People are living longer. Just look at the number of ex-Presidents we have living yet. There are four, and I can’t remember when so many ex-leaders of the country have been alive and compos mentis.
There have always been ex-Presidents who lived beyond their term of office. Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Ike all lived to be reasonably, if not very old men; but it’s always been sort of an unwritten tradition that ex-Presidents were allowed to retire gracefully to work on their library legacy (unless you were an established criminal, like Richard Nixon, and then you were allowed to retire in ignominy) and were expected to refrain from comment or criticism of the incumbent, whether he was a member of their party or not.
Of course, many engaged in charitable or philanthropic endeavours and were wheeled out to wave or address the faithful at various party conventions or caucuses, but most knew enough to demur tactfully from any commentary on the state of the government of the day or the current inhabitant of the Oval Office.
The last two Democratic Presidents are alive and well and within the public domain: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – the former a symbol of Democratic failure and the latter basking in a state of post-Presidential beatitude. I voted for both.
During the first year of Barack Obama’s tenure, at the height of a long, hot summer of Tea Party madness centering on the healthcare debate, when everyone was screaming “death panels” and “pulling the plug on Grandma,” NBC sought Jimmy Carter’s opinion about the strident scenes of ugly criticism directed at the 44th President of the United States, by his opposition, both elected and within the public domain.
Carter was quick to tell the obvious truth, which no one in the media wanted to confront: the real reason behind all this Tea Party insurrection, the demonstrations, the name-calling, the accusations and armed people showing up at rallies, was racism, pure and simple.
Carter was a Southern man, who’d come of age during the era of Jim Crow, a liberal Democrat from the geographic area which used to harbour the Democratic base. He knew and could readily identify racism, no matterr how subtle the perpetrator intended it to be, and the Rightwing of the day was hardly subtle. Straight up: The hatred borne by the Right against Obama was racial, pure and simple.
I, personally, think Carter hit the nail on the head. A lot of other people with whom I’ve spoken pretty much think so too; but obviously, this was an answer that unsettled the news media, and they took their cue from the White House, who played down the remarks entirely. They reported what Carter said, and moved on precipitously.
Well, of course, the White House would play down any insinuation of racism. This is a seminal Presidency. An African American in the White House isn’t going to play the race card, even when he’s cognizant enough to know exactly why he’s being meted the treatment he’s receiving from some sectors.
And so, President Carter was dusted off, thanked politely, and returned to his Presidential box.
It would appear in this instance, that absence did not make the heart grow fonder; or maybe Carter hit a bit too close to the truth, and maybe that truth isn’t just popping up on the Rightwing side of the political coin. Because now, several voices are being raised in identifying a brand of racism, peculiar to the radical chic of the extreme Left, emerging in Progressive quarters.
In the case of the Big Dog, Bill Clinton, absence has made some Democratic hearts pine longingly, and a Presidency which began twenty years ago is now viewed through rose-coloured glasses as a bastion of liberalism.
In political terms, Bill Clinton’s still a reasonably young man. As head of the Clinton Global Initiative, he’s frequently seen at high-powered and high-profiled events around the world and in the United States. I can’t remember another President who’s been interviewed as much and as often, post-Administration, by everyone from David Gregory on Meet the Press to David Letterman, right down to Jon Stewart. In fact, Bill Maher is messing his knickers at the prospect of getting Clinton on his program for an interview.
Even the President has called upon Clinton for help in getting his message across, especially when turning a press conference over to him after effecting the infamous (for blinkered, disgruntled EmoProgs) Bush tax cuts compromise.
Don’t think for one minute, Barack Obama didn’t know exactly what he was doing and why when he had Clinton answer questions asked by a press which have been nothing less than openly disrespectful to the current President. Any viewer with nous could cast his mind back to the sort of questioning the President had received only weeks before in the wake of the 2010 Midterm shellacking, when fluffly sprites like Savannah Guthrie insouciantly asked the President point blank if he “just didn’t get it,” and compare that with the measured, respectful questioning Clinton received when he addressed the press corps.
Since then, it seems as if almost every move or utterance the President has made has been followed a few days later by someone ferreting out Clinton for a comment. The 42nd President has been tact incarnate in refusing to comment or criticize a Democratic successor, but in the wake of the increasingly infuriating Republican intransigence regarding the debt ceiling, some perspicacious hack tracked Clinton down recently simply to ask him what he would have done in this instance.
Clinton replied that he would have used the 14th Amendment option and dared the courts to challenge him.
The press and the EmoProgs went wild.
More and more, in various areas of the Left’s photosphere, amidst all the speculation and media-enhanced spin about the President’s latest betrayal of “caving,” I’m seeing EmoProgs whine and wail about the good old days under Clinton, and wondering now amidst all this sturm und drang “WWBCD” (“What would Bill Clinton do?”)
It’s all very well and good for Mr Forty-Two to say he’d invoke the 14th Amendment in this current crisis. He’s the equivalent of an armchair quarterback now, lobbing suggestions from the sidelines, along with everyone else, after the fact, when, actually, if he were faced with such a similar situation, he’d do what he did for six years between 1994 and 2000: try to effect some sort of compromise with the Opposition.
It’s simultaneously funny and sinister how the most strident voices on the Left now channel Clinton, reincarnated as a Progressive’s dream, whilst at the same time their increasingly hateful rhetoric brings to mind those people, all over the country, to whom the 39th President referred.
You have to wonder why the longing for Bill Clinton has established itself so firmly that these people, as ignorant of history as their Rightwing brethren (it would appear) think life would be a Progressive’s wet dream if Slick Willie were staring down the recalcitrant ignorati inhabiting the House on Capitol Hill.
This is Bill Clinton, who, in 1993, effected the largest cuts to Medicare in the history of the program, backed by a Democratic Congress. That’s right. Bill Clinton cut Medicare significantly, and there was nary a peep from the high-profiled Liberals about in the day – not from Ted Kennedy in the Senate, not from Bernie Sanders, who was in the House at the time.
This is Bill Clinton, who abandoned any pretext to discussing healthcare reform after the same Democratic Congress slapped down his attempt. It was 17 years before this subject was addressed again, and this time it passed, successfully, despite the attempts of such so-called powerful Progressive voices like Jane Hamsher, to railroad the legislation.
This is Bill Clinton , who when the same Democratic Congress demurred allowing gays to serve openly in the military, instituted the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell legislation, which the current President managed to get repealed.
This is Bill Clinton, whose was forced to compromise for six of the eight years he served as President, because in the 1994 Midterms, he not only lost the House, but also the Senate, and he had to deal with one Speaker Newt Gingrich, who – in and of his day – was just as uncompromising as the current crop of fools on the Hill. He compromised, and – sorry – but I didn’t hear any sort of objective rumblings from the likes of Joan Walsh, who was certainly palling around in the incipient cyber blogworld of the day. If there were grumblings, they were always directed at the Republicans pulling the strings.
This is Bill Clinton who signed off on NAFTA and repealed Glass Steagall and signed DOMA into law, and this is Bill Clinton, whose Cabinet officials and advisors included some of the current President’s most strident and vocal critics of the day, Robert Reich and James Carville.
This is Bill Clinton, or a mythologically progressive facsimile thereof, that scores of EmoProgs are channelling each day as the clock ticks down to Debt Ceiling Armageddon.
It’s so easy to make people from our past into historical giants to the point that the somehow begin to resemble the gods from Olympus. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson – all become some sort of purist role models of strength to be emulated, figures of such gigantic moral proportion that the current incumbent of the White House becomes almost prosaic in comparison. It says quite another thing about our historical perspective when certain of us project such onto contemporary high-profiled figures still with us, like President Clinton. And it becomes more than wishful thinking when someone with a bully pulpit like Chris Matthews forgets himself (again) and refers to President Clinton as the President, not once or twice, but regularly in a segment on his show.
Think again about President Carter’s words, and all the ugly rhetoric and language being directed at the President (that’s President Obama, thank you) by various and sundry voices from the Left, high-profiled media voices whose thoughts and opinions trickle down to the lesser mortals who are their sheeple.
I supported Barack Obama’s candidacy from its beginning, and I’m a white, Southern woman. If you supported the centre-Left pragmatic realist that he was, good for you. If you supported a Progressive who was willing to die for single payer healthcare and ending all wars, you didn’t listen.