Now that the White House is (behind its usual shield of anonymity, of course) gay-baiting Richard Clarke, those who have been criticizing him personally, as opposed to criticizing his foreign policy views (Glenn Reynolds, for example, or Mickey Kaus, as opposed to Dan Drezner) have, it seems to me, three choices:
1. Say that they approve of the attack, and that Clarke’s sexual orientation is a legitimate reason to doubt his veracity or his acuity.
2. Say that they don’t think that the attack is really relevant, but that any tactic is legitimate if it weakens a critic of the President.
3. Claim that Wolf Blitzer was making it up, and explain why he would.
4. Denounce the attack in strong terms.
Ï can’t really see a fifth option. This is truly the case where silence gives consent. Anyone who has been attacking Clarke personally has been, in effect, playing on the White House team, and has an ethical obligaton to call the foul.
And since the argument of the Clarke-bashers has been that inconsistencies in his statements mean that anything he says stands discredited, I’d like to hear them explain why this sort of tactic from the White House (on top of the massive internal inconsistencies in the White House anti-Clarke spin) shouldn’t lead us to ignore anything Condi Rice or Dick Cheney says from now on.
Update Apparently the White House is backing off. Lesson: Bullies are mostly cowards, and fold if confronted.