The Bushes & Clintons Need to Stop Acting as if the Presidency is a Hand-Me-Down
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
I had only one sibling, a right wing brother named Patrick (but that's a tale for another day in American Zen's sequel). And the only thing that spared me the pain of having to wear his hand-me-downs was his utter selfishness. Oh, dear, I was forever denied the honor and privilege of wearing painfully starched and pleated khaki pants and Izod polo shirts with the stunted reptiles on them. But I did see other kids wearing their siblings' leftovers and sometimes they didn't respect them as they would've if they'd been given to them brand new.
I reckon the presidency's the same way. I'd imagine that if one knew their spouse or father or brother sat behind the Resolute Desk, they'd tend to see it as a family heirloom given to them by fiat. And perhaps an heir wouldn't feel the awe and sheer weight of history your average visitor would feel on briefly entering the Oval Office let alone working in it every day for at least four years.
And the Clintons, especially the Bushes, need to stop treating this venerable and unimaginably powerful office as if it was owed to them by dint of an accident of birth or the secular institution of marriage.
Even if all three Bush/Clinton administrations (five terms, 20 years or exactly 7300 days in all, minus Leap Year days) were models of governance, it would hardly make a compelling and convincing argument that common genetics or a marriage license would be a guarantee of further model governance. If any one family puts that myth to rest, it would be the Bushes.
And it cannot be said any of those five terms were liberal by even the most generous stretch of the imagination or the most torturous port side wrench of Joe Overton's window. George HW Bush, the only one termer in the lot, was voted out of office when his and Reagan's crimes upon the US economy were so glaringly obvious even a mostly brain-dead electorate could see it. Like Ford before him, he was supplanted by a little known southern Governor, only this time one whose name was suddenly on everyone's lips after a timely visit to the Bilderberg Group's 1992 secret meeting. And, in my mind, the biggest distinction of the Clinton administration is in the Big Dog being the last president of the 20th century and the first one of the 21st.
And it was a complacent American public that allowed the only good thing arising from the semen-flecked Clinton years (a $230 b surplus) to be squandered like, well, an inheritance by the over-the-hill frat boy that took over after him. We couldn't rouse ourselves to do much more than throw eggs and produce at the presidential limousine on Inauguration Day 2001, thereby making Junior abandon presidential tradition of strutting down Pennsylvania Avenue with that peculiar DT walk of his.
Instead, it was just a lot easier for most of us to think of Bush Jr as the legitimate president, although his ascendancy to the office was hardly traditional or even preceded and supported by the weight of law. Auguring in his favor was the fact that most Americans still remembered the days when another Bush was (legitimately) President and that gave it the thin patina of legitimacy.
And then, despite him committing one of the most catastrophic intelligence failures in history, we gave this boob a better than 90% approval rating after 9/11, thereby proving time and again that no matter how stupid, incompetent or ill-suited their leader, a nation will still rally around him in a time of great crisis for the simple reason there's no one else to rally around.
Now, former First Lady, former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running for President. Again. And she is, for now, the front runner and standard-bearer for not just the Democrats but that of both parties since GOP voters can't even decide on a clear-front runner of their own any more than the House GOP can decide on a House Speaker.
If You Think I Look Bad, You Should See the Other Guy!
Perhaps only two things and two things only make Hillary Clinton look appealing to so-called progressive voters: The ridiculous travesty of the email and Benghazi investigations that have officially been called, by at least two GOP Congressmen, preemptive hit jobs on a Clinton candidacy and the name fatigue and stench of corruption associated with the Bush brand.
It seems only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has any hope of catching Mrs. Clinton between now and the nomination in Philadelphia next July 25–July 28. Hillary, as with her husband before her, is an old hand at masquerading populism as liberalism only without strings attached. It's easy to take pot shots at Republicans as she and Slick Willie have for decades. But shadow boxing and cheap pot shots anyone can think up don't have to be backed up or delivered on at day's end. And it'll take more than verbal brickbats at big targets to get our nation back to where it should be.
The very concept of populism is lost on Republicans who have only hood ornament and wedge issues such as immigration, gay rights, tax avoidance and religious freedom to spew to niche audiences that Fox tries to puff up as being more substantial than they actually are. Unless 80% of all Democratic voters stay home on Election Day next year, it looks as if, based on the current crop of assclowns on the GOP side, the Republican Party has no chance of getting back in the White House.
But we don't need populism or Gotcha moments but actual, solid policy aimed at overthrowing the status quo that makes Washington DC the kind of place where, before walking out of a building in the Beltway, it's advisable to wipe your feet first. And the Clintons helped make DC the cesspool it is today.
Between an abortion of a health care plan that simply would've been co-opted by the nation's largest HMOs (as ObamaCare would prove to be), Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of Glass Steagall, NAFTA and a barge-sized raft of other right wing legislation and executive orders (such as Clinton's exemption of Special Forces regarding posse comitatus) disguised as pragmatic, Dutch Uncle post-liberalism (some would say neoliberalism), the massive surplus we never got the chance to enjoy once Bush sleazed into the Oval Office was the only saving grace of what was one of the most ruinous presidencies in US history.
Which we post-liberals conveniently forgot when a real fuckup co-opted the Presidency and cost us a World Trade Center, a good chunk of the Pentagon and a major American city. And trillions in Treasure through bailouts, wars and borrowing on a giant magic credit card that still has yet to be paid off.
Fortunately, some of us still keep our perspective and refuse to surrender the true view no matter how many times Overton's Window shifts to the right.
And Hillary's last campaign 7-8 years ago proved she was in more pockets than lint. Despite having his campaign infested with lobbyists, even John McCain's machine couldn't compare to the sheer number of denizens of K Street that had flocked to Hillary's campaign for some good potentially lucrative reasons. And, recognizing that Mrs. Clinton is on their side on a lot of issues, the GOP refuses to take the real pot shots they could be taking and instead have only emails, foreign cash and Benghazi to pule about. And, as we've seen these past few months, they're all wet logs as much as Whitewater was.
But we need more than a used and comfortable brand name to wrest this country back from corporations, evangelicals and other sundry and assorted right wing nut jobs that had been handed keys to the Capitol courtesy of another rancid brand name.
And the old show business adage of, "Give the people what they want and they'll come out for it" works exactly the same way in politics. When Hillary seizes on headlines such as the UCC campus shooting and regurgitates a populist position because she knows limousine liberals will lap it up, the rest of us can see the cynical triangulation.
When Bernie Sanders says the right thing, those of us blessed with memories better than a goldfish know he's speaking from the heart and has been for the last four plus decades.