I never sprung for their six(!)-volume history of Whitewater, but I used to love the Wall Street Journal’s Clinton‐bashing during the ‘90s. Sure, writers for the WSJ could get a little, uh, exuberant with some of their charges, but even if they couldn’t prove that our 42nd president was a drug‐running rapist, you could usually count on finding some good dirt on Bill and Hill on the editorial and op‐ed pages.
Well, boy, do I feel like a useful idiot now. It turns out that by savaging our president throughout the ‘90s, the Journal was “taking a page from the old Soviet playbook.” Say it ain’t so, Paul Gigot!
Anyway, that’s what I got out of “Propaganda Redux,” the op‐ed by Ion Mihai Pacepa that ran in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, even though the author’s main focus, predictably, is on Bush-bashing. Pacepa is “the highest‐ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc,” so he knows something about anti‐American commie tactics, like spreading doubts about the president. You see:
Sowing the seeds of anti‐Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet‐bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe.
As Pacepa recounts, Soviet bloc spies would stop at nothing in their disinformation campaign, portraying “Nixon as a petty tyrant, Ford as a dimwitted football player and Jimmy Carter as a bumbling peanut farmer.” When you think how close Americans came to believing some of that stuff, it really gives you a chill. We might well have lost the Cold War.
Yet even today, over a decade and a half after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ominous parallels remain. As Pacepa notes, “At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud‐slinging at America’s commander in chief.” This will not do, for, as Pacepa explains in the last paragraph:
[T]he communists got it right. It is America’s leader that counts.
And there you have it. Right in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. The second Clinton presidency sure is going to be interesting.