The Bush smear machine has kicked into overdrive.
Clarke's revelations are not only credible, they are being covered heavily by a media corps that has previously given Bush pass after pass. They come after the Presidential campaign has begun in earnest. They coincide with the expectation that the Bushies will be testifying before the 9/11 panel. They go right to the heart of what Bush thinks is his greatest strength: his response to terrorism.
So the Bushies are spinning so hard that they are screwing themselves into the ground. The entire administration has gone into full damage control. The mission: smear, smear, smear, deflect, deflect, deflect. Do anything to discredit Clarke, even if you have to lie through your teeth.
Cheney decided to mount the attack by going on the Rush Limbaugh program. Why, I have no idea, since the pill-popper's audience is already on Bush's side, and that isn't who he has to convince. But he did. And he came across as thoroughly insane and totally out of touch with reality.
He accused Clarke of being a partisan Democrat.
Clarke, of course, is a Republican who has worked for the last FOUR administrations - one Democrat and THREE Republicans.
He said Clarke was "out of the loop on a lot of this stuff."
Clarke was the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. How could the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator be "out of the loop" on Counter-Terrorism?
Even some Republicans are coming to Clarke's defense. Chuck Hagel (R-Somewhat Sane) says, "This is a serious book written by a serious professional who's made serious charges, and the White House must respond to these charges." God bless Chuck for having the guts to state the obvious.
Meanwhile, the 9/11 commission is condemning the inaction of both the Bush AND Clinton administrations. This MIGHT seem to give Bush an out - blame everything on Clinton - but it doesn't: Clinton isn't the one he's running against. It's 2004 and the condemnation of BUSH is the only one that is currently relevant.
The White House is hoping that simply attacking Clarke personally will work.
But it won't. The man has served too well for too long and too many people - including many Republicans - respect him greatly.
The press has stopped giving Dubya a free pass on every piece of crap that comes out his mouth. And the Bushies have yet to adjust to that new reality. The think it's STILL October of 2001, and Bush's lies will still go unchallenged.
The Bushies thought that having the conventiion in New York City in September was a tremendous political idea. But now they face the prospect of holding the same convention while questions about Bush's negligence and/or culpability hang in the air over Manhattan.
Bush may actually be in trouble. The perception that he was tough on terrorism, honest and forthright was his ONLY positive quality in the eyes of many - perhaps MOST - Americans. If he loses that - and he is - he has nothing.