Politics & Policy

Goodbye to All That

The longest and last Clinton-bashing column.

I read recently that Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Dear God, I’ll take back that whole thing about You being dead if You can just do something about this burning sensation when I pee.”

But the syphilitic sage was onto something. The best jokes usually test new lows. Which is why I find it so hard to take Clinton seriously anymore. In fact, if you look back you will see that I have not written about the Big He once since my Year-in-Review column at the beginning of January. The guy’s a joke. A sick joke, but a joke nonetheless.

But wait, before I continue; in order to head off the e-mail from people who always write me about how I am an irrational Clinton-hater, incapable of being able to “move on” and blind to how wonderful their white-trash messiah really is (he’ll walk on a sea of Mr. Pib for your sins), let me just say this: fine. I’m a Clinton-hater. I hate the guy. Hate, hate, hate. The Secret Service doesn’t need to worry about me or anything, but whooo boy, I think that guys sucks.

Or at least I used to. Now I just think of him as a narcissistic buffoon who wasted a lot of opportunities and left a big greasy ring around the White House. Of course, if he could have run for a third term I would have been out there in the streets shouting “Decrease the Peace!” “Inflate the Hate!” and “Hate IS a Family Value!”

What’s Irrational About Hating?

But the guy isn’t worth the effort now. What is worth the effort is to make the point that Clinton-hating was never an “irrational” thing in the first place.

This whole idea that hating or being “ideological” or “extreme” is inherently irrational has been the brain burp of deluded liberals for generations. When liberals hate, it’s patriotism or righteous anger; when conservatives feel equally strongly, it’s irrational, it’s dangerous, it’s troubling. Just to show how far back conservatives hold paper on this grievance, recall Barry Goldwater’s experience. He said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” One reporter at the time commented, “My God, he’s going to run as Goldwater.” That same year over a thousand psychiatrists ran ads in newspapers declaring Goldwater was not mentally stable enough to be president.

Never mind that nobody has ever explained why that statement isn’t true, let alone perfectly consistent with two generations of liberal rhetoric. It’s just that extremism and conservatism combine in such a way as to cause a Pavlovian unhinging of liberal sphincters.

Getting back to the Metternich of McDonald’s, we can all recall how criticizing Clinton from the right was derided as a mental defect, a psycho-sexual fixation according to the Blumenthalian weltanschauung — which reinterpreted the old gentlemanly rule that men lie about sex in order to defend a woman’s honor into the dictum that smearing a woman’s honor is necessary in order to lie about sex. If Jesse Helms — hell, if Olympia Snowe — had read Joe Lieberman’s incredibly tepid indictment of Bill Clinton on the floor of the Senate, it would have been dismissed as so much “extremist partisan rancor.” But when Lieberman said in effect, “Golly, it was wrong of Bill to lie, but I’m not going to do anything about it,” he was hailed as the enduring Hebraic statesman for all eternity — by the same fellow Democrats who denounced the exact same sentiments when offered by Republicans.

Nickel and Dime ‘til the End

Anyway this is old, old stuff. What’s new is how many people are finally beginning to realize the metaphysical tackiness of the man (the Wall Street Journal does an excellent job of surveying the media’s sudden realization that you need to, literally, count the silver when it comes to the Clintons.)

As you no doubt have heard by now, the Clintons left town exactly as they came in, overflowing with arrogance and more than a couple of pints low on class. His staff trashed the place on the way in and they trashed it on the way out, this time cutting phone lines and vandalizing the place.

When criticized, these children reacted with perfect Clintonian shamelessness. They said “Republicans did it too! When we came in some hard drives were missing.” Alas, it doesn’t matter that that’s a lie. The hard drives were missing because an independent counsel took them. But who cares? The charge is rebutted with a nasty accusation. Bill must be so proud.

And then there’s the fact that the Clintons circulated a list of gifts they wanted from supplicants and sycophants to stock their new home — which is being paid for by a book deal that would have cost a Republican his career. The list of gifts solicited and received looks like the kind of thing African kleptocrats demand from multinational corporations before their contracts get processed.

Hey, it’s not just ol’ irrational me talking. “The list demonstrates again the Clintons’ defining characteristic: They have no capacity for embarrassment,” the Washington Post editorialized Wednesday. “Words like shabby and tawdry come to mind. They don’t begin to do it justice.”

One of the gift givers (two coffee tables and a couple of chairs) was Denise Rich, wife of Marc Rich, one of the people Clinton pardoned. Rich was a fugitive who never stood before a court to face charges, usually a requirement for a presidential pardon. But don’t think for a moment Clinton did it for some bric-a-brac. No, he did it for Jack Quinn, a lawyer who ably spun for Clinton over the years and who happens to represent Mr. Rich. Rich’s pardon didn’t go through channels, perhaps because professionals would never have recommended it. Instead, Bill Clinton looked at that sad-sack look on Quinn’s face and, oh yeah, all of those checks Mrs. Rich had given his campaigns and his defense fund, and he decided to “do the right thing.”

Rich got his pardon on the last day of Bill Clinton’s presidency, as did 139 other people. There was Susan McDougal, the more than slightly loopy and completely corrupt woman (convicted of bank fraud) who refused to testify against Bill Clinton because, well, we’ll never know because she got away with it. There was Bill’s brother Roger, who obviously deserved a pardon for dealing cocaine, even as this administration has locked up more drug dealers than any other (I don’t mind it that much, but it should bother at least some Clinton lovers). There was former Rep. Mel Reynolds, who was convicted of having sex with a minor working on his campaign (when an undercover agent asked Reynolds if he’d like to have a threesome with her and a 15-year-old “Catholic school girl,” he responded by saying, “Did I win the Lotto?” and then eagerly asked which school she went to).

Okay, this one makes some sense.

Once he was done signing the pardons (and no doubt keeping the pen), he went off and signed a deal admitting that he lied in the Lewinsky case after all. As Chicago mayor Richard Daly observed, “In Esquire magazine, he came out right before the election and said the Republicans owe him an apology. Then, the Friday before he leaves, he said, ‘I’m sorry, I did it.’”

Not that we needed the newsflash, but once again he let all of those people who worked for him look like fools and liars again (Lanny Davis, call your office). Then, after he ate his spinach and got off the hook, he ordered his lawyer David Kendall to go out and say that he actually didn’t lie after all.

And then, in defiance of every tradition governing departing presidents, Bill tried to deprive the new president the limelight. Again, just so I don’t sound like the irrational one, let’s let Mayor Daley tell you what happened: “In the past, they shook hands, the (former) president went to a helicopter, and that was it. This was different. He had a rally at the airport, a rally in New York and a rally at his home. It was really different, really unusual,” Daley said. “That’s his style. He wanted two or three more parties.”

At the airport rally, Bill Clinton said, “You see that sign there, ‘Please Don’t Go’? I left the White House, but I’m still here. We’re not going anywhere,” he said, chuckling as he secured his status as America’s most obnoxious and self-absorbed president. Indeed, Charles Krauthammer points out that in his 1,000 word talk, Bill Clinton used “I” or “me” 56 times. Take it from the author of the most self-referential column in the world (until Bill Clinton starts writing one) that is really impressive.

The Clinton-Lovers Are the Extremists

Ultimately, as I’ve always believed, the burden is on those who irrationally love the guy. That he is a liar and a narcissist of Biblical proportions is irrefutable. Even the instrumentalist argument, that they love him because he is “good at his job,” is preposterous because he has been good at betraying all of the principles that Clinton-lovers hold dear. He signed the Defense of Marriage Act, but badmouths it at every opportunity. He let millions die in Africa, but talks as if he did everything he could. He switches his license plate to the pro-D.C. statehood version only when he can no longer do anything about D.C. statehood. He says nasty Republicans forced gays in the military on him and that he despises the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy he signed into law and called honorable. By smearing the women he’s molested and possibly raped he’s made sexual-harassment laws an even bigger joke than they were, all the while politically castrating the feminist women (that’s not funny!) who love him so much. He claims his greatest accomplishment was stopping Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, which were a direct result of national disgust with his first two years in office. It’s like a disease claiming credit for thwarting the anti-bodies it has triggered.

No, I think the irrational people are the lonely hearts of both sexes who prostituted themselves for the pimp they love; every time he bitch-slapped them, they forgave him because he is such a beautiful, complicated man. Hating Bill Clinton (both the sins and the sinner) is a rational response; loving him takes a bizarre leap of faith.

We started talking about Nietzsche and we might as well end with him, too. The two have a lot in common. One argued for the “transvaluation of all values” and the other for the devaluation of all values. One wrote that God is dead and the other lived it. One argued that a single man’s “will to power” could trump the petty considerations of traditional society, the other proved him right. One man’s life ended because of his sexual appetites and the other’s life was defined by them. The difference, of course, is that Nietzsche was honest in his contempt for conventional morality; Bill Clinton lied about his.

I have no doubt that Bill will continue to lie and exert his will to power in an effort to remain the center of the universe, but fortunately for me, I don’t have to write about it anymore. I can no longer muster the hate to do it, because he doesn’t matter. He is now just an epigram on a dying feeling.


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