Morning after morning and evening after evening, the wrecking crews of the TV news have their brass knuckles out for the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and the war on terrorism. The starting point of any conversation is the assumption that at best, we've made no progress at all, and at worst, everything the president has done has only made terrorists stronger.
So where was this frenzy of "accountability" during the eight years of the Clinton administration, where every foreign policy failure, every diplomatic vacillation and empty military gesture was greeted with either a hallelujah chorus or a defensive group chant of "How dare those Republican haters question our brilliant leader?"
All those bad memories returned when former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made the rounds to promote her new book "Madam Secretary." The inquiries about the Clinton record were very limp and apologetic; the tributes to her pioneer status were fulsome; and the nasty or haughty things she said to interviewers went largely unchallenged.
NBC's Katie Couric was the warmest, preceding the "Today" interview with a taped piece claiming that Albright "defined her foreign goals from Day One" and earned a reputation for "tough talk" at the United Nations. (Saddam Hussein surely quaked in his boots.) She asked Albright to remember how she was mobbed with fans on an Amtrak train to New York after being named the Secretary of State. "You must have felt like a rock star," cooed Katie.
It went downhill from there. Couric brought up the Middle East, "in such disarray, and it is so discouraging." Albright tenderly recounted how hard she and Clinton had worked to give Yasser Arafat the best deal they could create for him, and denounced the Bush team for not continuing that coddling campaign. Couric suggested, "they're now very engaged." Amazingly, Albright replied: "Well, but two and a half years was lost, and thousands of people died."
Now why on Earth would Madeleine Albright lay thousands of deaths at the White House door over its supposed lack of engagement (read: agreement with Clinton) on Israel? If the game were linking deaths to a lack of presidential "engagement," Couric should have asked: Then wouldn't it be fair to say Clinton failed to prevent the massacre at Srebrenica? Or the wholesale slaughter in Rwanda? But Katie was silent.