Bill Clinton and the KGB George Bush Assails Bill Clinton's `Judgment' for Protests Overseas and a Visit to Russia in 1969. but Does This Attack Use Good Judgment?
Paul R. Wieck. Paul R. Wieck is a Washington-based reporter., The Christian Science Monitor
THE Bush camp's new effort to turn Bill Clinton's bit part in the anti-war movement that swept the country 25 years ago, plus a student trip to Moscow, into something akin to treason is the latest evidence that President Bush has strayed far from his Yankee heritage and, as Mr. Clinton reminded him in Sunday night's debate, the example of his father, the late Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut.
The elder Bush was one of few senators who had the courage to denounce Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin for the reckless charges he made against foreign-affairs experts in the mid-1950s.
As strategies go, the attack on Clinton is not new. In the 1960s, attempts were made to link the anti-war movement, civil rights protests, inner-city riots, and student uprisings at leading universities to subversive influences.
But efforts to find such a link proved futile. A classified report prepared for the Central Intelligence Agency on student protests in a number of countries in 1968 found "there is no convincing evidence of control, manipulation, sponsorship, or significant financial support of student dissidents by any international communist authority."
The Kerner Commission, set up in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson to delve into the causes of rioting in inner-cities, found the turmoil rooted in "unusual, irregular, complex, and unpredictable social processes." The riots "were not caused by nor were they the consequences of any organized plan or conspiracy," the commission's report stated.
The CIA report, "Restless Youth," found that student dissidence worldwide was "shaped in every instance by local conditions." It cited student strikes led by Mark Rudd at Columbia University, by Rudi Duschke at Berlin's Free University, and by Daniel Cohn-Bendit in Paris. The authors of the CIA report pointed repeatedly to a deep contempt Kremlin leaders felt for long-haired, undisciplined rebels coming out of Western society. Pravda's Yuri Zhukov called them "werewolves" who would split progressive movements. They called Mr. Cohn-Bendit "a provacateur."
Bush's surrogates, also trying to exaggerate Clinton's quite minor role in the anti-war movement in 1969, say he met with former organizers for Sen. Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign at Martha's Vineyard. They also speak of Clinton's "role" in the Vietnam Moratorium in 1969.
Actually there were two meetings on Martha's Vineyard. The first was in a private home after the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968; the meeting was an unsuccessful effort to agree on what to do in that fall's election. The next summer the group returned for what attendee David Mixner called "sort of like a Big Chill reunion." Clinton, never part of the Eugene McCarthy crowd, was invited to the second meeting mainly to bolster the group's Southern contingent, which by then consisted only of Taylor Branch, today a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. …