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Bill Clinton Contacts: Good or Evil?

An interesting conjunction of politics, money and journalism this morning as our Readers Who Comment react to Glenn Kessler's article about how Bill Clinton's network and contacts were used to free the two American journalists from North Korea.

The comments contain three distinct threads. One is the left-right argument about whether the United States gave up too much in cutting the deal. The right says yes; the left asks, "Are you nuts?" The second is whether the tone of the Washington Post article is designed to tarnish the Clinton achievement. The third is that some people really like Bill Clinton and some people really don't.

As Kessler wrote, Bill Clinton's "network... troubled senators who weighed whether to confirm his wife as secretary of state."

We'll start with curmudgeon1, who asked, "What, exactly, is the point of this story? If the Post has evidence of any kind of malfeasance or corruption, by all means expose it. But who, in this case, did anything other than honorable? This kind of slimy, insusbstantial innuendo is unworthy of Mr. Kessler or the once-great newspaper that employs him..."

But jeannebee wrote, "This article has the proper balance between celebrating their release and concern about a vast "Private State Department, Inc.". Even Clinton admirers should be a little disquieted at the intermingling of official gov't business with a vast private enterprise. Of course you will be shown the big PR stories. But what other deals are going on behind the scenes? I'm not saying it's corrupt. But the Post is right to raise the possibility."

And bitterpill8 said, "It never ceases to amaze me how Bill Clinton's success gets up the nose of some journalists and pols. The envy!"

alinosof wrote, "Clinton accomplished his mission flawlessly with the help of the U.S government and his reliable network of friends. Those who criticized his trip to rescue the reporters in N. Korea have a short memory. Does any body remember the Iran Contra scandal? Back in 1986, the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages..."

jeminda said, "...If Bill Clinton had not been willing to pull out the stops, at minimal cost to the taxpayer, those two journalists would now be in prison without hope of early release and a hostage-type situation would have developed over months and years. It was essential to act early and quickly, and this was done. If this needed energetic pulling of strings behind the scenes, then that is surely justified by the outcome..."

ArtOhio shouted, "If I'm understanding this correctly, North Korea let those two women go because Bill Clinton knows people?? Is the Washington Post that naive?? North Korea let them go BECUASE THEY WANTED TO, not because Bill Clinton has "contacts". Give me a BREAK!!"

Jumbybird wrote, "What they're not mentioning is how much this "humanitarian" stands to make or has made for his "mission of mercy". I'm just sorry those two, who lowered the average IQ in North Korea while there, are back!"

republican_disaster wrote, "Reich-wingnuts like John Bolton and Charlie Krauthammer would let these woman rot in jail rather than have Bill Clinton involved with their rescue."

bonazha said, "I have one thing to say about the intelligent right. It cannot stand a democratic success. The message from the Post is thus; Bill is so nefariously connected that his contacts will pay for a flight to North Korea, and the FAA will make exceptions to rules (letting a private jet land in N. Korea) just to rescue american journalists...The real question my right wing friends, is why did North Korea want Bill to come over."

CharlesGriffith1 wrote, "Two melon-headed reporters pull a wild border crossing stunt which ends up involving all the mammoth logistics involved in flying an ex-president of the United States to a terrorist nation in order to provide some "face" to its mercurial leader. A worldwide media frenzy gleefully wears out keyboards clicking away at shallow faux analysis. Puccini and Tchaikovsky, Gilbert and Sullivan are envious..."

sally62 asked, "All of you who find it ok to make a "deal" with kidnappers and see Clinton as a hero, how do you suggest we get the three tourist back from Iran? Do we send Michelle in a chador? How less safe are all American journalists now that Clinton and Obama gave in to Korea's demands?..."

To which mavisdarling replied, "Sally62: The three "tourists" in Iran are actually journalists as well, I believe. And I don't believe for a minute they were just hiking along the border and "accidentally" entered Iran. Nobody goes on "vacation" in that part of the world. And what do YOU suggest we do about it? The two situations are as different as they are similar."

j_m_r wrote, "As usual, the Post seeks to make something sordid out of a noble and successful effort. The N. Koreans would release their hostages if Clinton came. He came, with the cooperation if the U.S. government and the support of some rich freinds. Mission accomplished. Typical of the contemptible Post to dump on it."

Slager21 said, "North Korea never gives anything away for free. The question must be asked, what did the Clinton trip cost us."

mike85 wrote, "...The Clinton trip was a White House setup! The entire deal was negotiated by the White House, Bill Clinton was just the \"bag man\". Clinton was met... by the head of North Korea's Nuclear program, and N. Korea's chief nuclear negotiator... North Korea came away from this as a huge winner, and the US as a huge loser. The only question is how much did the US give up to save face for Al Gore?"

We'll close with mollycoddle1 who said, "How is it that when an ex-President does a really, really good thing, a story is written that seems to be critical?
Lord, can't the media for once acknowledge that what Clinton did was a good thing? Why does this story focus on his 'vast web of financial and political contacts?'... "

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 6, 2009; 7:21 AM ET
 | Tags: Bill Clinton, North Korea  
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Can't we just accept the good news, thank the president for his effort and accept the fact that two women are back home with their loved ones? My gosh are there no good deeds without the psychology, the controversy, the mean-spirited words for an act of considerable effort. Walter Cronkite would take off his glasses, look at us and say the women are home. Period.

Posted by: Lee231Jim | August 6, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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