March 24, 2004

Remembering the 'W' keys

When George W Bush came into office, there were a number of juvenile pranks played on the incoming staff. From destroying the W keys on keyboards at the White House to cutting phone lines to more serious vandalism like proposing last minute policy changes that were unsupportable by any US administration but would cause trouble with core Democrat groups when they inevitably were rolled back, this was a very contentious transition. In classy style, the Bush administration kept few records of the petty stuff and refrained from too much finger pointing about Clinton's last minute antics. But it did take a few weeks to undo the physical sabotage and several months to go through a thorough review of all the policy and regulatory sabotage.

So why is this ancient history of dirty tricks relevant today? Isn't it time to move on? Not so fast, as the period in question is crucial to the Clarke accusation that the incoming Bush administration was rudderless in the early part of the administration with regards to terrorism and that there was a secret Clinton plan handed over during the transition that the Bush administration refused to act on.

Given a civilized transition, this would be a serious charge. But nobody is looking back at the horrible partisanship of the transition period and asking the question, would it have been reasonable to accept a Clinton plan on much of anything, much less the vital issue of terrorism at face value? If one of Clinton's little policy jokes was embedded in this supposed plan (the Bush administration denies there even was a plan) it could have had long-lasting negative effects for the country.

I wonder whether Clarke, who must have seen the chaos from both sides as both a Clinton and Bush staffer, thinks of that period.

Posted by TMLutas at March 24, 2004 12:52 PM