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La Plume De Jonah; Top Ten Things Clinton Has in Common With The French


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Jonah Goldberg

LA PLUME DE JONAH
The French have a phrase, “Il n’y a pas d’enemi à gauche.” If you don’t speak French your first stab at a translation would likely be, “I surrender!” Surprisingly, it doesn’t mean that. It means, “There Is No Enemy to the Left.” But if confronted with a rifle-bearing German (or even a fat tourist from Dusseldorf asking for directions), you could probably still throw your arms in the air and yell, ” Il n’y a pas d’enemi à gauche!” and it would do just fine. All French sounds like “I surrender!” when you throw your arms in the air. So does “coq au vin!”, “Mon Dieu!”, and whatever “I’m sorry, wait right here Mein Herr. I’ll get the refugees out from my basement right now” is in French.

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Anyway, the French gave it a name, as is their penchant, but the sentiment seems to be universal for the Left. Solidarity to the left, contempt to the right. We are about to commence what I think will be a very long trial. While everybody on TV seems to think that this is the result of the troglodytic Right pressing things to their barbaric conclusion, the reality is the reverse. Sure, some conservative Republican senators and representatives are doing this because they have a constituency that makes me look like a Fabian (not the “singer” who sang “Turn Me Loose” and starred in Ride the Wild Surf but the British society dedicated to gradual socialism, founded by George Bernard Shaw, among others).

But the people who have forced this trial are the Leftists and liberals who believe that “Il n’y a pas d’enemi à gauche!” The Democratic party and the Left generally are committed to coalition politics. Their mantra is, “As long they help me get mine, I’ll help them get theirs.” After all, is there any philosophical reason why a married teamster with two kids living in suburban Chicago would sign on to a radical gay-rights agenda? Maybe he believes in gay rights may be he doesn’t, but there is no overall philosophical umbrella that covers both groups.

The Right, on the other hand, is ideational. We believe that we need to believe in something. As Richard Weaver argued in his book Ideas Have Consequences, ideas have consequences. That’s why we’re always kicking the dickens out of each other. Neocons versus paleocons, libertarians versus social conservatives, Romulans versus Klingons, and so on. The Democrats cannot bring themselves to throw one of their own over the side — especially when the reason why Clinton is in trouble is because he’s exhibiting many of the personal characteristics the Left finds most appealing. So they will stick with the man until the end. Even though in private, Washington Democrats hate Bill Clinton more than anybody at a Bob Barr fundraiser. They are enabling Clinton to act out his passive-aggressive behavior on a national, nay, a global scale. Clinton will drag this on forever. He will demean the Senate, the House, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He will make everyone say impolite things. He will embarrass everybody because ultimately that’s how he’s gotten out of every other jam. Just look good and stay shameless.

Conservatives resign. They get incredible heat when they screw up, partly because the press enjoys burning Republicans more, but also because conservatives don’t like their ideas to be discredited. Often to our discredit, we throw people over the side all the time. The Democrats believe that when one of their allies is in trouble, that is precisely the time to help them the most because that is when you’re most likely to exact the biggest concessions. It is a matter of group psychology and both approaches have their merits and demerits. On some level, you have to admire the willingness of honorable Democrats like Pat Moynihan to clutch the Clinton anchor all the way to the ocean floor. Or, from the other angle, honorable Democrats should at least admire the willingness of moderate Republicans to burn at the polls for their loyalty to a principle (it is a grand media myth that moderate Republicans are beholden to groups like the Christian Coalition).

The biggest irony of course is that Bill Clinton, while he exhibits a great number of French attributes, does not believe in “Il n’y a pas d’ennemie á gauche!” He was essentially a Nixon-to-China Democrat. He sold out his base on Welfare. He attacked Sista Soulja. He gave up on his ludicrous “stimulus package.” He ordered the execution of a retarded man for political expedience. He caved to Greenspan. And so on. He doesn’t care about his base except when he needs to hide behind it. And, out of habit, his base is doing him the favor.

THE TOP TEN THINGS CLINTON HAS IN COMMON WITH THE FRENCH
10. Everything intelligent is complicated.

9. In foreign policy, the less vital and more irrelevant the country, the bigger a priority it must be. Or, American interests, American schminterests.

8. Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’. In French, it’s “manger n’est pas tricher.”

7. The sound of talk is always preferable to the silence of conviction.

6. It isn’t racism if you’re convincing in your condescension.

5. Stalin was entitled to his opinion.

4. truth is never spelled with a capital “T.”

3. L’etat c’est Moi!

2. Anything that tastes good, tastes better drenched in butter and cheese.

1. Mistresses are a job perk.

COMING TOMORROW
Corrections, corrections, corrections.

Also, we will answer the question: Why Joe Lockhart nearly exploded over the idea that actual witnesses be called.



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