Archive for the ‘Bill Clinton’ Category

Just as the left often said Bush “misled” the country into war, which confused whether or not he was lying or merely mistaken, the left also seems to confuse those who resort to political violence from those who are merely pissed off.  Bill Clinton remembered the Oklahoma City Bombing by describing the lone wolf terrorists as follows: “On that April 19, the second anniversary of the assault of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a blow for liberty.”  That’s an interesting description, “Americans,” or, more precisely, “deeply alienated and disconnected Americans.”  Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were certainly that.  But isn’t a term like “nut jobs” or “crazy terrorists” or “malevolent psychopaths” more appropriate?  Would anyone describe Mohammad and Malvo, the DC snipers, as “disconnected Americans.”  Or Lee Oswald?  But, for Clinton this is a natural usage.  They’re part of an entire cohort, which includes everyone from Rush Limbaugh on down.  And the whole group of alienated, small government conservatives is thus tarred with the same brush, even though few on the right had kind words for McVeigh, unlike Muslim and leftist leaders’ words for Iraqi “freedom fighters” or the bombers of the Weather Underground.

The biggest antidote to right wing crazy extremists–of which there are some inclined to violence, no doubt–is the absence of provocations that are also unjustifiable for many other reasons.  A government that aims to remake society, demonize the majority, threaten Christians and their means of self defense, while preventing them from making a decent living through affirmative action and free trade is asking for trouble.  But Obama, like Clinton, sees a million reasons to appease Muslims and other foreigners, while finding no reason not to clamp down on his home grown enemies, whom he finds alien and despicable, more alien and more despicable than the Muslim fundamentalists around whom he was raised in Indonesia and with whom he shares an alienation from America’s white, Christian, conservative majority.

Obama, like Clinton, will create the very right-wing violence (real and imagined) that a softer touch and greater respect for their way of life and their tresaured Constitution would prevent.

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in disarray, and she is about to lose for one reason:  the product.  She’s unpopular, crude, uninteresting, fake, and awkward.  No technical campaigning skills by her handlers and managers can change that.  Jonathan Chait breaks it down:

Republicans have long had a kind of black-magic fear of the Clintons’ political potency. From the right’s perspective, Bill Clinton won the presidency at a time when the GOP thought it had an electoral college lock. Then he beat back the Republican revolution and the party’s efforts to defeat him.

The reality is less dramatic. Bill Clinton defeated a recession-weakened president with some help from a third-party spoiler, stopped the GOP from cutting highly popular social programs, won reelection during an economic boom and rallied his own party to thwart a wildly partisan impeachment crusade. None of these triumphs required unusual political skill.

Hillary Clinton has tried to piggyback on her husband’s ferocious reputation, boasting that she “beat the Republican attack machine.” Of course, if anybody beat the Republican attack machine, it was Bill. Hillary Clinton wasn’t on any ballot in the 1990s. True, her reputation was at stake, but that’s a fight she lost: She ended that decade a highly unpopular figure. She remains one today, with about half of the public persistently telling pollsters they have an unfavorable view of her.

Obama also is something new, or, rather, something forgotten:  a capable politician with good political skills.  We’re so used to boring, wonky, and dry politicians that are bad speakers and also socially awkward that we have forgotten his style was once ubiquitous.  No one 50 or 100 years ago would have mistaken his political and social skills, devoid of any serious policy content, as something to get too excited over.   But ours is a very decadent age!

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Bill Clinton’s fans and Bill Clinton’s critics sometimes forget that he did not govern in a particularly liberal way.  He was a moderate, the king of triangulation.  Yet he was widely hated by conservatives and loved by liberals.   He was chiefly a symbol, and his damage to the presidency was symbolic, not failures of policy so much as a day-to-day degradation of the dignity of the office. 

As president, Clinton lacked grace, respect for protocol, and concern for the nation.  The omnipresent trump principle always remained Bill Clinton himself.  A normal person–even a deeply flawed normal person like Richard Nixon–throws in the towel when he’s embarrassed himself and undermined his putative cause.  But Clinton and his allies fought and fought and fought against Republican critics when he was caught screwing young girls in the Oval Office and then lied about his misbehavior under oath. 

Democrats, eager to stay in power after years of exile, acquiesced and cheerfully bought into his self-serving account of runaway prosecutors and Vast Right Wing Conspiracies.  Now these same Democrats are learning what was obvious to decent Americans ten years ago:  this is a vulgar man with no respect for anything.  His undignified campaigning for his wife during the Democratic Primary stands in stark contrast to George H.W. Bush’s aloofness in 2000.  But the idea that an ex-President should move beyond party politics into the role of elder statesman is impossible for Clinton.  And it’s impossible for the same reason he could not restrain his sexual desires as President, nor resign when busted:  he does not respect any principle that might restrain him.  He’s a criminal narcissist.  He is the cause, the goal, the summum bonum. 

The Democratic Party and its operatives disgraced themselves in their unwavering support for Clinton during his presidency.  Barack Obama, whatever else he might do, could restore some normalcy to the presidency after Clinton’s narcissism and Bush’s utter incompetence.  If nothing else, it would be nice to return to a lower-stakes politics, where the President’s sins would be confined to policy and not threaten the turbo-charged destruction of basic cultural standards.

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