Archive for the ‘Lewinsky’ Category

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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