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Return of the Episodic Apologists

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON -- They are back! I speak of the episodic apologists, who have been a phenomenon of the Clinton Saga since its earliest days, back when the Clintons were flipping real estate and exchanging bad checks in Arkansas. The episodic apologists, like the legendary court historians of Franklin Roosevelt's time, are an essential ingredient of the era in which they labor. The court historians gave us Roosevelt's "One Hundred Days," "He Saved Us From Communism" and other legends of the 1930s -- forget not, "He Ended the Great Depression."

The episodic apologists are admittedly somewhat different. Drawn from the ranks of journalists, historians and politicians, they have contributed more actively to the soap opera of the Clinton Saga than mere historians, for they are active participants in the drama. After every disappointment that the Clintons perpetrate, these saps go into an emotional tailspin: with all their trembling alases, forsooths and oh-woe-is-me's.

The Clintons were reputedly prodigies of public service; before he got caught with the fat intern, or the independent counsel fingered Hillary lying to the grand jury or scores of other scandals (Travelgate, Filegate, Bill's impeachment, the plundering of the White House, the presidential pardons). Then there was his performance in the 2008 election.

After every major Clintonian scandal, the episodic apologists go through their sorry act. The boobs are crestfallen. They denounce the Clintons in the firmest possible terms -- terms not easily erased from the public record. I have them all on file. Then, slowly and steadily, hope springs anew. Bill is "President of the World," according to MSNBC. Or Hillary's 2010 was a "good year," claims The Washington Post. Now along comes someone named Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post to note that all three Clintons have had their "best year" in 2011 -- "Mental note: Stop counting out the Clintons," he writes.

Cillizza brings in the hapless Chelsea, who has just signed a contract with NBC and been widely panned on her first interview. He praises a "fully rehabilitated" Bill Clinton for his new book, "Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy," a repudiation of much of what Bill did right in policy terms during his presidency when the boy president said, "The era of big government is over."

Yet Cillizza saves his most sanctimonious adulation for Hillary, who never lied to anyone, never obstructed justice and now, in 2011, "managed to stay gold" -- yes, gold, not golden.

Actually, in foreign policy, the problems are multiplying as she flies around the world -- "some 60 trips abroad and nearly 600,000 miles" -- in her ineffectual, bustling way. This secretary of state is no Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles or Henry Kissinger. She might not even by a Cyrus Vance. She is a frequent flier without a clue.

This week, a day after our last combat troops withdrew from Iraq, the fragile coalition there is falling apart as the Shiite-dominated government orders the arrest of its Sunni vice president. North Korea's tyrannical Kim Jong-il assumes room temperature, making way for his 28-year-old son, and as John Bolton says, "in defiance of all logic and history," the Obama administration continues to negotiate "food aid for more empty promises to denuclearize." Secretary of State Clinton has blundered in Egypt and Libya and, having prevailed on Morocco to liberalize, gives the king there no credit while awaiting the Muslim Brotherhood to warm up to us. The Arab spring has come and gone, winter is upon us, and we have fewer friends in the area than before.

Hillary famously tried to "reset" policy with Russia and now has Vladimir Putin crudely badgering her for supposedly sending "a signal" to marshal his enemies. Moscow has grown increasingly authoritarian; committed aggression against the pro-American state of Georgia; and supported our enemies, such as Venezuela and Syria. In response, Washington has pulled the plug on American allies Poland and the Czech Republic for supporting an American missile defense on their soil.

Then there is Iran. It is fast approaching the status of a nuclear power. It is as intransigent as ever. It is aiding terrorists intent on killing Americans. And Secretary of State Clinton steadfastly insists, "We want to see the Iranians engage ... We are not giving up."

These episodic apologists were part of the Clintons' supporting cast in the 1990s, and they were inadvertently a lot of fun. Now, when they encourage Secretary of State Hillary's ineptitude in time of war, they are not so amusing.

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