In Which We Try To Have The Last Word on Bill Clinton. Good Luck.
If statistics are right, I have just pissed off about one third of the people reading this by saying his name. The people who hate Clinton don't just dislike him and make jokes about him. They hate him with a fire that burns with the light of a thousand points of light and want to see him not only punished by torture, but everyone who ever said they didn't hate Clinton as much as them must be punished and shown the error of their ways as well. To some people, Bill Clinton is the most evil human being to walk the face of the Earth. I actually got an e-mail from someone who said that Clinton was as close to pure evil as they have ever seen. Another person said that even after I pointed out that Nixon bombed Cambodia, inadvertently bringing about the rise to power of Pol Pot and the deaths of millions, as well as using the FBI to go after his political enemies, and trying to authorize National Guard troops to fire on anti-war protestors that Clinton was STILL a more evil human being than Nixon.
So, I finally came to my conclusion. People who hate Clinton are not living the same reality as me, and need to be watched for putting aluminum foil on their windows and thinking that dream last night proves they are the spawn of aliens and/or angels. And I don't much like their reality.
When I ask them why Clinton is so Evil, I always get the same answer. "He lies."
Let's think about that.
Putting aside the fact that the only big lie he ever got in trouble over was that he wasn't cheating on his wife, the fact that a politician lies doesn't exactly fill me with loathing so much as it fits my expectations. When I watch Star Trek, I expect a start ship and techno-babble. When I watch Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, I expect to see vampires being slayed. When I watch The Crocodile Hunter, I expect to see someone get attacked by an animal. When I watch FOX, I expect to see explosions and women in skimpy outfits. And when I see a politician, I expect them to lie. I don't think they mean to do it, but politics is, by nature, a profession where you tell people what they want to hear.
And what people want to hear is that we can cut your taxes, do wonderful things, make the world a safe and beautiful place and none of it will cost you a single dime.
In other words, people want to hear lies.
Now, whenever I point out things like this, people who hate Clinton lump me in with his followers (with one particularly psychotic individual accusing me of getting talking points from the President) Let me make this fairly clear, Clinton was an opportunistic, phony, cheating reprobate who I wouldn't trust in the same room as my girlfriend. He reminds me of the guys at the gym who brag to everyone about how his neighbor's wife wants him. Wants him bad. He may be a good salesman, and he may do his job right, but you just want to put on a rubber glove before shaking his hand, making sure none of the sliminess comes off on you.
I started to dislike him when he took time out of his 1992 campaign to preside over the execution of a man so mentally incompetent that he asked if they would wrap up the pie from his last meal so he could have it later. Why? So he could seem tough on crime. Not because the man deserved our barbaric death penalty more than anyone else, but because Democrats were always seen as soft on crime.
As President, Clinton said he would work on the economy. He did and did a fairly good job. He said he would cut taxes on the middle class, and while he didn't cut income taxes, he did work on Tariffs...which are taxes on imported goods that raise prices in a way we don't see. In eliminating them, he both grew the economy and cut the overall tax burden more than Reagan did. Let's remember, it was a Republican idea to erect those tariffs so high in the first place, and Pat Buchanan ran in 1992 on raising them even higher.
"Clinton screwed up the Presidency and now no one respects us."
Yeah, "President" Bush is going to gain us international respect when he can barely speak English. His first two executive orders have pissed off the European Union and gotten Switzerland mad at us. Switzerland didn't even get mad at the Nazis. People don't seem to grasp this, but overseas Clinton was loved, and respected. They didn't care that he was getting hummers in the White House, they just knew that he worked out agreements on trade that were good for both sides, and gave a damn about countries who didn't have oil.
You want to see just how "disrespected" we are through out the world, ask the people of Yugoslavia, which we liberated without the loss of a single soldier in combat, stopping a genocide. Or the people of Mexico who Clinton was able to work out a economic recovery for that was so successful they paid back their loans before they were due. Or the people of England who liked Clinton so much they elected their own version of him. Or the people of France who actually put forth a plan for him to move there and become THEIR Prime Minister.
Foreign countries hate us for a lot of reasons, but Big Tubby Bill isn't one of them.
"Clinton did a lousy job running the country."
Clinton, after a disastrous first two years that came from his party not being in power for 12 years, found that the best way to get people to like him was to raid the Republican's ideas, strip out the parts that people didn't like, and present them as his own. And it drove the Republicans crazy. They'd campaigned for decades on cutting the deficit, and Clinton took the idea and actually did it. They'd run for years on being tough on crime, he proposed hiring more cops, even though the Federal Government doesn't have a lot of say in that. They bashed the entertainment industry for sex and violence, he worked out a ratings system for TV shows.
No wonder they hated him. He did what they'd been saying they would do for years, and if they opposed it, they look like hypocrites.
Best example of this? The Republican screamed for years that the President should have line item veto power over laws, like governors of states do. They made it part of their 1994 "Contract With America." They passed it. Then, when Clinton used it, they sued, took it all the way to the Supreme Court where it was struck down. I guess they wanted to pass it so they could have it declared unconstitutional and never discussed again.
The country had a huge economic recovery, the budget started having surpluses, more jobs were created than at any time in history, and yet he failed? "Oh, it was Congress who did that." Owlshit. You can't praise Reagan for the 80's without giving Clinton props for the 90's. Clinton was a great policy wonk who understood how the economy was changing. Bush's economic recovery plan in 1992 was "Buy more stuff." Clinton understood that the economy itself was shifting and we had to open markets to the world, not charge more on the credit card and hope we still had a job to pay for it when the bill came.
This doesn't mean that he was a great President. He continued selling off the country to the highest corporate bidder, ignored international agreements that weren't in US business's favor, waited until his last month to do anything about how we are destroying the planet, and pretty much let the stock market have the White House.
And the money. If you thought the past money raising was disgusting, Clinton took it to new heights. Reagan had had business leaders and donors stay at the White House, and Bush all but auctioned off Ambassadorships, but Clinton may as well have been Bugsy Seagel the way he turned the White House into the biggest fundraiser since PBS during pledge week. And all the Republicans could do was chide...they couldn't investigate because each time they did, they found out their hand was in the same pockets. They tried to investigate China contributing, but it dropped faster than a Bobcat Goldthwait sit-com pilot when they discover that they had taken money from the exact same people, sometime at the same events.
My opinion? Clinton was the President we deserved. We knew he cheated on his wife. We knew he would do stupid, embarrassing things from time to time. We knew he would be the best target for David Letterman and Jay Leno and we elected him anyway. Twice. It's not like we were shocked when we found out anything about him. The only thing that would have shocked me about Clinton would be if we found out that he and Hillary made it through a week without her beating the crap out of him.
I have now officially tried to write a droning about the end of the Clinton era three times.
Each time the tubby bitch refuses to bow and let the curtain come down. I swear he's like a Grateful Dead concert where after the 10 encore you realize you are never EVER going to get to see them do Truckin', turn up the house lights and let you wait in the parking garage for 40 minutes while people argue about not being given a parking voucher.
The first time was the night of the election. I was on the phone with one of my friends for WAY too long about what was going on, and I just kept waiting on if I would write about the continuation of the Clinton era or the repudiation of it. In the end, I had two half written droning that I had to put aside to try and write something about the orgy of Public Relations and Marketing that happened after we got done voting.
And Clinton stayed in the news, reporters dutifully covering everything he did.
Then, as things wound down and the Supreme Court appointed us a new "President" that was the child of the man who had had a hand in appointing most of them, I started doing another one on how Clinton had changed politics and what his influence would be. Since he was leaving office soon, he'd most likely spend some time wrapping things up, giving final speeches and telling us what he'd be doing in his civilian life.
But, Clinton stayed in the news, reporters dutifully covered everything he did.
Then, as new scandals broke, I watched as most of them turned out to be nothing but the usual suspects who made a LOT of money and good careers out of making Clinton out to be Satan incarnate having one last go. Many of the "so-called" scandals (like stealing from Air Force One) were outright lies, while others (taking gifts as they left for their new home or "trashing" the White House) turned out to be either exaggerations or things that the last two Presidents did while leaving office as well. Reagan's 3.4 million dollar house that was a gift to him from campaign contributors to Bush, anyone?
And Clinton stayed in the news, reporters dutifully covering everything he did.
Now, the latest scandal seems to have some legs. Which it's very murky, it appears that Clinton gave pardons to people who didn't deserve them, may have given them at the request of big money donors, and at the very least looks like what every one of his critics say he is: a slimy, backwoods, money-grubbing bastard with the ethics of a Republican and the self-righteousness of a Democrat.
About the pardons, I'll bet that Clinton has perfectly logical explanations for what he did. No one will believe it. Not us. Not the Republicans. And not even him. However, for the most part we'll smile and nod, and think about what a great bull-shit artist he is. For all their bluster, the Republicans never want him to go away. They make more money every time he shows up with an unanswered question than if they were to have Charlton Heston show up at people's houses to re-enact Planet of the Apes.
Everyone is thinking that once the pardon scandal is over, he'll fade away and do speaking tours and the like. Wrong. The press loves Clinton. He's like Led Zeppelin on tour, except instead hotels getting trashed and 16 year old girls being hustled out for detox, you have white trash hillbilly relatives and scandals that take forever to be fully exposed and resolved. He's Temptation Island in business suits and filled with bad looking women. He's not going anywhere any time soon, so get ready for him to feel your pain all over again.
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