Think Progress has a transcript of an interview that Chris Wallace of Fox News did with President Bill Clinton, one of many as part of a massive press tour Clinton has been doing this week. I really enjoyed seeing him on the Today Show, and I'm really pissed that I missed him on the Daily Show.
You can read the transcript for yourself, and I suggest you do so right now. If you'll just stick with me for a few minutes though, I'd like to take another angle on this and kick around Chris Wallace for fun and profit.
WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said “I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops.” Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole.
WALLACE: …may I just finish the question sir. And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20.
CLINTON: No let’s talk about…
WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?
The first thing I'd like to point out here is that when a former President interrupts you, you shut your mouth. It doesn't matter what side of the fence you are on, or what level of respect you hold the person in. When a President starts talking, you stop.
Beyond that, "…may I just finish the question sir" - I'm going to have to say no Chris, because while you did actually ask a question, you didn't give the former President of the United States a chance to answer it; you immediately followed it up with a number of statements. There were in fact three statements following your question, therefore you aren't asking anything, you were making a speech. After the President interrupts your speech while trying to answer your question, you cut him off. Who the hell do you think you are? I don't recall Brian Williams ever interrupting Bush during his recent Oval Office interview, so I suggest you watch the tape and learn how it's done, bitch.
WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?
CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.
Wow, who thought such a thing existed. A President that told the truth, even though it makes him look bad. Have you ever in your life seen President Bush say something like that? I didn't think so. I could make Clinton's point right here and now, but he's already done the job.
CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t…I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke… So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..
WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir…
WALLACE: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?
Again, if Chris Wallace ever treated President Bush with this much disrespect, he'd be banned from the White House press room. I am shocked anyone would act like this - but I'm trying to get over it since it is Fox News after all. You get more professional courtesy and respect on Comedy Central.
What's great here is that Wallace is getting all pissed off because Clinton both answered his question and then attacked President Bush, and used Wallace's question to do it. The papers have reported that a special military task force that was tasked with hunting Bin Laden since 9/11 was disbanded (I think last year) by President Bush. Wallace's hero put a permanent end to the hunt for Bin Laden. President Bush has never gotten within sniffing distance of Bin Laden in over six years, while Clinton had him smiling on the camera of an unmanned (and unarmed) drone. But Wallace will have none of this attacking his hero. He asked a question, and god damn you blow-job-boy, you're gonna answer it!
But wait, he did...
WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?
CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.
So now it appears that not only can't Wallace understand the difference between a basic question and a statement, he can't comprehend that Clinton already answered his question. It may be because Fox News people are trained from birth to simply talk, and not listen. It could be that the audience is trained to expect politicians never to answer questions. It could be that Chris Wallace is a dick.
At this point President Clinton, having already answered Wallace's question, turns the tables and demands to know if Wallace and Fox News have asked the administration why they never did a single thing about the U.S.S. Cole bombing, and why they fired the country's preeminent expert on terrorism, Richard Clarke.
Wallace's response is that Fox has asked a lot of other questions, other perfectly good questions, just not those questions. Of course not, because the answers to those questions would make the administration look horribly incompetent. Why hasn't the administration ever done anything about the Cole? Why hasn't anyone been caught and punished? Why was it allowed to happen in the first place? What have they done?
WALLACE: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan there’s plenty of stuff to ask.
CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on climate change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…
CLINTON: You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.
Wallace's only response to a former President of the United States is to laugh in his face. Wallace has no answer to President Clinton; Republicans have no answers and no ideas for the American people. Fox has never held the administration responsible for the Cole, and has no excuse or reason for firing our very best man on terrorism. Wallace booked Clinton to talk about Clinton's global initiative to combat global warming, and all he gets is amateur-hour barbs from a partisan hack that isn't suitable to host Entertainment Tonight, or write for a tabloid print mag.
The truth is, if our unmanned drones had been armed during the Clinton administration (yes President Bush, yes Mr. Wallace, you can thank President Clinton for having those drones by the way) Bin laden probably would have been dead before Bush even took office.
Rather than dedicate the full force of our military to finding and destroying Bin Laden and Al-Qeada, Bush decided to conquer an oil-rich Middle Eastern country that "tried to kill my daddy." Now our troops are stuck there, and may not be able to leave for a decade. Terrorists run free because Bush placed revenge over the safety of our people. He fired our best man on terrorism, and shut down the elite military force that was hunting Bin Laden. We're talking about like 14 guys here, when we could have 50,000 out there.
Our borders are open, and our port cargo goes un-searched. Instead of finding Bin Laden, Republicans are trying to ban same-sex marriage and flag burning and then spy on its own citizens.
Rather than address the reality of global warming, conservative hacks on Fox News laugh in the face of the only President to oversee a budget surplus in the history of our country. Jobs were up, the economy was booming. The country was united. We were safe. We had a President that cared.
And they laugh.
We'll see who is laughing this fall.
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