The authors of this Time article go to great lengths to be fair to the Bush administration. But the upshot of the story is still pretty devastating. In the early months of the War on Terrorism we heard a heroic tale: the Bush administration had inherited a dawdling and feckless anti-terrorism policy from their predecessors. Through 2001 they were in a headlong rush to bring the country up to speed but couldn't quite make up all the lost time before the terrorists struck.
Let's call this the Andrew Sullivan version of events.
The truth was rather different. By definition some things didn't get done that should have been done in the late 1990s. But the out-going administration left its successors with a fairly detailed action plan for attacking al Qaida. Presidential transitions are unavoidably disorienting affairs. But there were more specific reasons the plan didn't get acted upon. The Bush team a) was more concerned with missile defense than terrorism and b) was unwilling to adopt a Clinton era plan until six or seven months had been spent repackaging it as a Bush-era plan. And therein lies a tale.
Now to other matters.
Earlier this morning I came home from doing a short segment on Fox and flipped on the TV. On Cnn Robert Novak was reading Senator Carl Levin a quote from fellow Senator Rick Santorum in which Santorum was claiming that only a double standard was keeping former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from being called before Congress to testify on his employer Citicorp's involvement in transactions which helped Enron hide losses.
It's time to say it: this is a stupid argument. It's being made by a) mau-mauing Republicans and their journalistic allies, b) morons, and c) chumps. Absent any new information those are really the only groups who can be involved. The first group I don't much begrudge. They're involved in a political fight and that's how the game is played. The second group requires no explanation. The rest are journalists -- largely, but not all, of vaguely liberal politics -- who have so long been slapped around and cowed by conservative complaints about liberal bias that the desired Pavlovian response has become second nature. In the seedy vernacular we call this being 'whipped.' The better analogy might be to the emotionally-damaged battered woman who perversely respects her abusive husband for keeping her in line.
It's not a pretty sight.