Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Questioning Hillary and Bill? Please - Don't Ask, Don't Tell!

Yahoo! News and AFP report:

Former US President Bill Clinton blasted US foreign policy adopted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, arguing the United States cannot kill, jail or occupy all of its adversaries.

"Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us," said Clinton, who spoke at a seminar of governance organized by Conference Board.

"And if they don't, they can go straight to hell." ...

"We can't run," Clinton pointed out. "If you got an interdependent world, and you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your adversaries, sooner or later you have to make a deal."

He said he believed Washington overreacted to German and French opposition to US plans for military action against Iraq and suggested that the current administration had trouble juggling foreign and domestic issues.

"Since September 11, it looks like we can't hold two guns at the same time," Clinton said. "If you fight terrorism, you can't make America a better place to be."

Howard Kurtz wonders what's going on:

You have to wonder about [Mr. Clinton's] timing. ... After all, Clinton, despite some occasional potshots, supported Bush's tough stance against Saddam. ... [T]he timing of his latest blast suggests that he just can't stand being off the stage for long. ... Shouldn't the former commander-in-chief be congratulating America's soldiers? Maybe Clinton is just trying to boost interest in his "60 Minutes" debates with Bob Dole.

But Mr. Clinton's likely motivations don't seem obscure. Like most things he does and says now they should be viewed through the prism of his ongoing obligation to enhance Hillary Clinton's political standing and his own need to defend his presidential "legacy." With respect to Mr. Clinton's own "legacy," his statements probably reflect his resentment of the Iraq victory being such a clear refutation (at least for the moment) of the policies of his own administration. He has been openly accused of policies that allowed the disasters of September 11 to occur, of running down the American military and of failing to address effectively international terrorism and troublespots - including Iraq. Naturally it bothers him that his successor is benefitting for the moment from a refutation of so much of what Mr. Clinton is associated. Of course his statements are inconsistent with many of his past acts and prior nominal support of President Bush. Mr. Clinton is often inconsistent, feckless and striving to be on both sides of an issue. Voters and the media have rewarded him by repeatedly being stupid enough to allow him to win elections with his approach. So what else is new?

Much of Senator Clinton's New York political base is up in arms over her defense of President Bush's handling of Iraq, as indicated in her recent confrontation with an anti-war group:

"I admire your willingness to speak out on behalf of women and children in Iraq," [Senator Clinton] said. "The only way to change this is for Saddam Hussein to disarm, and I don't think he will. We are in a very difficult position right now. I'd love to agree with you, but I can't." But when one of the protest leaders, Jodie Evans of Venice, Calif., tore off her full-length pink slip and presented it to Mrs. Clinton, the senator walked out. "I am the senator from New York," she said, "and I will not put people's security at risk."

Sure Bill Clinton is advocating policies here that Senator Clinton would "love to agree with" but can't, because she is the senator from New York and will not put people's security at risk. And it is hard to believe that Bill Clinton has uttered such remarks without coordination with his wife. As far as Senator Clinton is concerned, the whole thing seems to be a banal, characteristically Clintonian (of either sex) device for being on both sides of the issue: Bill Clinton's views are still associated with Senator Clinton, so she can expect to be able to exploit them with the appropriate interest group, even as she nominally backs President Bush's policies with other interest groups - even though no intelligent person could believe she actually, personally agrees with Mr. Bush's policies. Are New Yorkers stupid enough to fall for this kind of thing again ... and again ... and again?

There is a mild perplexity here: Why has neither Clinton been questioned about any of this by the media? After all, the apparently nearly-pathological bad liar John Kerry is being accused of being "Clintonian" by trying to be on both sides of the Iraq issue. Shouldn't both Clintons be examined and questioned about the same tendency on the same issue at the same time? But the question is hardly out before the answers are apparent: the media have almost never adequately questioned the Clintons and, if the questions were asked, straight answers would not be returned. So the media seems to say: why bother? Of course that's an abdication of what the news media say they do and care about. What else is new?

Comments: Post a Comment