When National Review went online in 1996, my politics were a little different. But then so was the world. Here are a few highlights (and low) from my diary back in those days. (Note: While the diary entries are my own, the events and dates to follow are all factually correct.)
January 6, 1996 The federal government shutdown that began last November (thanks to Newt Gingrich’s stubbornness, I might add!) is finally over thanks to President Clinton, who often worked long into the night to get this crisis resolved. He worked so hard to resolve this situation that some nights Mr. Clinton had nothing but pizza delivered by White House interns for dinner. Honestly, there were times when the president looked positively drained when he emerged from the Oval Office after yet another all-nighter of doing the people’s business. And after all the scandals associated with the previous administration it’s good to have a man in the Oval Office of such integrity that we never have to worry about embarrassing White House episodes, whether they be personal or political, as long as Bill Clinton is our president!
March 1, 1996 Today in Iraq U.N. weapons inspectors were denied access to five suspected WMD sites for over 17 hours by the Iraqi government. Is it just me, or is it starting to seem like Saddam Hussein might have something to hide? April 3, 1996 “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski has been arrested in Montana. This arrest, plus last April’s bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, makes it pretty obvious that the greatest threat to our national security in the days to come will be acts of home-grown terrorism carried out by white American males like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski.
Early to mid-June, 1996 Iraq continues to deny weapons inspectors access to its suspected WMD-manufacturing sites. Meanwhile, President Clinton is having no luck rounding up U.N. Security Council support for military action against the Hussein regime. Doggone it, if only there were some way to intervene militarily in Iraq without getting permission from the U.N. Security Council first!
June 12, 1996 A panel of federal judges blocks the Communications Decency Act on the grounds that it would infringe on free-speech rights. Yes, leave it to the conservative blue noses to imagine that somebody’s trying to use this new Internet contraption to distribute pornography. Especially to children. Ha, ha…that’s a laugh! Will you people please just get a life?
June 25, 1996 Nineteen U.S. servicemen are killed when Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia is bombed. But not to worry: President Clinton has vowed that the guilty parties will face criminal charges for this act of violence. What a relief to know that something like this can never happen again!
Early July, 1996 U.N weapons inspector Scott Ritter attempts to conduct surprise inspections of Republican Guard facilities near Baghdad Airport but is denied access by Iraqi officials. Sometimes I wonder if this whole weapons “inspections” routine is just a big scam. Then again, what else are we going to if Saddam Hussein simply refuses to disarm? More sanctions? If only we had some other option.
July 5, 1996 “Our critics said it wouldn’t work. But today’s news, once again, proves them wrong.” That’s how President Clinton announced today’s new unemployment figures, an almost unheard-of low of just 5.3 percent. Naturally the president’s critics wasted no time in claiming that with the right kinds of targeted tax cuts the unemployment rate could actually drop below five percent. Yeah, right! And maybe pigs could fly!
August 22, 1996 A sad day in American history as President Clinton caves in to right-wing fanatical hate mongers and signs a welfare reform act that requires the able-bodied to work and also sets a five-year limits on welfare benefits. In signing this bill into law the President has, in effect, condemned tens of millions of Americans, most of them children, to death by starvation. In fact, in the days and years ahead I predict that a national epidemic of severely underweight American kids and teenagers is coming. Remember where you heard that first.
September 3, 1996 Dan Rather, the dean of American television journalism, releases his second interview with Fidel Castro today, and I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to hear about Fidel’s plans to finally hold free elections in Cuba. Also, the right-wing fringe publication known as National Review will be launching an “on-line” edition shortly which, if it’s anything like the print version of that rag, will be full of cheap shots against Dan Rather. I’ve seen these media fads come and go, and this “on-line” gimmick looks to me like it will be joining earth shoes and eight-track tape players on history’s scrap heap before long. In the meantime, I say bring it on, “National Review Online” — and ten years from now we’ll just see who’s still around: this “on-line” venture of yours, or the great Dan Rather!
October 14, 1996 The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at a stratospheric 6,010 today, going over the mythical six thousand mark for the first time ever. More proof that the Clinton boom will be remembered as the most peaceful, prosperous era in all of U.S. history. Naturally, President Clinton’s usual critics are claiming that capital gains tax cuts enacted under a Republican administration could send the Dow soaring over the 10,000 mark. Yeah, like that could ever happen!
Early November 1996 U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq dig up missile parts clearly prohibited by the 1991 cease-fire, but government officials refuse to let them take the parts out of the country for analysis. It’s obvious now that Saddam Hussein is planning to restart his WMD. programs, if he hasn’t done so already. Good thing we have President Clinton office so he can…well, I’m not exactly sure what President Clinton plans to do about Saddam Hussein, but you can bet that whatever he does is going to solve the problem once and for all. Bill Clinton is just not the kind of man who would leave a problem like Saddam Hussein around for the next administration to deal with.
The most significant event of the year is missing from my diary — a meeting between Osama bin Laden and Khalil Sheikh Mohammed. The two men first met in 1996 to discuss a plan to use U.S. commercial jetliners to destroy the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
– Ned Rice is a Los Angeles-based, Emmy nominated television writer whose credits include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Real Time with Bill Maher.