Tag Archives: Clinton

Is Bill Clinton throwing the game?

Let’s start with the indisputable facts. Bill Clinton, like him or not, possesses a preternatural gift for public relations. He handles the press brilliantly, and if we ever create a National Bullshit Hall of Fame (it would only be right that it be located in DC using pork barrel money) he should be the charter inductee. I envision a wax statue of him welcoming visitors at the entrance to the museum, holding a blue dress behind his back, winking and giving the bitten-lip thumbs up. The statue’s eyes would follow you around the room, like a renaissance painting, except you’d get the distinct impression it was checking out your junk.

Bill Clinton in his element

Given his facility with the public, it’s puzzling how he is campaigning for his wife so badly. First, the man previously known as “the first black president” (with surprisingly little irony attached) royally pisses off black voters with his Jesse Jackson comments in South Carolina, handing Obama virtually every southern state. And now, he clumsily manages to breath new life into Snipergate by throwing some more lies on the fire, just when we’d finally moved on. It’s almost like he was saying to the press “Come on, you folks can still wring some more mileage out of this! See?” He’s been more helpful to Obama than anybody on Obama’s payroll. Bill’s coming across these days as a crazed badger, not the smooth operator who brought the most fun to the White House since Truman installed the bowling alley.

What’s going on? Has Bill gone crazy? Crazy like a fox, perhaps. People are too polite to admit it, but deep inside we all know that Bill doesn’t like Hillary any more than we do,* and he’s got even more reasons. (Notwithstanding that they are his fault.) And do you think Bill Clinton, man’s man around country matters, serial womanizer, the guy who used state cops to shuttle chicks to and fro the gubernatorial love bunker in Arkansas, really wants to be remembered as America’s inaugural male First Lady? That’s a hard role to swallow for a dude like Bill. He doesn’t want to give up riding shotgun on Marine One. He wants to be hitting on Sarkozy’s hot wife, not throwing her tea parties in the West Wing. Sure, he’s supposed to be Mr. I-feel-your-pain, but you don’t get to be the most powerful man in the free world without having an ego, and my guess is that his can’t handle the idea of being number two on Air Force One.

So, he’s throwing the game, shaving points. Except he’s Bill Clinton, so he’s good at it, and manages to come off as rabidly supportive of his wife at the same time that he torpedoes her bid for presidency. Sure, it’s the worst kind of wrong. But he’s just a person, and he wouldn’t be the first unemployed guy to resent his wife getting a job. Plus, if you cheated on your wife with hundreds of women, humiliating her in front of millions, wouldn’t you be a little nervous about her becoming the most powerful person in the world? Hell hath no fury like a commander-in-chief scorned.

How I learned to stop worrying and love Obama

Maybe love is too strong a word. I typically vote for Libertarians and the occasional Republican, and usually consider Democratic primaries like the political version of NASCAR: I don’t care who wins, but enjoy watching the crashes. However, the Republicans have lately forgotten their core values of limited and responsible government, and are spending like drunken sailors on shore leave (back when the dollar was worth something). The most decent man in the race, Ron Paul, was never even given a chance despite being the only one of the lot who actually understands economics or the concept of a republic. On the other hand, the Libertarian party is starting to get on my nerves, as it’s increasingly clear they will never get their act together and be anything more than a loose federation of ineffective idealists drowned out by a core of anti-government shack dwellers who don’t understand the first thing about classical liberalism but simply don’t like paying taxes. Finally, through the dishonesty and mismanagement of decades of administrations BOTH Democrat and Republican (don’t listen to anybody so simple-minded as to tell you that all of our problems are due entirely to Bush) our country is in the worst shape anybody in my generation has ever seen, in virtually every arena possible. You can thank the Bushes for the wars, of course, but you can thank Carter and Clinton for the lax lending policies that were meant to help poor people get homes but ended up turning the middle class into real estate speculators. And we can thank the lot of them for a corrupt government that bails out corporations and throws subsidies at politically powerful industries, devolving us into a perverse version of capitalism where taypayers take on the risks and the owners of capital still reap the profits.

The upside to things being so dire is that they are, in many ways, clarified. In truth, there is much low hanging fruit which honest politicians of any ideology should agree need to be fixed: earmarks, tort reform, corporate welfare, border security, massive government redundancy and inefficiency, etc. People may differ on approaches to economic theory, but I think it’s safe to say that hardly anybody thinks corruption and graft is a good form of government.

From all the partisan rancor, however, you’d think other than baseball steroids and Tibet, all the problems we face are of inscrutable complexity and hopelessly nuanced. But all the partisan heat is just part of the divide and conquer strategy employed by our “leaders” on both sides. Like clever sleight of hand sharps who get you to look at what the Right hand is doing while the Left hand is taking your watch, they hope that if they convince you their opponent is evil, you’ll fail to notice they’re not much better.

At this point, whether or not we have universal health care pales in comparison to whether or not we return to being a society with integrity. It is a common mistake and conceit to think if only we have the right system of government with the right laws, all else will fall into place if we just sit back and watch. This applies to those that think all will be right if we only have more socialism, as well as to those that think more laisez faire capitalism will automatically cure our ills. A government only applies rewards and forces, or the lack thereof. It is a force, not a fate. What matters more, above all, is the value system and cultural dynamics of the people under that government. Capitalism may enable great things, but it is a guarantee of nothing without a society composed of individuals who take responsibility for themselves and their neighbors, and who are thus capable of operating with the trust necessary for free trade to work. Capitalism is merely the absence of interfering artifice, in some sense, and the exposure to natural restoring forces; it will punish a society that does not treat its members with respect and fairness in the long run, but it will not inherently cause anybody to change themselves. On the other side of the idealogical spectrum: to the extent that socialism represents the will of the people to help each other, it is unnecessary, and to the extent that it represents an essential collective coercion of individual actions, it is unsustainable in the long run. I don’t mean to equivocate between socialism and capitalism; that matter is for another time. My point is simply that in either case, the notion that our destiny is in our system is a fallacy. It is in our culture, and a government can either be a road or a bog, but the private sector is the only thing that can do the driving.

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