MSNBC's Wolffe: Before 9/11, Bush 'Ignored All the Warnings About Al-Qaeda'

On Wednesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe -- formerly of Newsweek -- claimed that President Bush "ignored all the warnings about al-Qaeda wanting to attack the homeland" before 9/11 as he mocked Republicans for praising Bush's record of preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil after the 9/11 attacks. As he alluded to Republicans criticizing President Clinton for not handling al-Qaeda more aggressively during his presidency, Wolffe asserted:

You couldn't just say that 9/11 came out of nothing. It wasn't a total surprise because, in their narrative, Bill Clinton and, by extension, all Democrats somehow lost the plot, they didn't take terrorism seriously because there was the U.S.S. Cole, there were the African embassy bombings, al-Qaeda was there and they didn't take it seriously because they were all doing that lawyerly stuff about respecting the rule of law and not torturing people, and so President Bush came on the scene and heroically understood the danger, only he understood it after, after he ignored all the warnings about al-Qaeda wanting to attack the homeland. So they don't understand their own story.

Host Lawrence O'Donnell had introduced the segment:

As was inevitable in the Republican world in the age of Obama, some Republicans are pulling out their terrorism scorecards and rating President Obama much worse than George W. Bush as protector-in-chief of the homeland. Of course, all Republican terrorism scorecards begin the day after the biggest and worst terrorist attack in our history, the day we lost 2,977 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And on that day, the President of the United States was George W. Bush.

After bringing aboard guests Wolffe and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, O'Donnell soon brought up clips of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Bush administration press secretary Dana Perino praising Bush's efforts to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S.:

I want to listen to something that Rudy Giuliani and Dana Perino said. This is before this. This was a common chant among Republicans. Let's listen to this.

Then came clips of Giuliani and Perino from a few years ago:

RUDY GIULIANI, ON ABC'S GOOD MORNING AMERICA: We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama.

DANA PERINO, ON FOX NEWS CHANNEL: We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term.

Even though it goes without saying that such Republicans were referring to the success of the campaign the Bush administration put into effect after the 9/11 attacks, the MSNBC host posed:

Richard, they would say this. They would say this repeatedly, and they weren't putting in any clarification about 9/11. They actually were saying it that way, and that's the thing they're trying to drill into the public, none under President Bush. Except the biggest one in history.

Wolffe responded:

They except that. And, you know, it's one thing to try and spin the public, as Dana Perino did, actually pretty successfully. And know that it's spin. And it's another thing to believe your own spin. Just because you say something over and over again, does not mean to say it's true. And, by the way, if they actually believe their own storyline, you couldn't just say that 9/11 came out of nothing.

It wasn't a total surprise because, in their narrative, Bill Clinton and, by extension, all Democrats somehow lost the plot, they didn't take terrorism seriously because there was the U.S.S. Cole, there were the African embassy bombings, al-Qaeda was there and they didn't take it seriously because they were all doing that lawyerly stuff about respecting the rule of law and not torturing people, and so President Bush came on the scene and heroically understood the danger, only he understood it after, after he ignored all the warnings about al-Qaeda wanting to attack the homeland. So they don't understand their own story.

They believe a certain selective piece of their own spin. And now they're projecting it on another President who, by the way, has a pretty good record when it comes to killing terrorists.

Dean then chimed in to accuse Republicans of being "downright unpatriotic" for criticizing President Obama. Dean:

I think it's worse. I think they're downright unpatriotic to do this to the President of the United States at a time when the presidency needs all the support he can get. Look, we can disagree about Obama's health care policy, whatever you want, but, you know, our country has been attacked, and these people have forgotten that they're supposed to be representing the United States of America, not the right wing of the Republican party. That's a fact.