Remember the rules

REMEMBER THE RULES…. Mike Allen takes a look back at the political reactions to the 9/11 attacks, and raises a relevant point.

The GOP is blaming Obama for the attack. But Republican lawmakers, candidates, pundits and commentators — and the Bush administration — blamed the CLINTON administration for 9/11. In September 2006, Secretary of State Rice told the New York Post editorial board, “Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11. … We just weren’t organized as a country either domestically or as a leader internationally. But what we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton Administration did in the preceding years…We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda.” …

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a few hours after the attacks: “We had Bill Clinton backing off, letting the Taliban go, over and over again.” … Then-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), later CIA director, in The New York Times, 10/22/01: “[T]he fact is that the Clinton administration was not very interested in our intelligence community, did not spend very much time worrying about, or using it, or investing in it…. It’s impossible not to go there if you really do an anatomy of why we are where we are today.”

Now, Bob Cesca notes that it’s pretty silly to compare 9/11 to the failed plot on Christmas — 3,000 innocents killed vs. a guy who set his crotch on fire. Not much of a comparison.

That said, the larger truth of Allen’s observation is rather compelling — if Clinton deserved the blame for 9/11, Bush would necessarily have to get the same amount of blame for the system failures that nearly led to last week’s attack.

And since the political world would never agree to such a thing, this is probably a good time to review the Media/Political Establishment’s Rules for Understanding the Political Implications of Terrorism (or MPERUPIT):

* If terrorists successfully attack during a Democratic president’s first year in office (first attack on World Trade Center), it’s the Democrats’ fault, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists unsuccessfully attack during a Democratic president’s second term, it’s the Democrats’ fault the terrorists even tried, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists successfully attack during a Republican president’s first year in office (9/11), it’s the Democrats’ fault, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists unsuccessfully attack during a Republican president’s second term, it’s only because the Republican is “taking the fight to the enemy,” and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists unsuccessfully attack during a Democratic president’s first year in office, it’s the Democrats’ fault the terrorists even tried, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

If you don’t have the handy dandy MPERUPIT list readily available, remember this shortcut: bad news is good for Republicans; good news is good for Republicans; Democrats are to blame for Republican failures; and Republicans deserve credit for Democratic successes.

As long as you filter all terrorism-related news through this convenient prism, domestic coverage of current events will always make sense, even when it doesn’t.