William Safire piles on today with the same, tired old lie about Wesley Clark.
He began by claiming to have been pressured to stop his defeatist wartime CNN commentary by someone "around the White House"; challenged, he morphed that source into a Canadian Middle East think tank, equally fuzzy.
First, Clark said that he was called by someone asking him to link 9/11 and Iraq. Only in Safire's world (you know, the one where Nixon was defeated by "nattering nabobs of negativity" and not by his own crooked impulses) is calling someone to tell them to say something based on no evidence at all the same as being asked to not be defeatist. It does explain, though, how he can feel good about the triumphant lies of the Bush administration.
That Clark claimed to have been pressured by the White House to do anything is just a lie. Spinsanity has already covered this, as have I, but let's look one more time at what Clark actually said:
GEN. CLARK: I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.
MR. RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?
GEN. CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, "You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein." I said, "But--I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?" And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had--Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.
Look. He doesn't say that the White House told him to say anything. He actually says in that paragraph that the call came from people who were connected to Middle East think tanks right here in his very first mention of the call. It never morphed into anything, because the man's been saying the exact same thing all along.
I don't usually do the "short version" thing. That's really best left to experts. However, I think the Shorter William Safire would read:
I am just as willing to lie about Wesley Clark as I was to lie about Bill and Hillary Clinton and, when possible, I'll do both at the same time.
Update: Josh Marshall knows what I'm talking about.
Update: The experts come through. See BusyBusyBusy. (And, as a side note to my busy friends, doesn't it seem that Iraq is being set up as a theocracy, but that the religion is Bokononism: "Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores, a chain of grocery stores, a chain of gas chambers, and a national game. After that we can write our Constitution.")