- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006

When Bill Clinton dealt with Yasser Arafat not as the terrorist he was but as a legitimate leader he was not, the second intifada against Israel was born. Indeed, the Clinton approach to Middle East affairs is not one Democrats can be proud of. This approach nearly always strengthened the hand of the Islamists and the various Arab dictators, usually at the expense of American interests.

And yet it’s a legacy top Democrats spent the weekend invoking, blaming the current conflict on the Bush administration. “If you think what’s going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn’t, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn’t get where we are today,” said Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when he brought together the Northern Irish and the IRA, when he brought together the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

This is revisionism of the first order. The fact is that Israel and the United States have been paying the price of the Clinton administration’s foolishness in trusting Yasser Arafat since. Channeling Mr. Dean, Sen. Christopher Dodd struck the same tone with a Sunday appearance on Fox News. “This administration, unfortunately, has seen the word diplomacy and negotiation as somehow a favor to your enemies,” he said. This is nonsense, as Mr. Dodd, prodded by his host Chris Wallace, conceded when he ruled out negotiations with Iran.

Offering even more nonsense and less substance was Rep. Jane Harman, ranking member of the Select Intelligence Committee, who scolded the administration for not negotiating with Iran and blaming the American troubles with Syria on “the way we have been conducting ourselves in Iraq.” Mrs. Harman, who probably knows better, pretends to have forgotten that Iranian, Syrian and Palestinian hostility toward Israel predated the invasion of Iraq by several decades and will no doubt long outlast the present difficulty.

But offering coherent solutions to the present crisis was not really the point. Some Democrats regard what’s happening between Israel and Hezbollah as an opportunity to scrub up the party’s bona fides on foreign policy. This means trying to invoke a mythical Clinton legacy and blaming everything bad on President Bush.

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