Andrew Breitbart reported several weeks ago of meetings and conference calls between John Podesta, Bill Clinton, and other old Clinton hands with the purpose of formulating a strategy for the Tea Party movements. At the time I thought it was funny, but now, after Clinton's speech last night at the Center for American Progress dinner it seems they will press the theme of radical rhetoric leads to violence. As reported on Drudge, Clinton made several claims, or rather claims of guilt by association, refusing to draw direct lines between any actual violence that has occurred and actual rhetoric made at Tea Party rallies. Clinton flagged the term "gangsta government" used by Rep. Michelle Bachmann as one instance of out of control rhetoric that "could" lead to violence. This ignores the origin of the term which speaks to the wholesale intimidation of secured creditors of Chrysler who received less than they should under normal bankruptcy procedures. This wholesale devaluing of the bankruptcy process by Obama's administration remains hard to ignore. A charge of arbitrary and capricious behavior is necessary and needs to be made.
The thrust of Clinton's talk is mostly warmly baked Thomas Frankism whereby we are treated to the lonely, alienated American who finds a strange release and connection with aggressive conservative arguments. And thus the Right channels anger away from real problems. Clinton walked through his own strange challenges and how Gingrich, et al, channeled this anger against him throughout the 1990s. Times haven't changed much observes Clinton. The anger, however, is at a fever pitch and 'could' pose violent eruptions within America. Clinton disclaims that he is charging anyone with hate speech or that he believes in censorship. Of course. Then he launches into his own emotion-laden observations of the Ok city bombing. It was the best of America, Clinton states. McVeigh, himself an extreme example of the alienated American, is tied by Clinton to talk radio, Gingrich, even old Dick Armey, all by association of white-hot political speech. Clinton intersperses the speech with several 90s Gingrich quotes.Things had gotten too hot, Clinton said. That Clinton gave a talk last night trafficking in guilt by association might be an understatement.
It seems the racist tag isn't working. The easy fix is to charge the Tea Party movements with the unprovable offense of inadvertently promoting violence through their rhetoric. Said rhetoric, Clinton informs, is illegitimate because it emerges from alienation, anger at change, dislike of immigrants (Clinton specifically cited this), frustration with the economy, etc. There are no real arguments here folks is Clinton's hanging message. The strategy is now making the case of separateness, as in, you listening to me are normal, well-adjusted, employed, reasonably happy. If you aren't, you should be, you can be.The last thing you want to do is identify with or find yourself agreeing with Bob the Tea Party protestor at work or down the street.
Of course, that might be just the point Clinton can't counter. The disaffection and angst is too broad and too deep to be repelled. The Empire has no moves left.