I, Vermin From Under Rock

Once I dared criticize Richard Clarke. Now I live in infamy.

"I hope you didn't mind the Drudge Report notoriety your article is now receiving. I was so distraught with the '60 Minutes' piece on Richard Clarke that I passed your article onto Drudge, and you're now published on his huge web page," wrote a stranger late Sunday night. I do believe the man meant well.

At this point I should mention that I'm a registered Democrat. In fact, it was also over a year ago when I was called a leftist puke for insinuating, in the Voice, that the Pentagon's jumping minefield project was rotten and that "shock and awe" was the creation of a numskull, among other pieces unfriendly to the national joy that sprang from marching across the border of Iraq.

Nevertheless, through the blaze of interest ignited by Drudge and Limbaugh, "Richard Clarke's legacy of miscalculation" was either linked to or republished hundreds of times across the blogs of the right. The effect was that of a Google bomb, a stunt of technology that put the column in second place for searches of "Richard Clarke." In other words, if Richard Clarke had been an entry in Webster's, "legacy of miscalculation" would have been the second definition.

Author George Smith: Registered Democrat, reputed right-wing attack dog
photo: Max S. Gerber
Author George Smith: Registered Democrat, reputed right-wing attack dog


You idiot, you fop, you scumbag who never served a day in the U.S. military . . .

The following are excerpts from my inbox, on the heels of the world's discovery that I had once criticized terror expert and Bush detractor Richard Clarke.

* "You're an idiot. . . . Your drivel will fade into obscurity and you'll grow to be an old angry man. Richard Clarke has done more for the victims of 9/11 than Bush ever will. Iraq was a lie and everyone knows it but you."

  • "An important indicator of a psychopath is that they keep lying, even though their lies have been exposed. Happy neocon dreams to you. . . . "
  • ". . . nice one smith . . . people like you are part of the problem with americaŚnot part of the solution."
  • "It sounds like you are a republican. . . . Most all of the people that was in on the change over from Clinton said that they told 'W' all about the terror attacks. Was you there?"
  • "It didn't take long for the white house attack dogs. . . . This is how this president and his men kill the opposition. Freedom of speech . . . only if you dont want to be savaged by Bushes Pitbulls Congratulations . . . your milk bone and muzzle are on the way."
  • " . . . Hadley looked like a liar and more than a little creepy."
  • "For you to write this just means you are a blind Bush lover. As a Canadian (just like our PM) I hate the lier. . . . I don't understand how half your population is so stupid."
  • "Think of all the computer viruses out there and look at them as terrorist threats because that's what they are. . . . These crimes outpace physical terrorists. . . . "
  • "Around 2010, the combination of military expenditures and social entitlements will bankrupt this country, another French mistake called the French Revolution. A third French mistake? VIETNAM."
  • "I have been compelled to write you about this article, because there is something you missed and it is very important. You mentioned . . . [a] cruise missle strike on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 1998. . . . You did not mention . . . that those cruise missles, (the ones that missed) that were left intact, were subsequently sold by bin Laden to China. . . . China has reverse engineered those cruise missles, and produced comparable weapons [which] have now been sold to Iran, and North Korea. I cannot prove this information, but I do know that this is a widely held belief/fact within the intelligence community."
  • ". . . you chickenshits . . ."
  • " . . . I am 24 years old and a former Force Recon Marine, with service in Kosovo and Sierra Leone. I know a fair amount about counter terrorisim. . . . [Clarke] of course is EXTREMELY worrisome to fat pussy Republicans such as yourself who have your heads stuck so far up Bush's ass, you can taste his lunch. America now knows that George Bush is a faggot . . . and is a moron. . . . You are a scumbag and a shit eater, and obviously have never served a day in the US Military."
  • "How I hope [your column] is more widely declared than the '60 Minutes' piece. Oh, how the lust for power corrupts!!!"
  • "I couldn't bring myself to watch Democrat attack dog Leslie [Stahl]. I'm sure she asked leading questions to Mr. Clarke . . . "
  • " . . . Beware the viciousness of a smug elitist masking as a democrat. . . . Thanks again for setting the record straight. . . . The mainstream media never exposes the motives of their own kind. . . . "
  • " . . . [Thank] you for doing the nation an important service. . . . "
  • "Just saw the plug by Rush . . . Congrats!" wrote a professional acquaintance with dry humor. "It is a shame, though, that your piece should be placed in the service of evil."

    Throughout Monday and Tuesday right-wing talk radio wanted me. Fox television was interested and some fellow named "Beowulf" from the Michael Savage show desired a call so listeners could "hear [my] take on this important issue."

    Around midday Monday, before grokking that it was smarter to clam up and hide rather than risk public speaking, I did a brief interview with a Pittsburgh radio station. The show's assistant called and I told her the column had been written a year ago. "Uh, what? Oh, I see, yeah," she said, breaking into nervous laughter.

    The spot lasted about three minutes. All I had to do was mention words like "cyberattack" and "electronic infrastructure" instead of "disgruntled turncoat" and "clueless, out-of-the-loop, Demo-collaborator." Cut to a commercial.

    There was no nuance—or recognition of anything other than good or wicked—anywhere. I was supposedly the proper expert arrived just in the nick of time, someone who took Richard Clarke "to task for having the audacity to write a book critical of the President's anti-terrorism efforts." Or I was a GOP mouthpiece, a "loyal shameless Bush Apologist and Academic Hit Man." Reality didn't fit what the howling mobs wanted.

    What is true is that no one cursing or cheering Richard Clarke now cared a whit about him until Sunday night two weeks ago. And he was no stranger to 60 Minutes either, warning of terror in April 2000: "What if one morning we're told by the drug cartel in Colombia, 'Either the United States pulls out of Colombia, either the United States stops killing the cocaine plants, or else there'll be [a cyberattack] on Houston'?"

    But maybe I am all screwed up and the people writing me weren't taunting proof of the hegemony of the American boob. Maybe Richard Clarke is (I challenge you to say this with a straight face while looking into a mirror) a "folk hero" or part of the "revenge of democracy" said to be coming to the Bush administration.

    I would be willing to bet, though, that if the Dems, of which I am one—remember—won't fight their own battles and keep thinking that career apparatchiks bearing tattlers will win the election, they'll be thrown to statistics and the devil when it finally arrives.

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