Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sound familiar?

From my current reading, a snippet that probably won't make it into my "more on" post... Robert Parry takes us back to the good old days of 1992, back before the Clintons had completely lost their minds:
The Clintons had a different perspective, too, when the insinuations about a person’s lack of patriotism were about Bill Clinton in fall 1992. As that campaign heated up, President George H.W. Bush unleashed his subordinates to dig up whatever dirt they could to impugn Clinton’s loyalty to his country.

Some of Bush’s political appointees rifled through Clinton’s passport file looking for an apocryphal letter from his student days in which Clinton supposedly sought to renounce his citizenship.

Though no such a letter was ever found, Bush exploited the mystery around Clinton’s passport files to raise questions about Clinton’s 1970 student trips to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, where he allegedly stayed with Communist friends.

With his patriotism challenged, Clinton saw his once-formidable lead shrink. Panic spread through the Clinton campaign. Ironically, one of the nervous Clinton’s aides who contacted congressional Democrats seeking their help in countering the Republican smears was George Stephanopoulos.

Bush's allies also put out another suspicion, that Clinton might have been a KGB “agent of influence.” Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times headlined that allegation on Oct. 5, 1992, a story that attracted President Bush’s personal interest.

“Now there are stories that Clinton … may have gone to Moscow as [a] guest of the KGB,” Bush wrote in his diary that day. [For the fullest account of the 1992 Passportgate case, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]


Sensing that the loyalty theme was hurting Clinton, President Bush kept stoking the fire. On CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Oct. 7, 1992, Bush suggested anew that there was something sinister about a possible Clinton friend maybe removing the apocryphal renunciation letter from Clinton’s passport file.


“I just think it’s wrong. I – that – maybe – they say, ‘well, it was a youthful indiscretion.’ I was 19 or 20 flying off an aircraft carrier and that shaped me to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and – I’m sorry but demonstrating – it’s not a question of patriotism, it’s a question of character and judgment.”

Clinton countered by challenging Bush directly.

“You have questioned my patriotism,” the Democrat shot back. Clinton then unloaded his own zinger: “When Joe McCarthy went around this country attacking people’s patriotism, he was wrong. He was wrong, and a senator from Connecticut stood up to him, named Prescott Bush. Your father was right to stand up to Joe McCarthy. You were wrong to attack my patriotism.”

Many observers rated Clinton’s negative comparison of Bush to his father as Bush’s worst moment in the debate. An unsettled Bush didn’t regain the initiative for the remainder of the evening.

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