Today's Blogs

A Disarming Announcement

Bloggers are buzzing about North Korea’s agreement to stop building nukes, former President Clinton’s criticism of the Bush administration, and some “off the record” comments by Karl Rove.

A disarming announcement: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, record-low poll numbers and $3 gasoline, the Bush administration appears to have scored a major diplomatic victory. North Korea has agreed in principle to end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security promises and economic benefits. The announcement appears to be a break in the international standoff over Kim Jong-il’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Even lefties acknowledge—some begrudgingly—that this looks like progress. Washington Monthly’s Political Animal Kevin Drum writes of his “cautious optimism”: “I want to hear more about what North Korea actually agreed to, and I also want to hear more about what the United States agreed to. … If this is on the level, it’s great news. It would also be a terrific accomplishment for the Bush administration. They could use one.”

Assuming the agreement leads to tangible results—no safe assumption—the administration’s diplomatic policy deserves credit, Dan Darling at group blog Winds of Change implies: “Prediction: If this in fact pans out, people who have previously argued that the North Korean diplomacy was a complete failure will now start arguing that this would have happened anyway regardless of what the US did.”

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters applauds the president for sticking to his no-bilateral-talks guns, and says this achievement could lead to further successes: “George Bush needed a big win on the international stage, and this surely qualifies. … The agreement should allow the US to focus much more attention on Iran, once a compliance team gets on the ground in North Korea. … More importantly, it gives the Bush administration a boost in credibility for negotiating for non-proliferation, just when the EU-3 has utterly failed with Iran to get an agreement. “

Look at history, though, says the skeptical Joshua Froust at group blog Conjecturer.“Remember when Jimmy Carter got them to do that before? … Quite frankly, North Korea is a no-win situation. Either we capitulate and ‘reward’ DPRK’s nuclear program with food, oil, and power plants; or we force a confrontation, start another war or a series of oppressive reprisals, and make the in-country conditions even worse. Which one is the least-bad option?” In two words, Indepundit’s Citizen Smash sums up the feelings of many: “We’ll see.”

Read more about North Korea.

Ambushed: Former President Clinton opened fire on Bush administration policies Sunday, taking shots at his successor’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, the federal budget deficit, and the Iraq war.

Where to start with the indignant right-wing response? Power Line seems an appropriate place, as John Hinderaker addresses the attack in general and several of Clinton’s criticisms in particular: “This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. Consistent with that belief, former Presidents of both parties have stayed out of politics and have avoided criticizing their successors. Until now.”

Um, actually, Bob Johnson on Daily Kos says, this has happened before: “As far as a past President criticizing a sitting President, it happened earlier this summer at the Democratic convention when Carter pounded on Bush from the podium.” Johnson also wishes Clinton had gone on the offensive sooner.

Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush proposes punishment: “I think there is one simple way to respond to this: Take Clinton off of Katrina Relief. When President Bush tapped his father and Clinton to lead a national fundraising effort, he didn’t have to include Clinton at all … So why keep Bill Clinton on board when he’s using his position to both make himself look good, and to help his wife in 2006 and 2008?” (Incidentally, during the interview in question, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos had a cute 2008 slogan suggestion: “Buy one, get one free.”)

The Moderate Voice’s Michael Stickings sums up what liberals are thinking: “Democrats, I presume, are saying to themselves that it’s about time. Clinton has been critical of his successor before, but not to this degree. … Indeed, this may be yet one more indication that Bush is in serious trouble, now that Clinton, more diplomat than adversary through Bush’s first 4+ years (last year’s election campaign notwithstanding), has emerged as one of his more forceful and credible critics.”

Read more about Clinton’s criticism.

What Rove really thinks: Further demonstrating how much the media have changed with the advent of blogging, some supposedly off-the-record comments made by Karl Rove last weekend were posted by Arianna Huffington. Among other things, Bush’s top political adviser is said to have said that “Cindy Sheehan is a clown” and “The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government.”

Wonkette, in her cynical way, notes that she finds nothing ground-breaking in the quotes. “Among other bombshells dropped by the President’s right-hand man: ‘On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East …’ Whoa, there, buddy. Try not to blow my mind all at once. … You can understand why he went off the record. This is kind of loose, off-message talk that brought down Nixon.”

Graham at center-left blog Cognoscenti agrees: “There is nothing here that is really incendiary … Of course these reports could be false, or taken out of context, and that should be taken into consideration. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, this story develops over the coming week.”