Tom Brokaw was playing government watchdog the other night, interviewing Condoleezza Rice right in the middle of the "NBC Nightly News." Now the evening anchors almost never do interviews during their newscasts, so you have to assume that Brokaw had something very important to ask. But how could you take Brokaw's questioning seriously after watching him swallow whole Richard Clarke's rotten-egg notion that fighting terrorism was Job One in the Clinton years?
The Brokaw transcript read like this: "Mr. Clarke said today that terrorism was the highest priority of the Clinton administration. It was important to you, but it was not the highest priority. Any student, I think, of the early days of your administration might have thought that China, Russia, Iraq, missile defense systems, were probably higher on the president's agenda."
Rice could have responded by falling out of her chair with laughter. Terrorism, the highest priority of the Clinton administration?
Or she could have responded with a list of the real Clinton foreign policy priorities:
1. Maintaining Clinton's approval ratings. This would include ineffective military strikes on terrorist targets and pharmaceutical factories, transparently timed to shift the news media's attention away from inconvenient topics like impeachment and lying under oath about sexual sloppiness.
2. Building Clinton's legacy and his chances for a Nobel Peace Prize. This would include ruling out any U.S. response to the killing of Americans on the U.S.S. Cole, since it might have jeopardized Clinton's end-of-term Middle East "peace" partnership with Yasser Arafat.
3. Globe-trotting apologies for everything America has done in its history, real or imagined. This correlates to No. 2, see: Nobel Prize, pandering for.
4. Broadening "national security" to include panicked theorizing about global warming from cattle flatulence and other imminent threats. Al Gore told Clinton Earth was hanging in the balance.
5. Fighting the bad guys with that intimidating tool, the treaty designed to ban weapons and weapons testing. Let's not forget how this exercise in Realpolitik affected North Korea. They signed a treaty with Clinton to end weapons development in exchange for aid, which it began violating with impunity about two minutes later.
6. Shaping military-technology export policy to fit the demands of campaign contributors, both domestic and the illegal foreign kind.