Newsweek Editor Praises Clinton's 'Fox News Sunday' Performance

On Monday, a senior "Newsweek" editor, Jon Meacham, defended Bill Clinton’s performance on "Fox News Sunday," calling the interview, fantastic. Meacham also asserted that Clinton was articulate; there was a lot of merit to what he said, and that he was making a good case.On Monday’s "Imus in the Morning," Meacham gushed over Clinton’s performance noting:

"For anyone who believes that character doesn’t matter in politics, that (the Fox interview) should be exhibit A."

He continued, defending Clinton’s performance:

"At the same time, he was, you know, making a good case that he had, you know, made, moved in the right direction on bin Laden, but flip it round, as we all remember, and you all are talking about, he was handcuffed by his own faults and flaws."

When asked, why Chris Wallace didn’t ask Clinton about being "handcuffed by his own fauts and flaws," Meacham gave a rather odd response:

"Well, he did have this large Arkansas man reaching for his, well leave that to you all, but I was a little nervous. Whenever Southern men start to reach for your private parts, you know, watch out for it."

Meacham later acknowledged, Bill Clinton had lost his temper, but maintained his comments on "Fox News Sunday" still contained merit:

"He lost his temper which shows the ego, which shows that he is just as self-involved as we always suspected. At the same time, there was a lot of merit to what he said."

Mr. Meacham then contrasted Clinton’s merit and progress in fighting terrorism with the what he saw as the Bush administration’s lack of focus on the issue due to political spite:

"Yeah, the, all the books, and there are 3 or 4 fabulous books out on this. ‘Fiasco’ by Ricks, the book by Gordon and Trainer, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainer, Michael Isikoff has one, ‘Hubris,’ lots of stuff out there about how those first 9 or 10 months were, first 9 months, were not, the Bush people were not focused on terrorism, in part because the Clinton people had been, which goes back to the character theme."

However Meacham cited books here that are critical of the administration. What about authors such as Richard Miniter who have written books that offer an alternative view? Why are these authors not mentioned?Yet, as former CIA counter terrorism expert Michael Scheuer noted on the "Early Show" there is enough blame to go around. However, Meacham seems to acquit the Clinton policies, while indicting those of President Bush.The transcript of the discussion follows:

Don Imus: "And, they had already started the interview, but you know, it was before the President blew up you know. Did you see that?"Jon Meacham: "I did, I thought it was fantastic on a couple of levels. For anyone who believes that character doesn’t matter in politics, that should be exhibit A. You know there are historians who argue that history’s shaped by these broad impersonal forces, by economics, by ideology, and it doesn’t really matter who gets elected president or who’s in Congress. You saw the greatness and the, the best and the worst of Bill Clinton yesterday. You heard him so articulate, so defensive reminding everyone that there is, there are 2 ‘I’s’ in Bill Clinton, because everything was I, I, I. At the same time, he was, you know, making a good case that he had, you know, made, moved in the right direction on bin Laden, but flip it round, as we all remember, and you all are talking about, he was handcuffed by his own faults and flaws."Don Imus: "Why didn’t, I wonder why Chris Wallace didn’t point that out to him."Jon Meacham: "Well, he did have this large Arkansas man reaching for his, well leave that to you all, but I was a little nervous. Whenever Southern men start to reach for your private parts, you know, watch out for it. But, you know, he’s, Clinton, you know this interviewing these folks, they’re, they can be very compelling, very charming in the moment, and you kick yourself when you get out of the room. This has happened to all of us. What I just thought was so great was, I mean, you saw the light and the dark right there because he could have, you know this was a gifted, gifted, politician, is a gifted politician, and..."Don Imus: "He lost it."Jon Meacham: He lost it Don Imus: "And he lost his temper."Jon Meacham: "He lost his temper which shows the ego, which shows that he is just as self involved as we always suspected. At the same time, there was a lot of merit to what he said."Don Imus: "Well he’s probably right, although I don’t have a chart to know what questions they ask members of the Bush administration, and whether in fact they ask them if in the 8 or 9 months they were in office if they tried to kill Osama bin Laden, but I guess that was the issue, right?"Jon Meacham: "Yeah, the, all the books, and there are 3 or 4 fabulous books out on this. ‘Fiasco’ by Ricks, the book by Gordon and Trainer, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainer, Michael Isikoff has one, ‘Hubris,’ lots of stuff out there about how those first 9 or 10 months were, first 9 months, were not, the Bush people were not focused on terrorism, in part because the Clinton people had been, which goes back to the character theme. Clinton had, in the Bush/Cheney world view, Clinton had soiled literally the office his father had held. And the whole campaign, the whole subtext of 2000, which is hard to remember because of the chaos of Florida, was the avengers. Bush and Cheney were going to wipe out the liberal part of the baby boom. We’re going to come back in, restore order; it was a genuine Shakespearean drama I think, that Clinton was not a legitimate ruler, that the Bush family and Cheney, who had been White House Chief of Staff when he was 34 years old, 34, they were going to come back and set things to right. And so anything that even had a whiff of Clintonism was not going to be topic A. So they didn’t focus, as they should have done, on terrorism. Hindsight is blessedly 20/20. It’s very hard to say what one would have done in that position. But, of course, all you can do with history like that is learn from it, and learn to focus and learn, well you gotta pay attention to these things going forward. One of the great regrets, I think, about Iraq, which we’re now 3 and a half years into, and there’s not a lot of evidence that the administration has learned from its mistakes and its presumed successes as well."