Fmr. Clinton WH Counsel Davis: Liberals Should Stop Cheap Shots at Bush Over bin Laden

May 5th, 2011 12:27 PM

This morning on WMAL's "Morning Majority" program, former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis slammed liberals who were taking partisan pot-shots at former President George W. Bush in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing on Sunday.

While Davis didn't name names, he made veiled references to MSNBC and its "Last Word" host Lawrence O'Donnell. O'Donnell, you may recall, bashed former President Bush on his Monday evening "Last Word" program, insisting that President Bush had dismissed bin Laden's capture or killing as unimportant to the war on terror as early as 2002.

But Bush's rhetoric downplaying bin Laden was strategic, not to be taken completely at face value Davis argued.

Here's the relevant transcript (emphases mine, audio embedded below page break):

LANNY DAVIS, former Clinton adviser: I also think that the cheap shots against George Bush, who, full disclosure, is an old friend of mine from college -- I didn't vote for him and I disagree with him on most things -- but there are some types of Democrats that can't seem to resist the cheap shot opportunity. And George Bush and his administration deserve a lot of credit for setting up the intelligence apparatus that directly or indirectly led to this great accomplishment by President Obama.




BRYAN NEHMAN, host: Does this mean that enhanced interrogation does work? I mean, are we giving any credit to enhanced interrogation in finding out this information?




DAVIS: ...[T]he fact is that George W. Bush set this apparatus up, probably took a chance that it might be illegal, and because of that surveillance capability and because, we are certainly told, that because of these enhanced interrogation techniques -- which I always thought was equivalent to torture and was opposed to -- looking back retrospectively, it looks like, at least indirectly, that led to the lead that led us to the courier that led us to Osama bin Laden.


So who knows whether, at the moment in time that they decided to use these techniques -- it's easy to second-guess them -- but we Democrats at least shouldn't be running clips of George Bush saying that he didn't care about Osama bin Laden when clearly that was a strategic message that we weren't going to judge our success on whether we killed this guy.


And then this cheap shot on one of the cable networks running the clip as if George Bush didn't care about killing Osama bin Laden is a Democratic, partisan Left at its very worst, and I wanted to make that comment as a strong liberal Democrat that on both sides of the spectrum here, if this isn't a moment to say time-out on partisan cheap-shots, I don't know what is.


CLIFF MAY, guest co-host, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies: You know, I think that's right, and again I salute you on that as well.