|Man Without Qualities|
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Bill Clinton assumed the Presidency in 1993 having run and won on a vague centrist-sounding Democratic Leadership Council platform bereft of significant clear messages other than that he did not like the job George H.W. Bush had done. Once in office Mr. Clinton made a dramatic shift to the left that accommodated Washington liberals but was inconsistent with whatever was "clear" in his faux-centrist campaign. By 1996 the economy was doing well and Mr. Clinton ran and won on that prosperity alone. His second campaign was famous for "miniaturizing" the Presidency with proposals like a "national 911 telephone system" and was bereft of whatever modest clarity his first campaign had possessed.
Yet today Mr. Clinton has no hesitation in advising surviving Democrats that they "need a clear national message." Of course, Mr. Clinton never had a "clear message" designed to last past his then-current campaign or other expediency - like his "Bridge to the Future" that Doonesbury noted was probably already back in the box by sunset on election day.
But Mr. Clinton has never been consistently a "do as I say, not as I do" operator - or a consistent operator of any sort. His new advice to the current President is honest, heartfelt and drawn from Mr. Clinton's own long and deep experience in the highest office of the land:
"This election presents a great opportunity for President Bush and a great opportunity for Democrats, and the two are not necessarily in conflict."
What Mr. Clinton says here is so true, and so born out by his own history. In 1993 Mr. Clinton inherited a Congress and Demoratic Party then in possession of broad and deep hegemonies. What an opportunity for Mr. Clinton this was! Like an alcoholic scion of a vast family fortune, he immediately proceeded to dissipate that basis of those Democratic hegemonies with his massive tax increases, loony health care reform disaster and much else - including that alarming shift to the left and towards the Beltwayers noted above. What opportunities for Republicans he created! By 1994 the voters expressed that alarm by stripping Democrats in Congress of the House. Mr. Clinton joined with Republicans to pass NAFTA and Welfare Reform, two measures that struck deeply at the Democratic Congressional hegemonies - and whose long term effects probably contributed significantly to Republican gains in 2004. By 1996 Mr. Clinton was running for a second term on the concept of "triangularization" - an obscurationist term for running as a Democrat expressly against the Democratic Party in Congress. Yes, Mr. Clinton also ran in 1996 against the Republicans in Congress, but every Democrat does. It was Mr. Clinton's Dick-Morris-advised 1996 hostility to Congressional Democrats that represented the special opportunity in that race.
Yes, Mr. Clinton's is urging his successor, Mr. Bush, to adopt the Clintonian view of a President's time in the White House as a series of great personal political, financial and sexual opportunities, and the Clintonian perspective of never hesitating to exploit any of those opportunities. Mr. Clinton was not stingy with the Republicans where it aided his personal aspirations - and he is urging the same approach on Mr. Bush. Indeed, as outlined above (and there is so much more!) Mr. Clinton created a series of great opportunities for Republicans, at first in Congress and ultimately in the form of Mr. Bush's ability to snatch the Presidency itself from Al Gore, who should have won in a walk as Mr. Clinton's Vice President.
"This election presents a great opportunity for President Bush and a great opportunity for Democrats, and the two are not necessarily in conflict." Yes, what Mr. Clinton says here is so true, and so born out by his own history.
Comments: Post a Comment