Katrina roils presidential politics

In hurricane's aftermath, is Clinton covering for Bush?

Published September 5, 2005 12:38AM (EDT)

Arianna Huffington has written a blistering critique of former President Bill Clinton's uncritical support for President Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Clinton has even gone so far, Huffington fumes, as to back the president's assertion that the watery ruin that Katrina visited upon New Orleans was unforseeable.

We too have noticed Clinton's reluctance to call out President Bush for his mistakes. Far from disparaging Bush's decision to invade Iraq, for instance, Clinton has offered the campaign his support. Now Clinton, who teamed up with George H.W. Bush on a tsunami relief effort, is best buddies with the president's father. All this is odd, because the Karl Rove Republicans with whom Clinton has declared a unilateral cease-fire would never extend him the same courtesy.

Is Clinton's friendly stance towards the administration a calculated move, made for the sake of the presidential ambitions of his wife Hillary, who herself has repaired her relationship with Newt Gingrich? It's admirable that Clinton is taking the moral high road, refusing to condemn a ruling party whose members set out ruthlessly to destroy him, but there must be a limit to his self-abnegation.

Huffington has this to say about Clinton's motivation: "Is his need to be a part of this country's wealth and power establishment so great that it blinds him to reality? Is his need to be fawned over so desperate that he has forgotten how to speak the truth?" Perhaps he is blinded to reality. Perhaps he's subordinating his personal beliefs to the exigencies of his wife's career. Or perhaps he takes his role as an ex-president, who must be above all dignified and diplomatic, too seriously.

Whatever the case, Clinton ought to consider whether he would serve his country better by telling the truth about George W. Bush's blundering presidency.

By Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney is a writer in San Francisco. He has a blog.

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