Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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McCurry on Clinton

I talked to a student today about Clinton. He was smitten with his general demeanor, ability to talk, etc. I tried to point out his flaws (never mind not agreeing with him on this or that) but without success. Then I caught this from Mike McCurry, Clinton’s press guy:

"Despite Clinton’s many domestic and international advances during his two terms as president, McCurry said, above all, ’the record and legacy of the Clinton presidency is, dare I use the word, "stain."

’In some ways, he had enormous potential and political gifts. But, they didn’t arise because of his lack of discipline,’ McCurry added."

Discussions - 6 Comments

I’m still smitten with the man.

I must admit that I have never been able to understand the hold that man has on some people. I get that there are superficially charming aspects to his demeanor--the way he can relate, or seem to relate to everyone in the room and apparently make them think that he thinks they are important. But it always came off as so phony and fawning and pathetic to me. I have never seen that man give a speech in which the center and focus of the thing was not himself. If you don’t believe me, count the "I’s" or "Me’s" and the next time he you hear him talk. To tell the truth, I have always felt sorry for people who find Bill Clinton attractive and engaging--it’s as if they’ve never met a person who was genuinely attractive and engaging. Bill Clinton is the shadows in Plato’s cave by firelight rather than the sun. He might be an amusing guy to be around in a certain way--perhaps if you were drunk--and he’s certainly got energy and interesting appetites . . . but ultimately, he is so low as to make even a poor Falstaff. Falstaff, I suspect, would at least have had better taste. Ultimately it comes down to this: you could never really trust him. He does not seem to be capable of real friendship (think of his associates and how they have mostly slipped away from him or he has betrayed them). So I will say it again: I don’t get the fascination with him.

Julie - I share your puzzlement. But on the other hand, I know some pretty skeptical - even cynical - people who, upon meeting Clinton in person, succumb to his charms despite themselves. It is sobering.

Fred, I also like Clinton. He is by far and away my favorite Democrat(I wish you knew how left handed this complement really was) In all seriousness Julie name a Democrat who is superior to Bill. So Clinton is an egomaniac, not to mention narcistically self-indulgent, and without discipline...his legacy is "stain"...blah, blah, blah. I don’t think people understand the extent to which his strengths were predicated on his weaknesses...I like Bill because in reading his book, one could almost finish his sentences for him...you could trace his mind, his thinking...see how everything is interelated. I am personally tired of attacks on Bush and Clinton, and Reagan, and Carter, and FDR, and Washington, and Jefferson, and Jackson, and Burr...just like I am tired of attacks on NFL players, NBA players, and Major League Baseball players, CEO’s and CFO’s, gansta rappers, figure skaters, Successfull Professional criminals, University proffesors at Harvard...and anyone who for various reasons some expert believes has somehow not met some abstract or traditional standard of greatness. Really at bottom all complaints about people who have achieved a higher level than we have, boil down to moaning that the world isn’t fair...If you play poker, you will encounter people who want to tell you all their bad beats(it has to be some law of human nature)...how so and so won a huge pot from them by hitting an inside straight, when they had two pair and there was a flush on the board and $50 in the pot and they made it $300 to go with one card left...blah, blah, blah. But the world is fair, in the long run everyone gets what they deserve...and Clinton equally deserves his praise and his blame...the only question is: Who is really in a position to praise him or blame him? Not me...

I really could give two shits about Clinton...my only point is that when you make it into a bad beat(assume that Clinton had no virtu) you are probably wrong....the majority of his actions had to be correct, or he would not have reached that level....

I think that so many of the critiques on "greatness"...are basically a bunch of people moaning that the world isn’t fair...that they are somehow Job, or that they are a nice guy, but that thugs or bad boys are getting all the girls...

And I think this complaining attitude is a bad habit. But of course I am complaining about people who complain...So I will cease and desist and leave it at this: In the long run, fluctuations in fortune cancel themselves out and everyone gets what they deserve...and this was even true for Job...whom God blessed richly. But if you don’t assume this then there is no such thing as rationality because all is fortune and chance, and the world is a cruel, cruel place...pity you...

O.K., John Lewis. You win. You puzzle me even more than people who fawn over Clinton. And there’s no question that Clinton is a certain kind of genius. But Virtu is a better way to describe his actions than virtue.

Clinton has obtained the rare status of a ex-president that could, if it were permitted, hold (at least) a third term. And that says that there is something special about the president and the man.

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