Bill Clinton is all over the place now, campaigning for Democratic candidates. He is their number-one draw, apparently. And he can go to places where President Obama is damaged goods, so to speak.
For the past year and a half or so, some conservatives have been experiencing Clinton nostalgia. The sentiment is expressed as follows: “Compared with Barack Obama, this flaming radical, ol’ Bill wasn’t so bad.”
Um, count me out, is all I’m saying. Watching Bill Clinton on the campaign trail this year has brought back the revulsion I once felt, those years ago, when Clinton was president. The bullying, the arrogance, the dissembling, the lying, the defaming. The refusal to regard Republicans or conservatives as people, with points to make. As opponents to be engaged and argued with.
(To be sure, Obama et al. exhibit the same mindset.)
Clinton’s perpetual line, of course, is that people are voting Republican this year, or thinking of doing so, because they’re “mad” — mad as in angry. The implication that goes with that is that the voters are mad in another sense, too: nuts, out of their minds. How could you vote Republican if you were a rationally thinking human being?
There was a bumper sticker once — probably still is: “I Think, Therefore I Vote Democrat.” If you say so yourself, schmuck.
Barney Frank, up in Massachusetts (unless you live north of there, of course!), is having a tough challenge, from a neat Republican named Sean Bielat. How tough is this challenge? Frank thought it wise to have Clinton come up and campaign for him.
In the Taunton High School gym, the former president said, “The only thing that really matters is, What are we going to do now? What are we going to do now, and who’s more likely to do it?” Okay, Bill. “If those were the questions the voters in this congressional district asked, Barney Frank would get 85 percent of the vote and we wouldn’t be here.”
Meaning, there would not even be a competitive race. There would be no need for a rally featuring the former president. There would not have to be this tedious old campaign — democracy and all that BS.
If only the voters had their heads screwed on right! If only they asked the right questions! Oh, why do you plebes waste my time with this need for a contest? Why should there be any argument at all? Why should there be a second party in this country!
More recently, Billy J. was out in Nevada, campaigning for Harry Reid. There, he was in another gym: that of Valley High School, in Las Vegas. I will quote a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Clinton said that ‘in a normal time’ Reid would be winning his re-election bid by 25 points and his GOP challenger Sharron Angle wouldn’t be an electoral threat to the incumbent.”
Again, that sense of entitlement: Why should we have to compete for our seats? Why don’t they just trust us, and reelect us automatically?
Said Clinton, “You and I know the only reason this is a tough race is because people are having a tough time. When people are mad, it’s time to think.”
Oh, I think they are.
Clinton then spoke of the horror of ads run against Senator Reid — ads by Republicans, against a Democrat! Can you imagine the effrontery? Said the 42nd president, “If you knew who’s giving the money, you would know that the ads weren’t true.”
Oh, really? And how’s that? Clinton did not elaborate (of course). He simply smeared.
But here is the pièce de résistance: The former president said about Angle, “This is a woman who doesn’t want women to have mammograms.” The Review-Journal commented, “Actually, Angle voted for mandating insurance coverage for mammograms when she was a Reno assemblywoman. But in general she opposes mandates because she says they increase the cost of insurance for everybody.”
“This is a woman who doesn’t want women to have mammograms.” Forget what you or I or Angle or Clinton might think about appropriate government policy. “This is a woman who doesn’t want women to have mammograms.” What a disgusting lie. And to think that Clinton was once president of the United States.
No, I don’t miss him at all. Count me out. I think I’d rather have Barack Obama for two terms than Billy J. for one. I think he probably has more honor, heaps more. We forget the never-ending stream of lies, the finger-wagging prevaricatin’ and fulminatin’. Yeah, he signed Republican welfare legislation, and a free-trade agreement, when he was running for reelection and “triangulating.” So?
I will have more to say about this in the next issue of National Review. (That’s not a promise, as a friend of mine would say, it’s a warning.) This little ’promptu has been just a taste. But let me finish with this:
Bill Clinton is not the worst of the lot, I acknowledge. I trust you won’t mind if I recycle a line from the 2000 campaign. I used to say, “I’d rather be locked in a discarded freezer with Bill Clinton for a year than have a brief, delicious lunch at the Four Seasons with Al Gore.”
UPDATE AND CORRECTIONS: The Las Vegas Review-Journal indeed quoted Clinton as saying, “This is a woman who doesn’t want women to have mammograms . . .” I subsequently found other reports that had a different and fuller quotation: “. . . this woman who doesn’t want women to have mammograms in their health-insurance policies . . .” That is a different thing: not quite honest and honorable, because Angle does not want women to be unable to have mammograms in their insurance policies; rather, she questions mandates. But it is less despicable.
Also, Clinton signed welfare reform, but not NAFTA, when he was running for reelection: He signed NAFTA in December 1993. Apologies.