Just when Barack Obama was making us all wax nostalgic for the Clinton era, Bill Clinton goes and spoils it all by reminding us what a uniquely loathsome human being he can be.
On Monday, April 19, Clinton penned an impressively vile little op-ed for the New York Times, which memorialized not so much those who died at Oklahoma City, as those who exploited the hell out of it to save his presidency.
One of those was my radio partner. On April 19, 1995, I was co-hosting a point-counterpoint radio show on Kansas City’s leading AM station, KMBZ. The show aired just before Rush Limbaugh, who once worked at this station. The Oklahoma bomb detonated just as we were going on the air.
My partner and I followed developments closely. Early police reports and intelligence briefings led us all to believe that the bomb was the work of Islamic terrorists.
But when the police identified Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as suspects two days later, my partner, a wily and well-connected Democratic strategist, was absolutely gleeful.
He went on the air and issued an All Points Bulletin for McVeigh’s “co-conspirators, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich.” He claimed that their hate speech and talk of revolution inflamed the allegedly right-wing McVeigh.
My partner was simply following the DNC talking points. Democrats, the president included, were spreading this same unholy message all across America.
Clinton was more subtle than his supporters. He merely blamed the “purveyors of hate and division.” His supporters filled in the blanks.
Clinton did much the same this past Monday. “As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters,” he said shamelessly, “we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.”
Clinton was a master of strategic grief counseling. He descended on Oklahoma City with an approval rating in the low 40s and left town with a rating well above 50 and the Republican revolution buried in the rubble.
Late in the 1996 campaign, he would confide to reporters that his road back to the White House began in Oklahoma City.
The truth was much more complex than Clinton pretended. In fact, every witness who identified McVeigh in the minutes before the blast put a short, foreign-looking, dark-skinned man in his passenger seat.
“FBI spokesman Weldon L. Kennedy said investigators were still trying to identify John Doe No. 2,” wrote the Washington Post on April 28, 1995, “a man who accompanied McVeigh when he rented the Ryder truck in Junction City, Kan.”
Twenty minutes before the blast in downtown Oklahoma City, employees at a tire store spotted two men of the same description in the Ryder truck, and even gave the men directions to the Murrah Building intersection.
“It was a Ryder truck,” Daina Bradley cried out to rescuers who were in process of amputating her leg to extricate her from the rubble, “it pulled up, a foreign-looking man got out, and then before long, everything went black.”
Bradley made this claim to her rescuers 24 hours before the FBI knew that a Ryder truck was involved.
As he told the FBI, printing operator Jerry Nance noticed an unusual car in the downtown Oklahoma City parking lot near where he worked just five minutes before the blast.
It was a dilapidated yellow Mercury Marquis. Behind the wheel was a dark-skinned, Middle-Eastern-looking man in a ball cap.
Nance remembered the car well. When he walked back toward it, after having retrieved something from his own car, the Mercury Marquis almost ran him over.
Now, however, the Middle Eastern man was sitting in the passenger seat, and a white man was recklessly driving the car out of the parking lot. As the Mercury Marquis passed Nance, it thumped over a concrete marker and shook the white license plate loose.
Two minutes later, the Murrah Building blew. Nance informed the FBI of this incident before anyone knew McVeigh had been apprehended in a yellow Mercury Marquis without a license plate.
Eight days later, the FBI extensively quoted Nance and the tire-store employees in its request before a federal judge to hold McVeigh over for trial. One tire-store guy picked McVeigh out of a lineup of look-alikes even before he saw McVeigh on TV. The Washington Post of April 28 confirmed the same:
“The magistrate, Ronald L. Howland, ordered McVeigh to be held without bail after listening to four hours of testimony from FBI special agent John Hersley in which he described eyewitness accounts of a yellow Mercury with McVeigh and another man inside speeding away from a parking lot near the federal building.”
Rather than put a single witness on the stand who could place McVeigh in or near Oklahoma City on April 19, the prosecution chose to build an entire case on circumstantial evidence.
The Justice Department had lost all interest in the eyewitnesses as soon as the White House had established its talking points. They also lost interest in any Islamic connection.
“Could the al-Qaida explosives expert [Ramzi Yousef] have been introduced to the angry American [Terry Nichols] who proclaimed his hatred for America,” writes Richard Clarke of Nichols’ visit to the Philippines in “Against All Enemies.” “We do not know, despite some FBI investigation.”
“Some FBI investigation”? Why was there not a massive FBI investigation? The reason is fairly obvious: McVeigh and Nichols served as poster boys for the natural progression of the “Republican revolution.”
If, however, they had proved to be mere “lily-whites” – that is, stooges recruited by Islamic terrorists to take the fall – they would have lost their political value.
What’s more, our progressive friends could no longer scold those who had publicly presumed that Islamic terrorists were behind the bombing.
This included not only the political right but also nonpartisan terrorist experts like Steven Emerson, who had already been upbraided for “bigotry and misrepresentations” and “creating mass hysteria against American Arabs” for his PBS documentary “American Jihad.”
In fact, to the detriment of our national security, the orchestrated Democratic reaction to Oklahoma City shamed reporters and investigators from pursuing Islamic terrorism aggressively.
And the scary thing is that clowns like Clinton are still trying to shame us.