Thursday, February 27, 2014

A brief Clintonian note

Sorry I was called away; you should see a meaty post here later today (I hope). In the meantime, I direct your attention to this article by Brent Budowski on Bill Clinton, who is leading the Democratic charge in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Yes, it's a partisan puff-piece, one which never mentions the discomforting truth that Clinton may campaign in areas where the far-less popular Obama is unwelcome. But consider these words about our current political state:
Many Americans warmly smiled when former first lady Barbara Bush said “I love Bill Clinton.” The respect and affection between former presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush is genuine and very American. It hearkens back to an Americanism dating back to the early republic of Jefferson and Adams, which voters would greatly value today, when political opponents collaborated with mutual respect to advance national interests.

The mudslinging attack by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) against Clinton is a textbook case of why Kamikaze Republicans lost national elections in 2006, 2008 and 2012. Voters are disgusted by this lowball brand of GOP politics, practiced by politicians who look mean, shallow and small against a former president who is widely liked, admired and respected.

Ditto for Republicans addicted to what I recently called their “Benghazi disease,” which has left former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton towering above potential Republican opponents in polling for the 2016 presidential race.
My question is this: Has the low road, as defined here, truly failed? I would argue that the Republicans have been practicing scurrilous politics since well before Bill Clinton became president, and that the strategy of sleaze has often prevailed.

Today, Benghazism hasn't gained much traction for the GOP, and Rand Paul's (and Mitt Romney's) attempt to hoist the flag of Monica's blue dress did not make the party seem more attractive. Such tactics may inflame the troops, but will not increase their numbers.

Nevertheless, the "mean, shallow and small" approach must work -- otherwise, our default economic mind-set would be something other than neo-liberalism and our default foreign policy approach would be something other than neo-conservativism.

Yes, Democrats did win in 2006, 2008 and 2012. Moreover, I would argue that Democrat presidential candidates really won the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. But what about traditionally Democratic ideas?

Those have lost.

Budowski may have forgotten what happened in 1994, but I never will. That was the year when Republicans learned the true value of paranoia and rage. Consider this account by a Salon writer of a sad case of Fox News addiction:
My father sincerely believes that science is a political plot, Christians are America’s most persecuted minority and Barack Obama is a full-blown communist. He supports the use of force without question, as long as it’s aimed at foreigners. He thinks liberals are all stupid, ignorant fucks who hate America.

I don’t recall my father being so hostile when I was growing up. He was conservative, to be sure, but conventionally and thoughtfully so. He is a kind and generous man and a good father, but over the past five or 10 years, he’s become so conservative that I can’t even find a label for it.

What has changed? He consumes a daily diet of nothing except Fox News. He has for a decade or more.
Democrats have become accommodating squishy-conservatives while Republicans have had their brains transformed into vats of flaming bile. When an allegedly "Democratic" president spends eight full years eschewing Keynesianism while failing to heal the economy (and that's the Barack Obama story in nutshell), the public may see no alternative but to back the candidate favored by an army of bile-brains.

I share Budowski's admiration of Bill Clinton, but I cannot share Budowski's optimistic view of the American public.


Anonymous said...

I know terms like mind control and brainwashing carry connotations of conspiracy theory, but when I step back and look at the mass media in this country, those are really the only terms I can think of to explain the stranglehold they have over the population. Until we can engage Americans in an honest, comprehensive debate of topics on their merit as opposed to continuing to appeal to people's base instincts, we'll never fix what's wrong in this country, or the planet for that matter.

In other words, we're properly fucked.

jo6pac said...

Anon at 9:45AM

No it's not a conspiracy it's for real.

Tell the lie over and over it becomes the truth.

Joseph Goebbels would be proud of Amerikas govt.

CBarr said...

And this element who truly now exist in an alternate reality, have stockpiled weapons and ammunition. Rwanda comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Joseph, how can you be admiring of Bill Clinton after his passive complicity in the stolen election of 2004? The winter following that he was palling around with Poppy Bush as if nothing were wrong--when he should have been leading the charge to put W in jail.

joseph said...

If we played a game where someone picks and number between 1 and 10 and then we had to see who came the closest, if you picked 9, I would choose 8. That is what is going on with the Democrats, Republicans are so far over the edge that Democrats want to be just a little closer to the middle so they can win. If Republicans choose 9, Democrats think they would be crazy to pick 2.

Anonymous said...

the olds
are living longer and FOX knows this and caters to their fears
was visting aunt myrtle she has FAUX news on constant
tried changing the channel but she just switch it back.

Anonymous said...

@CBarr - The movie Hotel Rwanda is my go-to reference when I'm talking about the damaging effects of an out of control media apparatus, and I think the comparison between the far-right media elements in this country and the role played in the Rwandan genocide can't be overlooked.

I'd like to add that I'm no robot, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what the twisted letters are in the confirmation box when I'm trying to leave comments here.

Anonymous said...

joseph 2:43 By that logic, if the Republicans were all jumping off a cliff, you'd want 98% of Democrats to jump off the cliff. If the Republicans wanted wars with 7 countries, the Democrats should want war with 6 countries; if the Repubpicans wanted to cut education budgets by 99%, the Democrats should want to cut the budgets by 98%.

You wouldn't be getting the Beltway virus, would you?

joseph said...


I'm explaining, not endorsing.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Bush's love for Bill Clinton, and the respect and affection between former presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush predates their leaving office.

Before Bill Clinton was president, and even before H.W. Bush was president, H.W. Bush was Reagan's Vice President. While serving as VP, H.W. Bush was tapped by DCIA Casey to run the Iran-Contra "Enterprise".

The "Enterprise" needed a base of operations within flying distance of Nicaragua, and Bush needed assets in place to provide political cover for the operation. Cargo plane equipped with extra fuel tanks could reach Nicaragua from Texas and Louisiana, but Bush found the political assets he needed in place, in Arkansas.

Paul Rise said...

Joseph 1994 is explained in one word - Waco. No one talks about this, but I was working with elected officials in Texas at the time - I watched Ann Richards crash and burn over Waco and Waco-rage; that was the birth of the modern rightwing fringe.

The phenomenon has never been fully acknowledged in mainstream circles, but anyone who was there on the ground in 1994 knows and remembers.

Waco was a giant turd in the punchbowl of American politics - it set up GW Bush and worse over the next 20+ years. I don't blame Clinton - there's blame to go around and he deserves some - but you gotta understand Mount Carmel to understand everything after . . .

Susan said...

I really have suffered complete total Clinton burnout, once called "Clinton fatigue" by the media. You know, I supported Bill Clinton when he was going through all of that crap with the far right during the impeachment/coup attempt mess, but now I just wish he would go away and retire from public life. Hillary Clinton also needs to retire from public life. Her husband is just too high maintenance, too needy, and feels he has to be "out there in public" all the time. She needs to put him on a tight leash from now on and keep him out of the public eye. I frankly am sick and tired of neoliberals in both political parties spouting off b.s. about how this is a "global economy" and "globalism" this and "globalism" that. It's just code for a "race to the bottom." "Globalism" or neoliberalism or libertarianism is the ruination of the country, of the world, and I can't stand to hear one more word from people who would sell the Democratic Party down the river to help the financial elites and multinationals.

Bill Clinton has a LOT to answer for. He needs to apologize for his ruinous welfare "reform," his sellout on trade agreements, and his refusal to veto Glass-Steagall repeal (the Gramm bill, I believe it was with the repeal within it). Without an apology to the American people for these travesties, I don't want to hear anymore from him or from Hillary.

prowlerzee said...

Some intriguing tidbits in these comments about Waco and the Iran-Contra Enterprise's connection to Arkansas.

I have no doubt that Fox News poisons minds...the sickest thing, tho, is not how the Dems are 8 to Rethugs' 9 but how the "progressive" news stations think the answer to Fox is to become them. When I first saw Rachel Maddow's show that everyone was raving about I was sickened by her smarmy smug delivery of the same but flipside partisan crap.

If we don't get a news station that discusses topics, subjects and laws in terms of their import and impact on Americans, as opposed to their impact on the popularity of this or that personality or figurehead, we're doomed. It's all celebrity approach and sports-team approach and outrage porn approach, all the time.

What anon 9:54 said.

Brent Budowski? Pass. Brent was marshmallow flavored vodka before there was marshmallow-flavored vodka.