Politics & Policy

‘Move On’

Hillary and Bill in 1998 (Stringer/Reuters)
A short history of a Clintonian banality.

Writing on Monday about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ongoing e-mail problems, Young Master Ian relayed this from Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and longtime Clinton-family sycophant: “I really do think it’s time for the candidates and for the American people to move on.”

Interesting choice of words: move on.

“Move on” is of course the Clinton family motto. If the Clintons had a family crest, the Latin at the top would read: “movete!

In fact, you can quickly get a read on a particular individual or organization’s dedication to kissing Clinton ass by noting how quickly it deployed “move on!” and how deeply it is dedicated to that motto.

The gold standard there for many years was MoveOn.org. For you youngsters out there, MoveOn.org is a self-described progressive group that was founded in 1998 in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, who committed perjury and suborned perjury in the course of trying to cover up his sexual exploitation of White House intern Monica Lewinsky, a crime for which he eventually was disbarred, though Senate Democrats ensured that his impeachment did not end in conviction and removal from office. Once he had exhausted every possible avenue of dishonesty, Clinton issued an angry denunciation that nearly took the form of an apology, and his minions immediately began demanding that the country “move on!”

MoveOn.org was founded by Clinton toadies for the purpose of Clinton toadying, though it eventually succumbed to what we must understand as a corollary to O’Sullivan’s First Law of Politics. O’Sullivan’s First Law, which comes to us from my friend and former National Review editor John O’Sullivan, holds: “Any institution that is not explicitly right-wing will become left-wing over time.” The Clintons were never exactly left-wing, but the organization dedicated to servicing them became leftier-wingier over time, and endorsed Bernie Sanders over Mrs. Clinton this time around after a poll showed that three-quarters of its daft and barking-mad members preferred the Vermont socialist to the Democrat in the Democratic race.

MoveOn.org has moved on. But the Clintonian motto survives.

After President Clinton’s girl trouble obliged his partisans to cry “move on!” his much-abused and humiliated wife was given the junior Senate seat from New York. (And to think: Some men buy jewelry!) When Senator Clinton found herself having to explain away more of President Clinton’s shenanigans during a press conference — the president was accused of peddling pardons, and her brothers, Hugh and Tony Rodham, were deep in the scandal — the words “move on” were deployed by Mrs. Clinton’s friends in the press and by professional apologists such as Representative Marty Meehan, today president of the University of Massachusetts.

After her brief service in the Senate, Mrs. Clinton ran for president and was defeated in the Democratic primary. She moved on to the State Department, where her inept service left the country with a great deal of moving on to do. The massacre in Benghazi and the lies Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration told about that? “It’s time to move on,” she said before the ink on the official report was even dry. E-mail scandal? “move on!” says Panetta — and Geraldo Rivera, and various Democratic peons and sub-peons from sea to shining sea.

Move on. Funny how those exact words keep popping up.

“Move on!” is a strange demand to make on behalf of a woman such as Mrs. Clinton. “Move on!” means drawing a line at the current moment in the timeline, leaving the past to the past and dedicating now to the future. That sounds appealing from a certain addlepated and idealistic point of view, but if you are running on a long record in public office and on your experience, insisting that the past is a foreign country is odd, indeed. In 2008, a young and fresh-faced Barack Obama might have plausibly used “move on!” as a slogan: The country certainly was ready to move on from the Bush years, and he was youthful, energetic, and relatively new to the scene. Mrs. Clinton has many qualities that she might offer voters, but she soon will be running hard up against her 70th birthday, and her campaign of 1990s nostalgia represents the opposite of a break with the past. She is offering the very freshest political thinking of 1968 when she isn’t sidelined into the latest cutting-edge policy ideas from 1916.

Move on? She’d be lucky to catch up.

But consider this: President Clinton’s performance in office demanded a “move on!” Mrs. Clinton’s performance as first lady, aiding and abetting her husband’s various misdeeds (which were far from limited to sexually preying on the help) inspired a great deal of “move on!” Mrs. Clinton’s time in the Senate called for a “move on!” of its own. Her tenure as secretary of state was “move on!” after “move on!” after “move on!” She’s still demanding we “move on!” today, and her hangers-on sing a “move on!” chorus day and night.

It says something about the Clintons that every time a member of that sorry clan is given a position of public trust, it ends with a demand that we forget how they abused that trust and instead “move on!”

Most peculiar.

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