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A study in contrasts

I recently got into a dustup on another blog about comparing the Bush administration with a couple of others in recent history, and an interesting comparison struck me. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it, but some interesting arguments could be made.

The left tends to blame President Bush for 9/11 -- some even going so far as to concoct insane conspiracy theories about how he "let" it happen, if not actually arranged it.

But I don't recall too many people blaming Bill Clinton for the fiery end of the siege of the Branch Davidians' compound in Waco, Texas, when 76 Americans, 27 of them children, all died.

On 9/11, it was clearly (whackos aside) an outside force that caused the deaths. In Waco, government agents had a direct hand in matters -- whether they inadvertently started the fire or simply prompted the Davidians to start it themselves.

Is it fair to blame Bush for 9/11? Is it fair to blame Clinton for Waco?

At the time, I was pretty firmly against blaming Clinton for it. I was firmly in the "they were crazy, and crazy people do crazy things" camp. By the current standards, though, I'm not so sure that I still feel that way.

Comments (33)

You forgot to add whether i... (Below threshold)

You forgot to add whether inadvertently or purposefully started it? talk about an event that should have had legitimate hearings instead of the Reno run around! those people were burned alive and were made out by the media to be crazy cult followers as some sort vindication for them being fried. the hypocrisy is stinking to high hell, and that single event was so disgusting to me that it galvanised me against the motives of the government,ATF whatever forever.

"At the time, I was pret... (Below threshold)
Bill M:

"At the time, I was pretty firmly against blaming Clinton for it. I was firmly in the "they were crazy, and crazy people do crazy things" camp. By the current standards, though, I'm not so sure that I still feel that way."

Yep, hard to keep your sanity while so many others around you are apparently loosing their own (if they ever had it in the first place).

I guess that's the differnece between left and right to some extent. While there were certainly plenty of wack-jobs about while Clinton was in office ("black helicopters, etc."), by far, very few on the right paid them much attention. They were obviously wack-jobs.

But the left seems to be completely out of control. There is little logic and apparently little recognition that their very own wack-jobs don't make sense. They seem to be in lockstep with them, and the more outrageous the charge, the more they rally around it.

What does the future hold? Who knows, but I suspect it will be interesting!

Whether or not we can offic... (Below threshold)

Whether or not we can officially "blame" him as in "ascribe culpability" we still can't shake the feeling that he was in some way, on some level, at fault. There is fault, and there is a direct cause/effect. Probably there is no direct cause and effect, but I think there is plenty of fault. And that's simultaneously more vague and insubstantial, but harder to shake off.

Wow, The silence is deafeni... (Below threshold)

Wow, The silence is deafening?

I didn't blame Clinton p... (Below threshold)

I didn't blame Clinton personally for the incident. I blamed the BATF under Janet Reno. And let us not forget Ruby Ridge. Reno should have been fired. I blame Clinton for his failure to hold her accountable. Reno made a career out of covering Clinton's butt, and Clinton covered hers in return. It is a sad story of collusion between the President and the Justice Department.

Hmmmm.Completely a... (Below threshold)


Completely and entirely off-topic in a ridiculous way.


You know I was looking at these blogads of yours Jay and I was thinking of perhaps taking one out. One of the things I've been thinking about is just how aggravating it would be to our fellows of the Left if there were a popular movement on the Right to have a new USN aircraft carrier named after a nearly forgotten US President.

Gentlemen, and ladies, I present you with:

The USS Richard Millhouse Nixon a ka "Tricky Dick".

ROFLAMO! The mouth-foaming madness would be vastly amusing. A little hard to justify $1,000 on a combination of a joke and a poke in the liberal's eye with a sharp stick.

But the idea is delicious.

I know a couple of guys (th... (Below threshold)

I know a couple of guys (there used to only be one, but it's spreading) who will look you striaght in the eye and tell you that the only reason 9/11 happened was because Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda hate George Bush.

When you point out that they were in the US training for the attacks a year before Bush was even a serious candidate, they just make disgusted noises and exclaim "you don't believe the official timeline, do you?

Is it better, when confront... (Below threshold)

Is it better, when confronting extreme logic, to counter with equally extreme logic in the other direction, or to counter with something balanced.

I usually like to hit back with "so your saying... extreme equivalent" and then move on to the balanced reasoning.

Ann Coulter does the former, and skips the later. If you don't know it a farce (on occasion, it hasn't been, and then I don't enjoy her), then the extreme position just looks stupid.

Also, the left has been good at making some counter arguments appear extreme, so that they are cut of from the discourse.

I don't know how to counter that, except by winning power.

"Tricky Dick" ha ha ha I l... (Below threshold)

"Tricky Dick" ha ha ha I love it!

ed: I think an Attack Nuc ... (Below threshold)

ed: I think an Attack Nuc sub would be more appropriately Freudianly phallic and otherwise objectionable.

For those of you who havnt ... (Below threshold)

For those of you who havnt accepted the truth about 9/11 yet, please watch this documentary (NOT LOOSE CHANGE)

Please, enjoy: Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime


Dunno if you ever lurked in... (Below threshold)

Dunno if you ever lurked in usenet but we thrashed this one over in alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater as it went down.
The consensus on the right was that it was the opening shot of the Ozark Longmarch. (NPI)
Reno had been in office only a few weeks and the boy president dropped it right in her lap. A Miami FL prosecutor know for her ineptness elevated to the Atty. Gen of the US, a tool in charge of the BATF that had a direct hand in the previous Randy Weaver/Ruby Ridge clusterf**k and an administration attempting to send a message to law abiding citizens that 'if you mess with us, we'll send you under the jail or worse'.
They didn't like people with Class III firearms permits or firearms ownership in general and they sent a message to the populace that did.

Also note that Clinton passed the 1994 Firearms legislation proposed and enacted by Sen(D) Dianne Feinstein that banned cosmetically incorrect semi-automatic firearms, high capacity clips and established a waiting period for pistol purchases shortly afterwards. (Now sunseted)

I still believe that it was the single largest violation of civil rights ever perpetrated by Fedco.

You can not logically argue... (Below threshold)

You can not logically argue with someone who is not being logical.

Emotional reasoning, which can be presented in a format that might appear logical superficially, does not respond logically. Whether the person is actually suffering from delusions, hallucinations or dementia, or their ability to view and think objectively is impaired by emotions, the result of attempting to logically argue with them is doomed to failure. This is complicated by the approach that many intelligent but emotionally impaired folks use when countering a logical argument against their illogical argument. They say that your emotions have blinded you to the stark truth of their argument, thus there is no point in them arguing with you.

How do you argue against that? You can not, logically.

You can walk away. You can escalate to verbal, emotional or physical abuse. Perhaps you can manipulate the disturbed persons emotions enough in a subtle manner so that they make themselves look ridiculous and discredit themselves for you (though they will rarely openly admit it). Or, if you are truly skilled and lucky, you may be able to angle in on what is really the underlying emotion, validate that and work on that issue with the person rather than the point they were illogically arguing.

I try the latter at home, but here I find baiting the trolls more satisfying...

As for blaming folks for Waco or 9/11, we all share the blame for allowing our government/society to ignore warning signs of trouble far in advance, and positioning itself in reactionary rather than preventive postures for dealing with such matters.

Now that we're done with the blame game, what the hell are we gonna do about the current problems and the ones on the horizon?

The 9-11 conspiracy nuts al... (Below threshold)

The 9-11 conspiracy nuts always make me chuckle. 1: What are the odds you could get a crack team of explosives experts to wire all the buildings (don't forget tower 7) without being questioned by the building maintaince engineers. Did they supposedly just walk in and plant explosives for 3-4 months without being noticed or asked for a work order? 2: What are the odds that each and every member of this supposed explosives team could keep quite all this time. The same people that say Bush planned this elaborate plot are the same one's that say Bush is just an idiot. Make up your mind.

Its true we dont pay enough... (Below threshold)

Its true we dont pay enough attention to warnings against our freedom - UBL declared war on us in 1993. We watched him for many years - didnt do much else while he secretly planned the attack on 9/11. Had nothing to do with who was president at the time - the Islamo-fascists hate our way of life and our religions and want Western society destroyed period.

Gmac,I guess you c... (Below threshold)


I guess you could call me a Clinton loather from way back, but I have never heard the term "Ozark Longmarch." Google is not particularly useful in shedding light on the subject. Where does this phrase originate? More info please.

I like the allusion, howeve... (Below threshold)

I like the allusion, however. [Gmac's Phrase]

alt.current-events.clinton.... (Below threshold)


Billy Beck III coined the phrase in response to something.
I suppose Beck might remember and there's an archive somewhere that would have it.

Hmmmm.1. The peopl... (Below threshold)


1. The people responsible for 9/11 were those that had deliberately crippled America's intelligence gathering and terrorist fighting abilities.

For some the bugbear of a potentially malignant American government was far more dangerous to them than the reality of terrorist desiring nothing more than the slaughter of American citizens at home. And in service to this irrational fear they did their utmost to America was incapable of defending itself.

2. If we had now the CIA of the 1950's many of the problems we currently have wouldn't be a factor. Would that mean targeted assassinations of people around the world? You bet.

For some people assassinations of any kind are wrong. I don't subscribe to this ideal. In my opinion if some Saudi is helping finance terrorists that are targeting Americans, then it's perfectly ok to garrote him in his bathtub.

3. Frankly Waco and Ruby Ridge were the fault of the FBI and it's Hostage Rescue Team. The leadership of the FBI and the HRT adopted a completely unprofessional cowboy attitude and this more than anything else was responsible for the deaths at both locations.

I think a better study in c... (Below threshold)

I think a better study in contrasts would be 9/11 and the accusations and circumstances surrounding the death of Ron Brown. (Do not infer by my comment that I subscribe to the various conspiracy theories.)

to the poster known as "is"... (Below threshold)

to the poster known as "is"....wonderful job of exemplifying the anti-Bush dementia....

The main contrast I notice is the fact that although there were several voices on the right that took the Clinton administration to task over both Ruby Ridge and Waco, you didn't see the multitudes of people lined up blaming Clinton personally for the atrocities.

Jay, the point with which I would take issue is that the Branch Davidians, while peculiar in their beliefs, were never demonstrably "crazy." They never were presented as a remarkable threat to public safety, and their leader, David Koresh, could have been apprehended prior to the beginning of the seige, likely without incident. That wasn't the goal of the BATF. The Branch Davidians were one thing that the liberal administration deems very hazardous...they were separatists, having little use for government meddling into their personal lives and choices, and equipping themselves to defend what they perceived to be their inalienable rights by force, if necessary.

Tragically that brand of defense was made necessary by the "compassionate" party.

Do some digging on the facts that came out during the hearings. Read the testimony of those who made the decision to fire flash-bang grenades into rooms occupied by women and infants. Read about the indiscriminant tear gassing of those men, women, and children within the compound. And remember that all of this stemmed from the government's suspicion that the Davidians may have been "stockpiling" weapons.

Still, your point about the differences between then and now is well-taken.

It seems that the Reno gang... (Below threshold)

It seems that the Reno gang was aching for a showdown with gun-toting, seperatist types so they set some up. There is no doubt these could have been avoided. I recall reading an investigative piece in AmSpec, which asked why the BATF could not have simply picked Koresh up during one of his fairly frequent visits to town. Instead they set up the gunfight at the OK Coral.

It is noteworthy that the folks at Ruby Ridge were officially exhonerated of nearly all charges. If memory serves me, I think Randy Weaver was finally found guilty of one count of sawing off a shotgun a hair too short for the BATF's tastes - and this was only after repeated requests from a BATF plant. Such an offense is hardly worth killing Weaver's wife and child over. Remembering the heavy handedness and injustice of the situation really makes my blood boil. Gee, thanks Jay!

I'm one of those that thoug... (Below threshold)

I'm one of those that thought the Clinton Administration (to include the enforcement arm of the Federal government) was complicit in the deaths of the Branch Davidians at Waco. I thought the use of military tanks against American civilians was abhorrent.

Of course, I was a kool-aid drinking nutter at the time as well, and pretty much remained that way until 9/11, when I had my moment of political clarity.

Hmmm.It i... (Below threshold)


It is noteworthy that the folks at Ruby Ridge were officially exhonerated of nearly all charges.

Not quite. The state attorney general indicted the HRT sniper, the one that killed Mrs. Weaver, with second degree murder but before it could go to trial federal prosecutors activated a federal law that allows the federal government to elevate any felony crime involving a firearm from state court to a federal court.

Where the federal prosecutors immediately dismissed the charges.

Frankly out of all this THAT is the most absurd and offensive thing of all.

"to the poster known as "is... (Below threshold)

"to the poster known as "is"....wonderful job of exemplifying the anti-Bush dementia...."

Jamie, I have no feeling, positive or negative towards Bush personally. If you don't accept the simple truism that 'power corrupts', and refuse to acknowledge any attempt to critise the government, dismissing it 'dementia'....I dont think I can help you. You seem to have slid to the bottom of the slippery slope.

Did you watch the documentary I linked? Or is it doubtlessly 'demented' and not worth your time?

Yes, "is" I actually destro... (Below threshold)

Yes, "is" I actually destroyed over an hour of my time (that can never be recovered) on the tripe to which you linked. And I stand by my assessment of said tripe, that you exemplified the lunatic fringe of the conspiracy theorists to which Jay referred in his original post.

Of course now you're going with "angle B" in which you assert that my own prejudices and dementia prevent me from understanding "the truth" or "the facts" you present in order to elighten us simple folk.

There truly is nothing new under the sun...

@ed at 10:05pm 5-13-06: </p... (Below threshold)
Jim B.:

@ed at 10:05pm 5-13-06:

1. The people responsible for 9/11 were those that had deliberately crippled America's intelligence gathering and terrorist fighting abilities.

No. I'm with you on most of what you say in this comment, but take a look at your own point 3, in which you (correctly, IMO) lay the responsibility for the deaths at Waco and Ruby Ridge upon those who fired the shots. "The people responsible for 9/11" were not our own (apprently inept, blindered or hobbled) intelligence people, they were the hijackers and the ones who financed them. No number of bureaucrats twiddling their thumbs in offices, and ignoring reports, would have brought those buildings down.

Focusing on Barney Fife rather than John Dillinger (sorry about mixing fantasy with reality there, but I hope you know what I mean) will tend to vitiate arguments that I think should be strong.

Sorry about the topic drift... (Below threshold)
Jim B.:

Sorry about the topic drift. I was so taken aback by that remark of ed's quoted above that I lost track of the original post.

Clinton could have pulled the plug on the Waco operation at any time. Yes, he's responsible, ultimately, as CinC. Reno was his employee.

Bush and 9/11? I see no similarity at all.

Interesting how so many of ... (Below threshold)

Interesting how so many of you are quick to run to the defense of cop killers. Or are BATF agents fair game in your eyes becaue they enforce gun laws you don't like? People seem pretty quick to gloss over the fact that the Waco standoff started when the Branch Davidians gunned down BATF agents with a legitimate warrant. If the FBI was raiding an al Qaeda cell, would you criticize them for being shot because they could have executed the warrant in a different manner? Nice to know the cop killers have so much support.

The BATF went into the comp... (Below threshold)

The BATF went into the compound with guns firing. They did A LOT to instigate the problem.

Again, they easily could have arrested Koresh away from the compound without a shot being fired. They didn't want to do that for whatever reason.

Jamie,The fact tha... (Below threshold)


The fact that bush had plans on his desk to invade afgahnistan on september 9th doesnt strike you as odd?

The PNAC don't strike you as imperialist warlords who had spelled out a plan for militarization of the middle east, a plan which 'trancends the issue of saddam hussien' in 2000, way before the 'war on terror'?

Are you saying these things arnt true, or that they are true and you don't care about them.

Do you think its right to kill tens of thousands of iraq's and i dont know how many american soldiers on a war that was a chase for WMD's that were never there, and were, BY THEIR OWN ADMISSION not the real object of the war in the first place?

I suppose youre in support of wire tapping innocent citizens as well? Or is that 'loony paranoid crap'?

"The fact that bush had pla... (Below threshold)

"The fact that bush had plans on his desk to invade afgahnistan on september 9th doesnt strike you as odd?"

The fact that every President in the last half of the century had similar plans for the same country should clue you into the idea that it really isn't odd.

You guys need to check your... (Below threshold)
Truth Teller:

You guys need to check your facts. The Ruby Ridge incident happened in 1992, under George HW Bush. Clinton was in Arkansas and Reno was in Miami. They had nothing to with it.






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