Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clinton on Fox News

By now, most people have seen President Clinton's little tirade on Fox News. Cause, you know, Fox News really did a hatchet job on him by making him address, you know, the content of his presidency, as opposed to, you know, like, hailing him as an economic visionary or a brilliant statesman? You know, that kind of hatchet job?

All that can be said has been said about this man, I suppose, but I'm a blogger, so I am require to have an opinion. I had, largely forgotten about Bill Clinton. He was the vestige of a bygone era, a tabloid whore who rose to power in an era when Americans fell in love with the Dave Matthews Band, and could afford to take our leadership lightly. Of course, he drove Republicans bananas, what with the lying and the intern-nailing, and the lying to cover up his inter-nailing. He was allowed to be unserious, though, because America was drunk off a strong drink called the tech boom. The Internet was creating jobs for everyone! The opportunities were endless!

I remember, rabid partisan that I am, feeling quite indifferent to the 2000 election. The campaign was a jejune affair, between a famously robotic momentum candidate and some guy whose dad was president, and who may or may not have done cocaine. The race ended in a tie, for crying out loud. Of course, some of my liberal college friends were maudlin about the whole affair. "I have so many gay friends, and now the supreme court is going to ban homosexuality," exclaimed one girl over a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, in a moment more notable for sincerity than prescience.

Simply put, Bill Clinton trivialized the presidency. He made a mockery of the oval office (his staff raised quite a stir by trashing the place upon their exit). His last act as president was to pardon his convicted cronies for their crimes on his behalf. Ordinarily, this would evoke a response of shock and disgust from the American populace. Imagine what the blogosphere would have done with that, had there been such a thing in January of 2001.

Then, Muslims crashed some planes into buildings, and we needed a president again. Suddenly, America was kinda glad that they had lucked into someone who fit the bill (deep down, I think we still are). For all his rhetorical blunders, President Bush embarked on a campaign that responded to the attacks of 9/11 coherently and consistently.

Of course, the jury is still out on whether Bush's course of action was appropriate to the event, or whether it will be successful in thwarting terrorism. And, of course, Bush's defiance has rankled the political left in the same way Clinton's dalliance infuriated the right.

Say what you will, it is hard to remember a time when people simply did not care who was leading the country. Bush's presidency has been decidedly serious and almost singular in focus. Partisan fervor is nearing an all-time high, and America is aware of the stakes involved when political parties vie for public office.

Which brings me back to Clinton's appearance on Fox. It was strange to see him so unhinged, so defensive, so angry. His presidency had a scripted quality (in fact, much of it WAS scripted, by a republican strategist no less). He responded to withering attacks with lip-biting aplomb. His blase attitude and keen social skills garnered him no end of charisma-related (if decidedly unfavorable) monikers. And yet, here he was, defending his foreign policy with the passion of someone who, well, probably knows he screwed things up a bit.

It was a postmodern commentary, applying the vitriol of today's bitter partisanship to his laissez-faire presidency. It was a quixotic endeavor. The books and reports that he cited (even those written by his own cabinet) clearly revealed that President Clinton was not in control over the federal agencies, much less willing to guide them into the right course of action. His proclivity for straw-polling and message testing is certainly public knowledge. And now, he is defending his actions with the zeal of a blogger.

All I could think was, where was this when you were president? Where was the passion, the angry desire to do right by your office? Certainly, he had the intelligence, the savvy, the public support, and the political skill to execute competent foreign policy. He could have, but he didn't. In the late 1990s, when the Lewinsky affair was at its zenith, there was a bumper sticker that said "character counts". That's damn right. You can measure a man by the content of his character.

Bill Clinton was a small man. And, if this interview is any indication, he still is.

23 Comments:

Blogger That One Dude said...

What really bothers me is the fact that it is okay to accuse a person of something then never let them say a word in thier own defense. The only issue I have is why did Wallace let him talk like that and not take control of the situation.

3:39 PM  
Blogger renee said...

1. your blog reads like a thesaurus.

2. rabid partisanship is stupid

3. it also could be that people care more about the presidency now because they think bush the junior is doing a bang up job of alienating every country is not convenient to his (his cabinet's?) agenda. or that whenever he opens his mouth, he sounds like a complete dolt.

president clinton used metaphors. this has about as much to do with the quality of his presidency as his unfortunate choice of sexual diversion. character counts, but it is not the slippery slope you are claiming it to be.

people all over the world still love clinton because not only could he pronounce the name of their country, he visited most of them. and he had them convinced that he actually had the global best interest in mind instead of just his own country's tall buildings.

4. the problem with internet-based forms of communication when it comes to arguing is that it becomes far more difficult to have a point by point discussion. you will likely respond. i've been busy. i probably won't come back to defend myself, but i promise that i really do think you're wrong.

5. :-)

5:09 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Renee

1. You're blog reads like it's ghost-written by Zach Braff.

2. I was being tongue-in-cheek. I am conservative, not Republican.

3. I wish Clinton were just a smidge more interested in our tall buildings than pronouncing the names other countries.

4. I gathered that.

5. :p

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Thom said...

Man, face the facts, Bill Clinton beat the tar out of Wallace (at least according to Roger Ailes). If he wasn't a real man of integrity, he would not have gone all Braveheart/Gladiator on Wallace.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Unspar! said...

What happened to funny?

9:25 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Thom,

Gladiator will be a part of my W-FAT series.

unspar,

Just you wait!

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was also a bumber sticker that said "Morality Matters".

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Thom said...

But morality is kind of a loose term when referencing politicians anyways.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

For the record, anyone can "beat the tar" out of an interviewer, provided he is unwilling to let the interviewer speak.

Having said that, I think the meaning of my post was missed entirely. It wasn't to discredit Clinton. He undeniably discredited himself.

The point was that, in this day and age, it is amazing to think that we ever had such a sanguine attitude toward such a trifling person.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Thom said...

I was just poking fun at Roger Ailes absurd claim that Clinton *assaulted* Chris Wallace.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Chris Hill said...

There was also the "At Least Nixon Resigned" slogan. I think it was created by Jason Lewis back when he radioed in Minnesota.

Renee,

I disagree with everything you said including your smiley face at the end and even your numbering system. If we still lived next to each other, I would come over and say, "Hey, I disagree." But we wouldn't debate it, cause I would want you to give me some good recommendations for inexpensive wines, which is ironically also what I want now. Just respond on my blog.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Chris,

You and Renee should date.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Chris Hill said...

Kevin,

I am married. I don't think it would work.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Thom said...

Keep an open mind, Chris...keep an open mind.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Jason Lewis is still here - 100.3 FM in the afternoons. (I don't know anything about him - I just happened to tune in one day when there were no good songs on.)

11:04 AM  
Blogger Chris Hill said...

No way! He must have moved back. I'll have to listen online. It's been a few years...

I am trying to keep an open mind on the whole polygamy thing. I mean, the bible doesn't actually condemn it. It's just been my wife, to be honest. She isn't into it. I really don't know why...

(In case my humor didn't come across, cause sometimes it doesn't, I love my wife and have no desire to get any more of them.)

4:01 PM  
Blogger haynes said...

You realize Bush only cares about our tall buildings now after two of them got shot to shit, right? But because he cares about them now, we won't give him shit for not caring about them when it would have done a bit of difference? And he still doesn't seem to be able to strengthen relations across the seas. Which is, whether you like to think so or not, kind of important. In fact, he's probably kind of hurting those. Reducing them, at least, to merely a forced grin and nod that barely hides the disconcerted and obviously unsure idea of our country.

This whole thing was ridiculous. Is ridiculous. Both Clinton and Bush are huge douche bags, both have considerable problems. But Bush is the one who can do something now, and isn't. And to sit here and imply that Clinton is practically at fault for 9/11 because he didn't do more to stop Osama Bin Laden? What the fuck is that? Besides ridiculous.

2:24 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Clinton's erratic foreign policy laid the groundwork for the failings that led to 9/11. It was also the result of his obsession with image management, something that nobody who worked with the man will deny. Would 9/11 have happened anyway? Perhaps. But for Clinton to defend his record on this matter so feverishly seems almost to the point of parody.

12:41 PM  
Blogger haynes said...

If i was half as articulate as you i would try and retort, but Clinton's not worth the effort.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

On that we can agree.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous E.K. said...

You hypocrites gave up the right to whine about Clinton lying about a B.J. the second you chose to ignore the lies the Bush administration told to trick us into war. Of course, since you're hypocrites, you'll never realize that, much less admit it.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

I see some have made it over from Jim Wallis' blog. The monologue is, indeed, over.

1:01 PM  
Blogger haynes said...

Oh please, E.K. Lies? More like... little fibs. Regardless, war is just war. Felatio is a window into the dark soul of a moralless man.

5:58 PM  

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