Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bill Clinton, Sinking

Ever since Clinton left office I have been waiting for liberal revisionists to begin recognizing him for the disaster he has been for Democrats. After all, it was during the Clinton years that Democrats began their slide into the wilderness, and for what? If Clinton had got universal health care, gay marriage, or peace in the Middle East, it might have been worth it. Instead they got welfare reform, a balanced budget, the first capital gains tax cut in 20 years, and a Republican Congress.

Today, Richard Cohen unloads on Clinton in the Washington Post-Democrat, calling Clinton a "third-tier" preisdent. Moneyt quote:

Reading John Harris’s new book about Clinton "I could hear the air going out of the balloon and a soft, weary voice of Peggy Lee singing, ’Is that all there is?’ In Clinton’s case the answer apparently is yes."

Get used to this. Much more of this is on the way. 

Discussions - 32 Comments

You are too generous to Cohen. His whole screed is about how the evil Republicans prevented Clinton from greatness, with a dollop of "Clinton was too fortunate because he lived in boring times" blinders to Clinton’s decision to actually turn a blind eye on anything except himself.

I didn’t read it that way. You are right that Cohen ladles it thick on Republicans, but remember, in 1998 and 1999, a guy like Cohen would only blame Republicans for Clinton’s problems; now he is beginning to admit that Clinton was himself defective in some ways. The trickle of criticism from the left will become a flood in the fullness of time. Especially if Hillary wins the 2008 nomination and goes down in flames, which is very possible.

Now that exasperated Dems are beginning to see what a self-absorbed stinkfoot Billy Jeff really was, the $64 question is: "How much of the stench will cling to Hillary in, say, the nostrils of Democratic activists and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire?" Last year these people were clear-eyed enough to ken the essential unfitness of Howard Dean. In 30 months’ time will they similarly see through Hillary?

Remember that tiny window of time in 1998 when Garry Wills was urging Clinton to resign and let Al Gore become president? How many Dems, thinking of that and what might have been, would like to join Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico in searching for time-travel devices on eBay?

But no, Clinton put himself first, as always (does a leopard have spots? do bears go poo-poo in the woods?) and Democrats slavishly defended him (as Republicans did NOT defend Nixon during Watergate--it was GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee who were key in pushing Nixon out). Gore himself was among the most slavish of all, when he thumped Clinton on the back and extolled his "greatness" during that sickening White House impeachment-day pep rally to which so many Democratic members of Congress lent their presence.

Recalling shameful displays like that one, it’s hard not to think that the Democrats have richly deserved whatever negative consequences the Clinton legacy brings to them.

Steve, You’re grading Cohen on a pretty liberal curve if you only compare him with himself, as opposed to say, objective reality.

Well, I guess I am becoming soft and mellow in my middle age.

Mr. Hayward: You may be cutting Mr. Cohen some slack, but you have put you finger on the Clinton legacy. Question is: will we live long enough for the libs to tell the truth about that legacy?

I think that efforts to paint Cohen’s review of Harris’s book in absolute terms is to miss the tone. This is an open, honest, regretful look at what might have been. While it might be tempting to circle like a bunch of tiger sharks at the hint of blood, I think (and hope) that you are wrong about Dems and their allegiance to the Clintons.

Monica notwithstanding, I look at the prices at the gas pump, the increasing efficiency of the "insurgents" in Iraq, the economy, the death and wounded toll in Iraq, the cult status of bin Laden, the freedoms sacrificed to the patriot Act, the profits of Halliburton, the barbed wire at Gitmo,the federal deficit......

I cannot represent all Democrats, but Bill is still my guy. Perhaps he didn’t achieve the greatness of Washington and Jefferson, but I would bring him back in a heart beat.

Just in case you are wondering what some real Dems are thinking......

It’s funny that you mentioned bin Laden, since Clinton passed on bringing him to justice in the late 1990s.

Yea, Fung, we could bring Mr. Bill back and you all could collectively bury your heads in the sand (just like in the happy 90s)! What joy. Most of the terrible stuff you list is not a big deal, and the men and women (both Americans and Iraqis) who are dying are trying to build a better world. All you Dems are good for is criticizing and second-guessing (generally while you are sucking the great government teat). I haven’t seen any real leadership among Liberals since...since...LBJ?

"the barbed wire at Gitmo" makes you nostalgic for Clinton, Fung?

Who do you think is kept confined by that barbed wire, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington? A bunch of insurance salesmen from Poughkeepsie who got a little out of hand at a Shriners’ convention?

The men behind the Gitmo wire would like to rip out your entrails and mine and use our innards for worry beads, Fung. We’ve probably already let too many of them out, and it’s not what’s in their murdering hearts but rather the barbed wire that helps to guard the remaining illegal combatants which worries you? Sheesh. Maybe liberalism really is a form of death wish after all.

Fung, What about the spread of Democracy and Freedom throught the world? What do you think the USA should have done after 9/11, just sit back and let it happen again? Have you noticed that the economy is getting stronger? Have you noticed that our troops in Iraq are getting their job done. The Iraqi people are no longer being subjected to Saddam and his murdering dictatorship! Do you recall the Taliban? We have a President now who is helping spread freedom and democracy and then there are individuals such as your self who would take CLINTON "back in a heart beat". Hello!

What about THAT! Mr. Fung... Sorry! I just had to get my OJ Simpson attorney line in. I just couldn’t resist! Thanks! Bye now...

So many arguments, and so little time!

To Dain: Yes, the stuff I mentioned IS a big deal. The price of oil is not only a very real influence on, and index of the health of the economy, but it is also a symbol and a sign of our dependence on the Middle East, which we are quickly alienating.

The profits of Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton are another indicator of the capitalistic and unethical motives behind this war, and also of the disconnect between profit motives and human concern.

The increaseing numbers of dead and wounded soldiers may not mean much to you, but it does to the families of the wounded and dead.

And individual freedom sacrificed for the Patriot Act? No big deal? Have you read that thing?

To PJC: Why did you select only the barbed wire line? Probably the weakest line there. I’ll assume that you agree with the rest!

As for the rest of your argument: I know that those guys hate us, and that if they were freed, they would continue to try to kill us. But that ignores how they got there, and how they came to hate us in the first place. If I shook up a nest of bees, I would want a good barrier between myself and the bees, but I would also learn pretty quickly to stop shaking the nest!

I know, your next reaction will be that I want to coddle, or cave in to terrorists. That is not the case. I just want an administration that understands, practically, you cannot treat the whole world as though it is a deficient form of America!

Bush tells us that "they hate us because we are free." If that is the case, then why don’t they attack Norway? Norway is free. Belgium is free. Why not attack Belgium? They hate us because we keep messing around with their governments, and their economies, and their religions. We put military bases in their countries, and embargoes on their governments that only hurt the young and the weak.

They hate us because we are arrogant, and because we are camped out in their back yard.

Dain, in a comment on an adjacent post, believes that that is real politic. You have also suggested that my argument about North Korea, and China, and Saudi Arabia is somehow naive. I would suggest that you are choosing to take that argument literally, when I know that you are smart enough to see that it is a logical, rhetorical argument, and not a suggestion that we go attacking every thug nation on the globe.

The reason that we don’t attack North Korea is that we are afraid of the consequences. The reason that we DID attack Iraq and Afghanistan is that we were certain that we could win.

So, what does the Iraqi do, or the Iranian, or the Saudi, who perceives the American saber rattling, and the Muslim-hating, and the oil-gluttony, and Bush’s "who next, bring-it-on" rhetoric? They cannot hope to threaten us the way North Korea can, or the way China can. And so they go for the underbelly.

And I know that Bush didn’t invent Manifest Destiny, or real politic, or American dependence on oil. And I know that terrorism existed long before he owned his first baseball team, or smoked his first joint. But I see him doing NOTHING to reduce Islam’s suspicion of America, and NOTHING to reduce our dependence on oil, and EVERYTHING to alienate America from our allies and to create future enemies, while the oil companies get fatter, and the underclass keeps greeting their sons who arrive home in coffins that our "Free" press is not allowed to photograph.

Zsa Zsa- What job are they getting done? I heard that the mission was accomplished a long time ago! Iraquis were preparing to line the streets to welcome the conquering heroes! I think you have this debacle confused with our liberation of Paris.

So, all of you: If you want to embrace what Dain calls "real politic," then embrace it. Just don’t waste our time, or insult us with "They hate us because we are free," or with WMD’s, or the "Madman Dictator has to go" business. Back when Iran had us by the short hairs, he was OUR dictator.

And one more thing about Clinton and Bush: Recently, it seems to be in vogue to trivialize Clinton’s balanced budget and surplus. The one that Bush liquidated in about 10 minutes. Sooner or later, Bush is going to be refused when he returns to Congress for yet another 87 billion to continue his disaster in Iraq. How are you going to engage in real politic with no money? And finally, if Republicans are such tough guys, and Dems are such wimps, how come 9/11 happened on your watch?

I’m tired. It’s exhausting bringing the truth to so many who need it!

Fung, if you are exhausted it’s because you release so much hot air...so many calories!

Virtually everything you said in this latest rant is incorrect. The price of oil NEEDS to be higher to get over our dependency...that’s what YOUR party leaders have said for YEARS, and why they support higher gasoline taxes (what hypocrites you all are!). As for the Halliburton ’scandal’, there is not there there. If so, indict Cheney and shut up! The Patriot Act was just extended and endorsed by a bipartisan committee in the Senate...even your own party thinks you are wrong here. And none of us ever trivialized the sacrifice of our soldiers and the Iraqis...stop ignored what I actually say!

As for the "bees’ hive" garbage, what’s really going on in the Middle East is a civil war between radical anti-modernists and more modernist elements. We get dragged into to it because 1) we do business with modernist governments in the region, 2) we are the "West" for all practical purposes, and 3) we make an easy scapegoat for radical discontent with their own societies. As for terrorism, they’ve been killing us regardless of President and policy for forty years now. Just as I thought, Fung, you hate Amerika as much as these terrorists do. Why? Because it doesn’t live up to your standards (even though you don’t hold any other country to those absurd standards, now do you?).

As for "happening on our watch," it’s a good thing you are standing here in person.... For eight years the Democrats squeezed the "peace dividend" and generally ignored the needs of our military. For eight years Clinton was too busy diddling his interns to do much about terrorism. Most of the planning for 9/11 occurred on Clinton’s watch...hypocrite.

Dain, I like a good debate as well as the next person. But, you are just too full of hate to let it be fun. How do you get off suggesting that anyone that disagrees with you hates America? Who died and made you Ayatollah?

AMF

Fung

Nope, it’s not hate for other countries or even hate for you. It’s something more along the lines of disgust and disdain for the childish prattle of sheltered, unrealistic people. No country has ever been perfect, but according to most liberals only America gets singled out for approbation. It’s why most of you secretly approve of totalitarian attempts to "reforge" society, at least so long as it’s in your own images (very little criticism on the left for the horror of communism, for instance -- motive counts for more than results). Pure narcissism and silly idealism...it’ll kill us all if we let it.

Actually, Fung, they do hate us because of our freedoms. Read Paul Berman’s book about Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual godfather of modern Islamist terror. He came here to study during the Truman Administration (a time commonly portrayed by Hollywood and other liberal outlets as a time of hopelessly repressive and benighted sexual mores) and went back to Egypt loathing American, in no small part because he found American women (and this is about 1949, remember!) so shockingly "uppity" and forward, and he thought American mores were generally way too free.

This had nothing to do with the Palestinians, or oil, or the rest of the blah-blah-blah we always hear from radical Arab nationalists, Islamic extremists (at least the ones with a more sophisticated propaganda sense, like bin Laden), or their Western dupes and stooges like you. Rather it was the sheer metaphysical horror of a man terrified of liberty and a social order based on liberty.

As for Norway: What makes you think the jihadis don’t have plans for Norway? Norwegian forces have fought the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Norway has been the target of terror plots. Both Norway and Sweden, moreover, already have notable problems with "honor" killings carried out by Muslim-immigrant men against women kinfolk who "shame" the family (in one notorious case, by wanting to go to college). But Norway is only a little Satan, which the jihadis know will be ripe for the plucking once the great Satan has fallen. And of course the defeatist fools within the great Satan who prate and cavil endlessly about everything the great Satan does to defend itself while manufacturing endless strained excuses for the great Satan’s deadly enemies will be a big help to the jihadis too. The jihadis count on them the way the Confederates counted on the Copperheads.

Comment #13 reveals yet another person who hates the Patriot Act and yet cannot point to one violation of civil liberties under it. More unconstitutional actions have been taken under the commerce clause by Congress.

To note further on the Patriot Act, only its passage finally allowed the indictment in a U.S. court of Sami al-Arian, the Florida engineering professor who was the North American major domo of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Without the Patriot Act, al-Arian would probably still be pulling down a taxpayer-funded 5-figure salary at the University of South Florida while spending his free time raising money to fund the murders of Israelis and Americans:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A34773-2003Feb20¬Found=true

[And yes, I’m aware that years ago al-Arian--a well-practiced and systematic dissembler who masqueraded as a purely peaceful activist and who couldn’t be charged w/ anything b/c pre-Patriot Act the law wouldn’t allow for surveillance data about him to be used in a criminal prosecution--got his family in to see Bush at one time and got a standard-issue "grip & grin" photo op.]

PJC - Apparently, you didn’t see Peter Schramm’s polite request to not make your comments "personal." I think calling Fung a "stooge" ("...stooges like you...") certainly qualifies as personal and rather disrespectful. I don’t know if Mr. Schramm has seen your comment, or plans to remove it, but why don’t you just show some of that famous conservative restraint, and keep things diplomatic and respectful, ok?

Peter didn’t say to talk to each other like they teach my child at three-year-old pre-school either. Don’t be a baby.

Novoselic:

What do you think the "MF" in Fung’s sign-off to Dain stands for? Something about the tenor of the comment to which it’s appended tells me that it’s NOT "My Friend." On this comment thread Fung also called Dain an ayatollah, which I don’t think was meant as a compliment. If you’re gonna play moderator, I suggest that you should at least try to make a show of being evenhanded with your admonitions.

BTW, Novoselic, your sarcastic comment about "famous conservative restraint" also ill befits someone who wants to posture as the arbiter of what’s "disrespecful" and what’s not. How "diplomatic and respectful" is a cheap sneer like your "restraint" crack? Not very, I’d say. In fact, maybe it’s YOUR comment that ought to be deleted on "respect" grounds.

PJC - actually, I don’t know what Fung’s sign-off meant; it was "AMF," not "MF." Is that some standard internet acronym, like FWIW (For what it’s worth) or IMHO (In my humble opinion)?? I don’t know it; perhaps only Fung does. I was hardly posturing as "the arbiter of what’s ’disrespectful’ and what’s not." I was simply giving my opinion about your use of the word "stooge" aimed at Fung - notice that I said "I think..." I believe I was also clear in recognizing Schramm as the "arbiter" on these matters. I was simply giving my opinion on your "stooge" remark. And I don’t see how "famous conservative restraint" could be seen as disrespectful. You are clearly conservative, and I think most people would agree that conservatives are known for taking pride in being restrained and diplomatic, not hostile and volatile, when debating opponents. I thought your "stooge" name-calling was out of line - my opinion.

"AMF" commonly stands for "Adios MotherF***er"--hardly a very courteous expression, but the "Adios" part isn’t that which most vividly expresses contempt and disrespect, so I referred only to the ’MF’ part. Or does calling somebody a MoFo not count as name-calling if you’re a leftist?

The AMF valediction came at the end of a comment in which Fung accused Dain of being "full of hate" and taunted him by comparing him to a cruel theofascist dictator. Diplomacy and respect, indeed.

To be fair, I baited Dain, though I did not intentionally bait PJC. That is part of why I am signing off for a while. My wife would like me to attend some home and family issues, and to stop ranting and raving about my friends on the right-wing blog.

Thanks to this blog for allowing dissenting opinion. Thanks to many of you for the challenging and collegial debate. To C Novoselic, the "A" stands for Adios. The phrase is a relic from my long-haired days. It was beneath me,and I apologize to the rest of you.

Dang, Fung, don’t leave! You’re almost always grossly wrong, but you’re forthright and you do have the rare nerve to come and rave on a wingnut blog where you know you’ll draw lots of flak. And on the rare occasion when you read something you can actually agree with (like my reflections on the American regime a while back), you praise it with honest generosity. I respect you a lot more than I respect the kind of poseur and phony who would schoolmarmishly pretend not to know what "AMF" stands for.

AMF, and Fung You.

Thanks to both of you. I won’t leave for good, but I think my wife is right. My kids will be talking to me about their days, and I am thinking about the last thing you wrote. Not good.

It’s like an addiction, though. I just signed off from here a while ago, then turned on c-span to watch the hearings on the Patriot Act. The chair closed the hearings, and the Dems kept talking with the Amnesty Int’l witnesses, often without mikes. High drama! I’ve gotta get my life back!

Somehow in my education I missed what "AMF" stood for - the first thing I think of is bowling and sports equipment. If not keeping up on such sophomoric crap as insult acronyms makes me a "schoolmarm," so be it. At least Fung has actually apologized for what he wrote, an act likely unfathomable to PJC and Dain.

I also respect Fung because he usually makes forthright and substantive comments on threads, instead of diverting them with soggy and patently one-sided sermonettes on side issues as part of a weaselly, innuendo-laden effort to get Peter to come and delete someone’s posts.

Yes, Novoselic, I know how to apologize when there is a need to. Since I was called an "MF" I don’t see the need here, nor any reason to be anything other than hostile.

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