Are you now or have you ever been a conservative or a Christian?
That's the new loyalty oath propagated by The Nation, which just published a long column "exposing" the fact that the director of ABC's docudrama "The Path to 9/11," David Cunningham, is the son of a fundamentalist Christian, and may in fact himself be a Christian:
"Cunningham is no ordinary Hollywood journeyman. He is in fact the son of Loren Cunningham, founder of the right-wing evangelical group Youth With a Mission ..."
Christians in film and TV? Horrors! Root out these evil alien influences lock, stock and barrel!
About 13 million Americans watched "The Path to 9/11" this week, about the same number as viewed Katie Couric's newsreader, um "anchor," debut. I was not one of them, in either case: I don't normally watch network news, and I consider the docudrama a particularly repellent genre.
Nor am I especially interested in dwelling on who could be blamed (other than Islamofascists) for 9/11. I presume that Bill Clinton, for all his obvious flaws, is a normal, patriotic American who, if he had recognized the danger and known how to prevent it, would certainly have done so. I didn't see the 1993 World Trade Tower attack as the start of World War III, and neither did anyone else I know, including the Clinton administration. There is a lot of water under that bridge, and obsessive hatred of Bill Clinton bores me.
And yet the hissy fit Bill Clinton and his former colleagues threw calling for ABC to pull this TV movie is also deeply repellent.
It's not just that Bill Clinton is married to the leading Democractic candidate for the presidency (who might have a lot to say about television broadcast regulation), or that Harry Reid, who called on ABC to pull the movie, could be Senate majority leader in a few months. No, it is the sheer chutzpah of Clinton's National Security Adviser Samuel R. ("Sandy") Berger, complaining that ABC is tinkering with the historical record.
Here is how The Washington Post reported Berger's criminal conviction in April 2005, for, let us say, less-than-pristine concerns about preserving the historical record:
"Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger, a former White House national security adviser, plans to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and will acknowledge intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document about the Clinton administration's record on terrorism. ... The deal's terms make clear that Berger spoke falsely last summer in public claims that in 2003 he twice inadvertently walked off with copies of a classified document during visits to the National Archives, then later lost them. ...
"Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.
"... Berger's archives visit occurred as he was reviewing materials as a designated representative of the Clinton administration to the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The question of what Clinton knew and did about the emerging al-Qaida threat before leaving office in January 2001 was acutely sensitive, as suggested by Berger's determination to spend hours poring over the Clarke report before his testimony."
Over the years, historians and dramatists will produce many, many versions of "The Path to 9/11." If Bill Clinton wishes in the future to complain about historical inaccuracies, I suggest he first answer one question:
What handwritten notes, and by whom, were on the three copies of classified documents (out of five) that Sandy Berger chose to steal and cut up with scissors in 2003, smack in the middle of the 9/11 commission's investigation?
When we know the answer to that question, Bill, then and only then will you be entitled to complain about historical inaccuracies in the record.
(Readers may reach Maggie Gallagher at MaggieBox2006@yahoo.com.)
COPYRIGHT 2006 MAGGIE GALLAGHER