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Hume: The Bush Administration Didn’t Really Blame Clinton For 9/11

By Amanda Terkel on April 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm

"Hume: The Bush Administration Didn’t Really Blame Clinton For 9/11"

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Last week on Hannity, former Florida governor Jeb Bush implored Obama to stop criticizing his brother’s legacy. “If I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing everything in the context of, ‘Everything was bad before I got here,’” said Bush.

Today the panelists on Fox News Sunday discussed these comments, and whether Obama is out of bounds by invoking his predecessor’s failed policies. Even Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that it’s normal for presidents to blame current problems on their predecessors. “The Democrats blamed Herbert Hoover for everything for about 20 years, and the Republicans blamed Jimmy Carter for everything for quite awhile,” said Kristol.

When NPR news analyst Juan Williams then pointed out that President Bush and his administration officials also often blamed the Clinton administration for their problems, Fox News’s Brit Hume jumped in and said, “There was very little of that”:

WILLIAMS: This is just politics. That’s what you do. You blame your predecessor and you do it for as long as possible because it buys you time. And even after 9/11, all the Bush administration officials were pointing out, “Hey, what about that Bill Clinton? Why didn’t he do a better job with getting the terrorists when he had the opportunity?”

HUME: There was very little of that.

WILLIAMS: Well, it was around. In fact, I think Bill Clinton got into it with you [Wallace] about just that point.

HUME: Yeah, but Chris doesn’t represent the Bush administration.

WALLACE: I don’t remember that exchange. (LAUGHTER)

Watch it:

In fact, in a September 2006 interview with the New York Post editorial board, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received considerable attention for placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of President Clinton:

Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11. … We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida. For instance, big pieces were missing, like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren’t going to get Afghanistan.

In a speech on Aug. 30, 2005, Bush said that three out of his four predecessors — excluding his father — didn’t respond sufficiently to crises, which emboldened terrorists and led to 9/11:

They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lacked the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy. … After September the 11th, 2001, we’ve taught the terrorists a very different lesson: America will not run in defeat and we will not forget our responsibilities.

On the domestic front, Bush and his advisers also repeatedly said that they “inherited a recession” from Clinton.

Transcript:

WALLACE: Well, let’s talk about the blame game, because this week, Bill, Jeb Bush — the president’s younger brother — weighed in on the Obama administration’s tendency to blame their problems on the former president. Let’s watch.

(VIDEO)

WALLACE: Bill, is it smart politics for the Obama administration to keep blaming the Bush administration for their problems, and how is it going to work?

KRISTOL: It’s probably smart politics, and they’ll keep doing it as long as it seems to be working. The Democrats blamed Herbert Hoover for everything for about 20 years, and the Republicans blamed Jimmy Carter for everything for quite awhile. One can say it’s not very polite for a sitting president to refer explicitly to his predecessor, especially while abroad. I don’t think Reagan did that about Carter; I’m not sure Roosevelt did that about Herbert Hoover.

There’s a general matter, I believe — Most intelligent Democrats watching this show are perfectly happy to have Jeb Bush, Karl Rove out there defending the Bush administration and making the choice between Obama’s new policies and the allegedly failed policies of Bush.

WALLACE: So, you think that this is smart? This is working?

KRISTOL: Yeah. Yeah.

WILLIAMS: This is just politics. That’s what you do. You blame your predecessor and you do it for as long as possible because it buys you time. And even after 9/11, all the Bush administration officials were pointing out, “Hey, what about that Bill Clinton? Why didn’t he do a better job with getting the terrorists when he had the opportunity?”

HUME: There was very little of that.

WILLIAMS: Well, it was around. In fact, I think Bill Clinton got into it with you about just that point.

HUME: Yeah, but Chris doesn’t represent the Bush administration.

WALLACE: I don’t remember that exchange. (LAUGHTER)

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