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Dispatches The Buzz

White House hearings loss

Andrew Sullivan (andrew is "mystified by the furor" over Richard Clarke's accusations: "I never believed that either the Clinton or the pre-9/11 Bush administration took al-Qaeda seriously enough.... But what matters now in a political year is how the Bushies responded afterwards; and, to my mind, they did about as good a job as possible. The way some people are now talking, you'd think the White House hadn't targeted Afghanistan and

al-Qaeda before Saddam. But they went to al-Qaeda's base first, taking the war to the enemy patiently and determinedly -- with enormous success first against the Taliban and then against Saddam. Millions are now liberated from unspeakable tyranny; reform is afoot in the Middle East; al-Qaeda has been seriously wounded. Not a bad start."

Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly's new "Political Animal" (washington, thinks the Bush administration has mishandled the hearings: "Would anyone have held it against them if they admitted that they, like everyone else, underestimated terrorism prior to 9/11? I don't think so. And the Iraq war as a response to terrorism is a longstanding policy dispute. Surely they could just acknowledge it and then lay out the usual arguments. The Bush administration has always had only one gear, full speed ahead with all guns blazing, but this is a case where that's probably hurt them."

Meanwhile, with Mr. Clarke milking his notoriety to sell books, John Ellis wants to know, "Why hasn't ABC News fired Richard Clarke? They've been paying him a significant monthly retainer for (I think) more than a year now. And at exactly the moment that ABC News might expect to get a ratings return on their investment, what does Clarke do? He waddles over to 60 Minutes with a sensational story of Bush administration malfeasance and misconduct. If I was the president of ABC News, I'd see that as breach of contract. And after I fired him, I'd sue him."

Fenced in

In a departure from the conventional wisdom, Roger L. Simon ( wrote that Israel's planned "security fence" is actually good for Palestinians: "In a sense the wall is the best hope for the Palestinians ... forcing them to actually have a state, rather than to talk about it incessantly, endlessly debating borders, etc. In fact, it might even be better for the Pals if they were never allowed to work in Israel again. Because on my four visits to the West Bank ... I observed one thing most of all: The Palestinians were devoting little or no effort to developing their own society. They were relying on the Israelis to provide for them."

Kerry crippled?

Why is John Kerry dipping in the polls despite all the Richard Clarke news? Dale Franks had a simple explanation: "Voters elect guys they like. And Kerry just isn't a likable guy.... Kerry's not a guy you can warm up to.... I don't think that translates well into nationwide political success." The New Republic's Ryan Lizza ( journal) emphasizes Bush attack ads: "Watching the White House take incoming from Clarke over the last nine days, some pundits have joked that Kerry's best strategy may be to just stay on vacation or schedule more surgery. But these two polls suggest that what Kerry really needs to be doing is forcefully rebutting charges that he is weak on defense and a tax-raising liberal. In the battle of Bush's TV ads versus Richard Clarke's accusations, score one for TV ads."

Unnatural selection

Paul of Wizbang ( pointed out a classic flaw in the theory of evolution: "If you consider the diversity of life on this planet and the fact that 90 percent of all the species that have ever lived are now extinct, it is obvious that there would have had to be trillions of cases when one species evolved into another. Yet with all of our study we cannot document one time in history that it has happened.... If it happened this many times in history, clearly it must be happening contemporaneously. Yet not only can we not find it in nature but after thousands of generations in labs nobody can prove that a single species can evolve into another species.... I don't believe either camp.... Whether you believe the primordial ooze theory or you believe in creationism, you only have your faith as proof."