue that a President engaged in military action under false pretenses and for his own motives?
This question asks itself in light of these patriotism attacks, because it wasn't too long ago that GOP politicians and pundits were making exactly these same allegations against President Clinton with respect to his decision to bomb Iraq, to shoot cruise missles at Osama bin Laden, and to intervene in Kosovo.
A stroll down memory lane:
Rep. Dick Armey, GOP Majority Leader
"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack [on Iraq] is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement. "After months of lies, the president has given millions of people around the world reason to doubt that he has sent Americans into battle for the right reasons."
Rep. Gerald Solomon (R - NY)
"It is obvious that they're (the Clinton White House) doing everything they can to postpone the vote on this impeachment in order to try to get whatever kind of leverage they can, and the American people ought to be as outraged as I am about it," Solomon said in an interview with CNN. Asked if he was accusing Clinton of playing with American lives for political expediency, Solomon said, "Whether he knows it or not, that's exactly what he's doing."
Sen. Dan Coats
Coats, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement, "While there is clearly much more we need to learn about this attack [on Osama bin Laden] and why it was ordered today, given the president's personal difficulties this week, it is legitimate to question the timing of this action."
Sen. Larry Craig, U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee
The foregoing review of the Clinton Administration's prevarications on Kosovo would not be complete without a brief look at one other possible factor in the deepening morass. Consider the following fictional situation: A president embroiled in a sex scandal that threatens to bring down his administration. He sees the only way out in distracting the nation and the world with a foreign military adventure. So, he orders his spin-doctors and media wizards to get to work. They survey the options, push a few buttons, and decide upon a suitable locale: Albania.
The foregoing, the premise of the recent film Wag the Dog, might once have seemed farfetched. Yet it can hardly escape comment that on the very day, August 17, that President Bill Clinton is scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury to explain his possibly criminal behavior, Commander-in-Chief Bill Clinton has ordered U.S. Marines and air crews to commence several days of ground and air exercises in, yes, Albania as a warning of possible NATO intervention in next-door Kosovo. . . .
Not too many years ago, it would not have entered the mind of even the worst of cynics to speculate whether any American president, whatever his political difficulties, would even consider sending U.S. military personnel into harm's way to serve his own, personal needs. But in an era when pundits openly weigh the question of whether President Clinton will (or should) tell the truth under oath not because he has a simple obligation to do so but because of the possible impact on his political "viability" -- is it self-evident that military decisions are not affected by similar considerations? Under the circumstances, it is fair to ask to what extent the Clinton Administration has forfeited the benefit of the doubt as to the motives behind its actions.
GOP Activist Paul Weyrich
Paul Weyrich, a leading conservative activist, said Clinton's decision to bomb on the eve of the impeachment vote "is more of an impeachable offense than anything he is being charged with in Congress."
Wall St. Journal Editorial Board
"It is dangerous for an American president to launch a military strike, however justified, at a time when many will conclude he acted only out of narrow self-interest to forestall or postpone his own impeachment"
Sen. Trent Lott, GOP Majority Leader
"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time," Lott said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."
Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-NY)
"Never underestimate a desperate president," said a furious House Rules Committee Chairman Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-N.Y.). "What option is left for getting impeachment off the front page and maybe even postponed? And how else to explain the sudden appearance of a backbone that has been invisible up to now?"
Rep. Tillie Folwer (R-Fla)
"It [the bombing of Iraq] is certainly rather suspicious timing," said Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-Florida). "I think the president is shameless in what he would do to stay in office."
Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum
First, it [intervention in Kosovo] is a "wag the dog" public relations ploy to involve us in a war in order to divert attention from his personal scandals (only a few of which were addressed in the Senate trial). He is again following the scenario of the "life is truer than fiction" movie Wag the Dog. The very day after his acquittal, Clinton moved quickly to "move on" from the subject of impeachment by announcing threats to bomb and to send U.S. ground troops into the civil war in Kosovo between Serbian authorities and ethnic Albanians fighting for independence. He scheduled Americans to be part of a NATO force under non-American command.
Jim Hoagland, Washington Post
"President Clinton has indelibly associated a justified military response ... with his own wrongdoing. ... Clinton has now injected the impeachment process against him into foreign policy, and vice versa"
Byron York, National Review
Instead of striking a strong blow against terrorism, the action [launching cruise missles at bin Laden] set off a howling debate about Clinton's motives. The president ordered the action three days after appearing before the grand jury investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair, and Clinton's critics accused him of using military action to change the subject from the sex-and-perjury scandal — the so-called "wag the dog" strategy.
Wall St. Journal editorial
"Perceptions that the American president is less interested in the global consequences than in taking any action that will enable him to hold onto power [are] a further demonstration that he has dangerously compromised himself in conducting the nation's affairs, and should be impeached"
Are all of those GOP political leaders and media pundits "unpatriotic" for questioning the veracity of Clinton's grounds for these military decisions and for questioning his motives in choosing them? Or was it OK to do that then but it's just not OK any longer?
UPDATE: One of Instapundit's principal defenders, Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom, replied to this post with a Comment. I replied to Goldstein's Comment in a new post, and he then replied to that post with a new reply on his site.