Re: The Ancient Nineties

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Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity, if you recall. Most prescient fake news article ever.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:30 PM
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Yeah, that was awesome. Tied with Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades for prescience.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:35 PM
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Depends on whether one thinks Big Bad Bill was responsible, or just present, for the prosperity of the '90s.

Some people who criticize his presidency may be alluding to the expenditure of political capital and personal talent and attention on saving his own skin (and, by extension, his wife's political career), all of which would have been better spent softening the blow of '90s prosperity on those who didn't rake in the big bucks at the time and/or fighting the terrorists that Clinton tends to congratulate himself for noticing.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:36 PM
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Depends on whether one thinks Big Bad Bill was responsible, or just present, for the prosperity of the '90s.

That, and the apparent disconnect between people who say that Clinton wasn't very good for liberal ideas (or cynically, that Clinton was a good Republican president), and those who think that `but the economy was good' is an answer to that claim.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:39 PM
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2: I actually bought those ridiculously overpriced razors for CA solely because of that article. I was so excited and ran into the house shouting, "Fuck it! We're going with five!"
My dour and frugal helpmeet was less amused.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:46 PM
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than Obamaniacs concede

Be Careful.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:58 PM
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Yeah, "competent & pretty equitable economic policy, & people really were better off" is nonresponsive to the main critiques.

This is misleading:
"behind Clinton's moderate-seeming but mostly inconsequential ideas in 1996, like the V-chip (to screen out television violence) and school uniforms."

People aren't bitter about the V-chip or school uniforms. Their bitter about things like DOMA, the 1996 immigration & habeas-limiting bills, the drug/crime policies, Ricky Ray Rector, the welfare reform bill, favoring deficit reduction over liberal programs--some of these are niche issues, but a lot of liberal activists are nursing one grudge or another. And above all, they're bitter about the assumptions about the U.S. electorate that all of these policies were based on, and the way those assumptions have led to utter disaster since September 11, 2001--above all, Iraq. It's not an argument that things didn't get a bit better overall in the 1990s; it's a comparison between the scale of the gains under 8 years of Clinton and the losses under 8 years of Bush.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 3:58 PM
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Depends on whether one thinks Big Bad Bill was responsible, or just present, for the prosperity of the '90s.

That, and the extent to which you blame him for Republicans taking over congress in 1994, Bush winning in 2000, etc.

Not saying I do, just that many do.


Posted by: PeaDub | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:00 PM
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5 is excellent.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:01 PM
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7: Clipper Chip! Clipper Chip! I guess DMCA was Bush 1, but damn if they did anything to make it better.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:03 PM
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Ricky Ray Rector

I am probably revealing my shallowness on the death penalty issue here but I was surprised to discover that Rector was retarded because of the self-inflicted gunshot to the head after he murdered two people.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:03 PM
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But yes, I had a great time in the 90s. The money and the drugs were wonderful.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:04 PM
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wait, is Bill running for President again ?


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:04 PM
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5, 9: But after the last razor discussion I went out and bought some of the damn things too, and they're lasting so much longer than the Mach 3s I was using before that I'm coming out way ahead on cost/shave.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:06 PM
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bitter about things like DOMA, the 1996 immigration & habeas-limiting bills, the drug/crime policies, Ricky Ray Rector, the welfare reform bill, favoring deficit reduction over liberal programs

A couple of those things Greenberg addresses: he says welfare reform helped the poor and that deficit reduction did, too. Contestable claims, obviously. As for Rector, Barbar's point was important to me when I learned it as well; it mitigates the badness of his execution quite a bit, in my book.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:07 PM
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But yes, I had a great time in the 90s. The money and the drugs were wonderful.

You know, politicians campaign on the promise of prosperity all the time, but you never see them promising easy access to drugs. Sex either. Strange. You'd think it'd sell.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:07 PM
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Sex either. Strange. You'd think it'd sell.

A chicken in every potbed?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:09 PM
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13: Was George H.W. Bush running again in 2000? Was the Duke of Wellington running as a Republican in 2004? Because it sure seemed like it at the time.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:09 PM
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From my right-of-center perch, the Clinton years weren't too bad. His foreign policy was mostly aimless, but he did, finally, do the right thing (from my perspective) on the Balkans. And while he did nothing about Rwanda, it's not like anyone or any other nation was going to do anything either. Domestically: hard for a right-winger to complain. He lucked out on the economy, but ran basically unobjectionable-to-positive policies. Increasing the EITC is a plus. NAFTA's a plus. Welfare reform a plus. Conservatives won't like him on judges but jeez, if one must have the choose-your-own adventure school of constitutional interpretation, it's hard to beat Bryer and Ginsberg for smarts and decency.

From a left perspective, however, Clinton looks a lot worse. House and Senate dems got creamed on his watch, and the left will (usually) flip the sign on welfare reform and NAFTA. Also, there's doubtless bitterness about getting hosed so thoroughly on health care. If you're a left person who likes Al Gore, there's another reason to dislike Clinton.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:09 PM
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Come on, people, we've got a nice politics thread going here. Don't threadjack it into another one of those difficult and contentious shaving threads. It'll only lead to hurt feelings.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:10 PM
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Clinton was a good Republican president

Yeah, pretty much.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:11 PM
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Some form of welfare reform could've been good policy. In general, people I trust on welfare policy say: this wasn't. It wasn't as bad as some feared, & it opened the way for less unpopular & more effective anti-poverty programs--but Clinton didn't pass them, nor did Bush.

On Rector: my primary objection is to the execution-as-campaign-photo-op thing. The mental retardation doesn't help any, of course. I agree that it's worse if you were incompetent at the time of the crime than only during the execution, but to me it's still bad: the only thing that makes capital punishment seem less obviously cruel & wrong than torture or rape is that it incapacitates as well as inflicting suffering. And, Rector was already incapacitated. But as I said, it's primarily the photo op thing. It got worse in 2004 when Nick Kristof used it as an example of how the Democrats should show the electorate they had strong moral values.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:12 PM
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the choose-your-own adventure school of constitutional interpretation

I hope you enjoyed that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:12 PM
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I did! What, only you can troll now?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:13 PM
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19: Exactly. Without arguing who is right about what policy at all, it's very easy to see how from a left perspective Clinton looks pretty bad. Previous joking aside, he actually does look pretty close to what someone from the left would like to see in a right-wing president --- and maybe could actually expect as a best-case (from their perspective), excepting a few party-line issues.

As far as Rwanda goes, though, most right-of-center folks I talked to at the time weren't interested in US intervention one bit, so I'd chalk that one up more positively from the right perspective.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:15 PM
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So the Fusion really is that much better? Why the fuck didn't Gillette send me one?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:16 PM
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On Rector: my primary objection is to the execution-as-campaign-photo-op thing.

My primary reaction, too, but I suppose diehard Clintonistas would accuse me of moral vanity. Of course, accusations of moral vanity from Clintonistas are pretty funny.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:16 PM
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22 was me.

Bush also did the "solemnly preside over an execution during the primaries" thing. Not that their records on execution are really comparable, but I don't care for it. And your willingness to sacrifice principles on the altar of being tough on crime is an excellent predictor of willingess to sacrifice principles on the altar of being tough on terror.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:17 PM
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Shouldn't someone be chiming in about now to condemn Bill Clinton and the corrupt American politics from which he rose (Viva Zapata!) or to condemn those of us who don't think he was Christ's better-groomed nephew as thoughtless hippies or heartless industrialists?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:24 PM
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I find liberal critiques of Clinton (or conservative praise like baa's) to often lack appropriate context - it's as though the Republican Party didn't exist, or as though Clinton was president in a time of liberal ideological ascendancy.

And I have to disagree with the folks who say that the '90s could have been a time of liberal ascendancy, but for the Clintons.

They got dealt a tough hand, got some strong liberal initiatives smacked down, kept the presidency out of Republican hands for 8 years, and - contra baa - positioned Al Gore unusually well to make it 8 more years.

Political strategists who complain that the loss of Congress was Clinton's fault fail to identify what Clinton should have done to keep this from happening. We're in a democracy. If the public is in an ugly mood, things get ugly.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:30 PM
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Again, the complaint is about the Democrats' pervading assumption that:
1) The American people are in an ugly mood & will be for the indefinite future
2) There's nothing we can do about it, we better just deport the immigrants/execute the criminals (or lock them up & throw away the key)/vote for the war/look the other way about torture/screw the poor.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:35 PM
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positioned Al Gore unusually well to make it 8 more years.

The economy was a rocket ship, sure. I dispute that presidents ever deserve much or blame on that score. Gore, fair enough, was a bad campaigner; but I suspect his election would have been a lay-up without the whole having sex with the intern and lying about it to the nation thing. That's just an unforced error. Gore is and was right to be irked.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:37 PM
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And I have to disagree with the folks who say that the '90s could have been a time of liberal ascendancy, but for the Clintons.

was anybody saying that? All I've heard much of anywhere are people saying don't look at the Clinton years with rose colored glasses, just because Bush II has been a disaster.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:37 PM
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without the whole having sex with the intern and lying about it to the nation thing. That's just an unforced error.

Getting deposed about it was an 'unforced' error? Man, you've got a pretty broad concept of spontaneous screwups.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:38 PM
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Gore, fair enough, was a bad campaigner; but I suspect his election would have been a lay-up without the whole having sex with the intern and lying about it to the nation thing media.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:40 PM
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Gore, fair enough, was a bad campaigner; but he won anyway.

Fixed.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:42 PM
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and yeah, if you're mad at Kerry for saying politically inept things & not responding to the Swiftboaters effectively--you don't have to give a damn about Clinton's cheating as such for the Lewinsky thing to piss you off as a gross political error. The GOP's reaction was gross, but also, by that point, totally foreseeable. It was an unforced error, & it was politically a lot more damaging than doing the right thing on some liberal issues would've been.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:42 PM
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Clinton doing things about which he would later want to lie under oath would be the unforced error, not the revelation of those things.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:42 PM
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I guess DMCA was Bush 1

Nope, that was Clinton, too. 1998.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:47 PM
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You still can't call it an "unforced" error. Screwing around is a class of personal misconduct wildly common in Washington, and generally without political penalty. It had a penalty in Clinton's case, but only because he was being pursued by lunatic bloodhounds. You can say (quite legitimately) that he should have been more careful than most, and purer than the driven snow, because he knew he was being held to higher standards by people baying for his blood, but that still doesn't make cheating on his wife something that would have conventionally been expected to be a political problem. An error? Sure. But calling it an 'unforced' error is ridiculous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:47 PM
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IIRC one of Machiavelli's first pieces of advice to the Prince is to keep it in his pants. The goal is to be feared, not hated. Someone who hates you will sacrifice his own interests to hurt you, and thus can't be controlled. And nothing makes people hate you more than sexual impropriety.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:51 PM
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"but that still doesn't make cheating on his wife something that would have conventionally been expected to be a political problem"

Gennifer Flowers was a political problem in 1992. The viciousness about Vince Foster was in full swing by 1993-1994. Ken Starr was appointed in 1994. The Lewinsky relationship begin in, I think, late 1995 & continued through 1996. It was totally foreseeable that this would be a political problem.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:52 PM
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Gore, fair enough, was a bad campaigner; but I suspect his election would have been a lay-up without the whole having sex with the intern and lying about it to the nation thing.

And yet, Bill's own popularity upon his departure from office was huge (if a bit tarnished shortly thereafter by coverage of the Marc Rich pardon).

How is it that Bill failed to kill of his own reputation, but irretrievably damaged Al's ?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:52 PM
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I was fine with the Clinton 90s. Hell, I loved 'em. I think he did a lot of necessary things for the Democratic Party. But that was then, this is now, and he got paid. And he and his didn't perform nearly as well when they were the most powerful people/machine in opposition over the last seven years.

the choose-your-own adventure school of constitutional interpretation

As opposed to the I-hear-dead-people school.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:52 PM
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Yeah, I'm still going to say that there's a huge difference between "unforced" and "forseeable".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:54 PM
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I've been reading the Obamaniacs critique -- such as it is, and it's very existence has been overblown, in my view -- of Clinton as centering on his impact on the party as much as on the country. The claim, it seems to me, has been that he didn't have downticket coattails and then left the party in worse not better shape than when he entered the scene. In short, that Bill Clinton was more about himself and his own appetites and ambitions than about something bigger than that.

All of that said, I think he well might have been one of our five best presidents, which is a bar so very low that, after the top three guys at least, it's not that hard to clear.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:56 PM
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And if you can't tell, I'm having one of those days where coherent sentence structure is elusive.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:58 PM
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Come on, LB. An intern his daughter's age, in the White House? That's not just an affair, that's suicidally stupid. Not accepting blow jobs from the interns is or damn well ought to be a generally-understood job requirement for any executive position.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 4:59 PM
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I think he well might have been one of our five best presidents

That seems high, somehow. I must admit to being surprised.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:00 PM
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37: Katherine, personally, I'm not mad at Kerry. He won three debates so handily that even the media mostly had to admit it, and made no gaffes of any substance. (Guess what: Bush was against it before he was for it, too.) If you're running in politcal year where the primary rap on you comes from people mocking your genuine war heroism - by wearing purple band-aids for Chrissake - well, that's just the kind of year it is.

And I'm not still not getting the actual political damage from Lewinsky and impeachment. Say what you will about Bill's morals and ethics - or even about the legality of his conduct - but impeachment was a political problem for the Republicans, not the Democrats.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:01 PM
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I'm with LB on the Lewinsky thing, too.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:01 PM
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Not accepting blow jobs from the interns is or damn well ought to be a generally-understood job requirement for any executive position.

Sure, we all agree on this, but wait until Bush's NLRB classifies 80% of American workers as being in an "executive position". When will it stop?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:03 PM
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LB--well, I guess it's semantic.

Anyway, this has limited relevance, because I have absolute confidence that Hillary Clinton will not screw around with any interns, she is generally an incredibly disciplined political. And if her husband generates scandals again I assume they'll be of the sketchy-friends-from-Kazakhstan variety, & my main issue with Clintonism has nothing to do with any of that stuff.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:03 PM
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All of that said, I think he well might have been one of our five best presidents

Better than Chester Arthur, or not?


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:03 PM
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48: Come on yourself. She was over twentyone. Do we need to make a list of politicians who've had affairs with women young enough to be their daughters? Personally unseemly, sure. But it turning into a huge political thing was Clinton Rules, not the ordinary course of business.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:04 PM
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49: Yeah, me too. But I've done the math. And he's always flirting with the top five. Maybe six or seven. It depends on my mood and what matters to me in a given day.

Also, re. 46, shorter Ari: I think the Greenberg piece is built on a false premise. Which doesn't mean that the discussion of Clinton is wrong or silly. But I hate Jews.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:05 PM
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48: Not that it matters much, but Monica is a fare whack older than Chelsea, 7 years older. Monica was, I think, 23 when the affair started, and 25 by the time we all heard about it in January 1998. I remember that because it was the only thing on the news on my birthday.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:07 PM
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Not accepting blow jobs from the interns is or damn well ought to be a generally-understood job requirement for any executive position.

Some people just hate capitalism.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:08 PM
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"And I'm not still not getting the actual political damage from Lewinsky and impeachment. Say what you will about Bill's morals and ethics - or even about the legality of his conduct - but impeachment was a political problem for the Republicans, not the Democrats."

If you view the 1998 elections as totally dispositive, yes. Of course, if we're going to measure Clinton's & GOP successes by how many Democrats there were in Congress...I think it lessened the likelihood of getting decent policies enacted & probably hurt Gore too (as far as whether other things hurt him more--sure, I'm not one to pretend that the 2000 election was monocausal, and have no patience with anyone who argues that it was. Yes, Gore was a bad campaigner AND the Lewinsky thing hurt him AND the media was awful AND Nader AND the butterfly ballot AND the Supreme Court.)

I don't think Clinton is politically unskilled, but I do think his political skills & successes are grossly overrated.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:08 PM
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58: And honestly, a consensual adulterous affair that's not notorious around the workplace (which Clinton/Lewinsky wasn't. Whatserface knew, but it wasn't common gossip.) I don't think that would get people in trouble a lot of places.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:16 PM
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55/58 are exactly correct.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:18 PM
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55: I'm not arguing the morality of it or justifying what the Republicans did. My point is just that it was an incredibly stupid and undisciplined thing to do. That it became the train wreck it did was Clinton rules, but it was an obvious and unnecessary risk under any set of rules. Politicians have historically been able to get away with a certain amount of discreet screwing around, but it does have to be discreet, and the risks were growing even before Clinton came to down (e.g. Gary Hart). It wasn't a crime, but it was a hell of a blunder.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:18 PM
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Also, LB, part of it is Clinton & part of it is the general erosion of the "We don't publish that sort of trash" norm in journalism when it comes to politicians' men's sex scandals.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:18 PM
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60: Jack Welch famously got caught sexing someone in the parking lot early in his career. He survived it, and now it's one of the "rascaly dog" stories.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:19 PM
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uh, "men's" is in there by mistake.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:19 PM
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it does have to be discreet

Like, no way of establishing it publicly other than by putting your inamorata under oath and threatening her with prison? It wasn't openly notorious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:19 PM
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Of course, GHWB had a mistress for years.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:21 PM
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Politicians have historically been able to get away with a certain amount of discreet screwing around, but it does have to be discreet, and the risks were growing even before Clinton came to down (e.g. Gary Hart). It wasn't a crime, but it was a hell of a blunder.

I think the problem is that the rules were sort of changing, and Clinton (a bit like Hart) got caught in an uncertain regime.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:21 PM
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62 before 60. And re 60, note that what caused it to become common gossip was that the lady in question cried on the shoulder of someone she shouldn't have, which isn't exactly an unforeseeable risk in these things.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:21 PM
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An intern his daughter's age, in the White House? That's not just an affair, that's suicidally stupid

That's my point. Obviously, there was a VRWC out to destroy Clinton. But he also made their job easy -- that's what was unforced. We're really defining deviancy down if Gore can't be pissed about that.

As opposed to the I-hear-dead-people school

I accept that. I also think I win the battle of polemical caricature.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:22 PM
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69 also to 66.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:23 PM
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Clinton (a bit like Hart) got caught in an uncertain regime.

Of compare Gingrich, during the same period.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:23 PM
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72: Bingo. Politicians fucking around in the 90s wasn't news. Clinton fucking around was news.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:26 PM
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68: You think it was uncertain? He knew that the VRWC was out to get him. And yet, he couldn't resist his appetites. In short, I think viewing the Clinton years as a liminal period in the history of Oval Office sexual impropriety misses the point: it was about Bill, about a hated Democrat, about the nature of movement conservatism. I don't know if that lets Bill off the hook or puts him more fully on it. I think the latter.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:26 PM
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67: He certainly did. Proper WASPs, you see, marry one type of horsey girl and fuck another. This is standard procedure (see FDR). Clinton's sexual proclivities were seen as intolerable, because he is poor white trash, and they, as we all know, have dangerous, destabilizing appetites, much like black folks. It isn't to be tolerated.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:26 PM
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Totally pwned by 70.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:27 PM
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Intern! 22 years old! White house! Oval office! Post Gennifer Flowers! It was *stunningly* undisciplined.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:27 PM
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73: Didn't Gingrich lose the speakership when that came out? You could argue that that wouldn't have happened if not for the inconsistent-with-baying-for-Clinton's-blood problem, but it was news.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:28 PM
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75 is correct but does not explain why a guy who's capable of winning the Presidency isn't capable of keeping his pants on in that sort of environment.

73: Hart's Presidential campaign took a big hit and Gingrich gave up the Speakership.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:29 PM
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77: Right. It's not about the President having a consensual affair. It's not about it being conspicuous or notorious (again, they needed legal process to drag it out into the open). It's that the way he did it was trashy.

Clinton Rules.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:29 PM
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And yet, he couldn't resist his appetites.

Next, you'll claim that teh gay can be cured. Why must the straight white male alone labor under a sexually repressive regime?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:30 PM
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Oh, I'm wrong about Gingrich, I was confusing him w/ Livingston, or whatever that guy's name was.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:30 PM
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Again, it's not about how trashy or sordid it was (quite, and very). It's about how it reflects on his judgment. Poorly is the answer. Surely you must agree on that much?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:31 PM
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I know going into the sordid details of the scandal plays into conservatives' hands, but Wikipedia just reminded me that Clinton allegedly inserted a cigar tube into her vagina. The fuck? Are there any classy sex scandals?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:32 PM
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LB, we're mostly having two different arguments here, but it didn't take legal process to drag it out into the open. Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg took care of that. It took legal process to prove it, but it would have been a scandal even without Kenneth Starr's contributions.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:33 PM
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86

It's about how it reflects on his judgment.

He thought cheating in the WH was a bit like drinking underage at college: wrong, but give me a break. And that had pretty much been the history of DC, as I understand it. I don't think you can blame his judgment in this case.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:34 PM
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Least relevant unfogged debate ever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:34 PM
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Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg took care of that. It took legal process to prove it, but it would have been a scandal even without Kenneth Starr's contributions.

Nonsense. Not one with any impact.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:35 PM
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And yeah to 86.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:35 PM
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84: There's a reason people compare the Starr report to a trashy romance novel, or pr0n.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:35 PM
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Are there any classy sex scandals?

What do you have in mind?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:35 PM
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This is terrible, I don't have a strong opinion either way.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:35 PM
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92: Just wait for B to weigh in.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:36 PM
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88: OK, we're into agree to disagree territory on that.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:38 PM
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I always thought his error in judgment came in his choice of partner. Not because omg she was so young!, but rather because the 22-year-old intern is just bound to tell someone she oughtn't. Sharon Stone, par exemple, would have kept that shit secret and likely been more fun.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:40 PM
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Think about how much impact the other 'scandals' from while he was in office had -- whatserface, Katherine Willey or something? Minimal. You think someone saying "He had a consensual affair with Monica, who denies it" would have had an impact?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:41 PM
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96 to 94.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:41 PM
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95 gets it right. Carla Bruni was probably available, too.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:42 PM
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95: Let's not have that argument.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:43 PM
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Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is an internationally respected politician who's campaigning to adoring crowds for his wife, and Monica Lewinsky is the butt of a thousand jokes for the history books and is living overseas in exile.

Couldn't he have just admitted to the affair and let the media have its heavy-breathing way for a couple of weeks? I was talking to my honey about this a little while ago, and he'd totally forgotten about the Gennifer Flowers business.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:47 PM
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1. having sex with a star-struck 22 year old at your place of business isn't the same as a discreet affair. Even someone as unversed as I in the ways of deceit knows that much.

2. And sure, then his enemies used it to try to destroy him.

3. Maybe having sex with a star-stuck 22 year old in the office was common DC practice, in the 1970s. But it was the 90s, and the presidency is different from being congressman from nowheresville. I can say without much fear of contradiction that neither Bush II, not Reagan, nor Bush I, nor Carter, nor Ford, nor Nixon did this. And had they been elected, neither Dukakis nor Mondale, nor Gore would've either. It was rash. As further evidence: it seems like everyone on his staff thought it was rash too.

4. So it's understandable why Gore and his family are irritated.

5. None of the above should be construed as a defense of the VRWC, politically-motivated perjury traps, or the independent counsel.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:48 PM
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Oh come now, SCMT, what's the downside of a "Who should Pre*id*nt Ob*ma have an affair with?" thread?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:48 PM
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101: Bush I had a girlfriend while he was president and everyone in the media knew her name. She wasn't 22, but I have no clue where he fucked her. (Ahem.)

102: Hillary Clinton!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:52 PM
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101: Discretion isn't about the age of your (adult) partner. If they needed to use legal process to make it convincingly public, it was discreet.

And of course everyone called it unacceptably rash once it blew up. That doesn't make them right ex ante.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:54 PM
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but does not explain why a guy who's capable of winning the Presidency isn't capable of keeping his pants on in that sort of environment.

A man known to enjoy sexual affairs has one after becoming the most powerful man in the world? Incredible!


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:55 PM
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I'm confused: is LB defending the "Sure! Have an affair, Mr. President!" position?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:58 PM
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A man known to enjoy sexual affairs has one after becoming the most powerful man in the world?

Oh joy. Executive pussy privilege. I can't say that I want to leap to his defense.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 5:58 PM
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I can say without much fear of contradiction that neither Bush II, not Reagan, nor Bush I, nor Carter, nor Ford, nor Nixon did this.

Failed presidencies, all. I bet LBJ did, and he got a hell of a lot done.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:00 PM
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106: I will!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:00 PM
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Carter had an affair in his heart; arguably that's way worse than having one in the west wing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:01 PM
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40

"... Screwing around is a class of personal misconduct wildly common in Washington, and generally without political penalty. ..."

This is kind of irrelevant. Something doesn't have to inevitably lead to disaster to be unwise, particularly for the President. Are you going to defend using cocaine or drunk driving on this ground? And it's not as if Clinton was the only politician to get in trouble for sexual misconduct. Gary Hart has already been mentioned, other examples are Nelson Rockefeller, Wilbur Mills, Gary Condit and Robert Livingston.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:01 PM
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I really can't say I care much about the Lewinsky business, but isn't part of what made the whole thing so unseemly that he went on for quite some length of time swearing up and down that of course it never happened, that the affair was just some plot conjured up by his enemies, that Lewinsky was some crazy stalker, etc.? If there's any "unforced error" here it seems to be the part where someone thought it was worth covering up a sex scandal as if it were the Watergate break-in, until they actually had the guy lying about the damn thing under oath.


Posted by: earth thing | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:02 PM
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106: No, I'm defending the position that having an affair in office wasn't evidence of unusual indiscretion or unusually poor judgment -- that Clinton's behavior in office was conventional among politicians who suffer no serious political repercussions for it. (See, e.g., GHWB.) Whatever you think of his actions personally, calling the Lewinsky scandal an unforced error rather than the culmination of a six-year witch-hunt that finally found one thing that could be whipped into a scandal is ludicrous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:03 PM
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GHWB had an affair?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:04 PM
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Guess so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:05 PM
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where someone thought it was worth covering up a sex scandal as if it were the Watergate break-in

Funny, GHWB denied it too. No one put him under oath about it, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:08 PM
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111: Did Rockefeller get in trouble? I thought he just dropped dead at his ladyfriend's house and had to be smuggled out?

Hart almost doesn't count for me, since there was the, you know, baiting.

But I am here to stamp my feet again and say that *everyone* who worked in journalism in the early 90s (and perhaps earlier) *knew* the name of GHWB's mistress. Nobody ran a story, because nobody cared.

(Spy ran a story later.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:09 PM
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113: Doesn't Sun Tzu counsel us to know our enemies? "All the other generals presidents marched through that forest had affairs that everyone knew about without getting ambushed impeached" doesn't seem like an excuse the sage would accept.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:09 PM
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116: Yeah, but Bush Sr. didn't start smearing his girlfriend as a stalker, either.


Posted by: earth thing | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:10 PM
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All you Hillary hataz will change your minds once you see her hot new viral video!

(Actually, it's really bad. I mean, Star Wars Holiday Special-level bad.)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:12 PM
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Setting aside the privilege and workplace conduct elements of the Lewinsky thing, a world in which nobody gave a shit about politicians' sex lives would be a better world. But Clinton isn't the only guy who's been tripped up by the breakdown of DC's gentlemen's-club standards of appropriate behavior, and that breakdown isn't exclusively a negative development.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:12 PM
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He never had to -- no one ever bothered him about it. I don't doubt he would have eaten her still-beating heart if it would have saved his job.

(Don't get me wrong; I think the Monica-smearing was beyond sleazy. But you can't say that GHWB was a mensch for not doing it, when it simply never came to that for him.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:12 PM
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122 to 119.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:13 PM
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Wait, we are having a presidential affairs thread and no one is discussing JFK (Jay-ay hey-ey hey Eff Kay)?

Clearly he shows the kind of good judgment oudemia is looking for in 95. Also, I think the kind of good judgment we can see from an Obama presidency.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:14 PM
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124: Everyone gets a pass for Marilyn.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:15 PM
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ok, I just had to make a quick comment because I let class out early. Now I am going home.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:16 PM
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124: No. I come from the blessed commonwealth of "John and Robert Kennedy died for your sins."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:17 PM
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124: Oh, not really. Marilyn Monroe is the famous one, of course. But there were the two secretaries that worked in the White House. They were sort of matchy-matchy and everyone called them Frick and Frack, I believe. The story goes that Jackie was giving some French diplomats a tour of the WH and when entering the room in which Frick and Frack worked, said (en français, bien sur), "And these are the women who are sleeping with my husband."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:17 PM
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But you can't say that GHWB was a mensch for not doing it, when it simply never came to that for him.

I'm not saying Bush Sr. was awesome or whatever, I'm just trying to offer some sort of explanation for 1. why Clinton's behavior during the Lewinsky scandal seemed to piss so many people off, and 2. why that behavior was unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive from a political standpoint.


Posted by: earth thing | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:17 PM
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I just had a horrible vision of President Obama caught having an affair with a white woman. Dear Barack: please don't do that. Love, rfts.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:19 PM
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129: Fair enough.

130: Perhaps the VRWC could fake such an affair! With a planted, daintily-embroidered handkerchief!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:21 PM
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I think we can all agree that no one believes that "Clinton fucked an intern" is the fullest or best critique of Clinton from the left. Certainly, it's not a reason not to vote for HRC. The Greenberg column is annoying because it ignores the behavior of the DLC and HRC during the last seven years as explanations for people's HRC phobia. It wasn't so long ago that most Dems loved 'em both, and--if HRC doesn't get the nomination--soon enough we will again.

That's the thing that drives me most nuts about all of these HRC-supportive counter-narratives. It's as if the Iraq doesn't exist and the last seven years didn't happen. Whatever Greenberg wants to say about WJC and the DLC in 1992--and I trust Baer not at all--he cannot say that WJC didn't own the DLC by 2000. And because he cannot say that, he just pretends that time stopped at the end of 2000.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:27 PM
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118: Oh, sure. If the argument is "He should have known the rules were different for him"; fair enough. I just get cranky when people talk about the Lewinsky thing as though he were snorting blow off a stripper's tits at 10 am on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, rather than being within the realm of conventional Washington misbehavior.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:28 PM
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Whatever you think of his actions personally, calling the Lewinsky scandal an unforced error rather than the culmination of a six-year witch-hunt that finally found one thing that could be whipped into a scandal is ludicrous.

I guess I don't see why "unforced error" and "culmination of a six-year witch-hunt" can't both be true.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:29 PM
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131.2: I'm sure the e-mails are circulating even now.

132: Comity. Compared to most other presidents in my lifetime, WJC was pretty damn good, and I think there's a decent chance HRC would be better (also a decent chance she'd be worse). But she's not the best candidate available to us in 2008.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:30 PM
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122: Actually, didn't it come up during the Dukakis campaign? And GHWB lied his nonexistent patrician ass off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:32 PM
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133: I will totally defend that too, if asked.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:33 PM
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53: I have absolute confidence that Hillary Clinton will not screw around with any interns

Not that she won't be smeared for it.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:38 PM
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117

"Did Rockefeller get in trouble?"

On April 1, 1963 Margaretta Murphy divorced her husband of 17 years with which she had 4 children. On May 4, 1963 she married Nelson Rockefeller who had divorced his wife of over 30 years (with which he had 5 children) the year before. This sequence of events did Rockefeller's Presidential ambitions no good at all.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:40 PM
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A couple of random points.

1. Clinton didn't make it easy for the Republicans. His affair with Lewinsky came to light by accident after years of multi-million-dollar investigations that had been trampling a lot of bounds and precedents. The Starr investigation circus was a new thing; had anything like expected limits been in place, the affair would never have come to Starr's attention.

2. Among the people screwing young secretaries and such at the time was of course Newt Gingrich, who later divorced his wife while she was recovering from cancer surgery to marry his inamorata. Another of the Gingrich innovations was a far deeper hypocrisy about such things, going past generic hypocrisy into what amounts to an outright denial of reality.

I still think it's sleazy to be screwing around with interns, and a mark against Clinton's character. I'm just not sure it's quite the particular kind of stupidity some of you do.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:40 PM
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I guess I don't see why "unforced error" and "culmination of a six-year witch-hunt" can't both be true.

Yes!

And my apologies for entangling the thread in decade-old Clintoniana. I really didn't think anyone contested the proposition that Bill Clinton had bad judgment about his love life. As Tim says, that made life hard for Al Gore shouldn't be on the top 10 of left wing criticisms on Bill Clinton. From a policy perspective, he wasn't very left. Was he as left as he could be given circumstances? Maybe. Gays in the military was a courageous early effort...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:43 PM
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136

"... And GHWB lied his nonexistent patrician ass off."

GHWB denied having an affair as did Kerry when he was similarly accused.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:43 PM
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140

"Among the people screwing young secretaries and such at the time was of course Newt Gingrich, who later divorced his wife while she was recovering from cancer surgery to marry his inamorata. ..."

That was an earlier wife.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:47 PM
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142: The teensy little difference being that the available evidence (AFAIK) indicates that Kerry was telling the truth and GHWB wasn't.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:48 PM
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And even if they were both lying, rather than just GHWB, lying about your extramarital adventures apparently isn't scandalous unless someone puts you under oath for it.

The point about calling it an unforced error is that everyone screws up some stuff, and most people get away with a fair amount. Clinton got put in a position where any error would have been blown into a scandal. He fucked up, but it took a whole lot of unusual activity he couldn't have controlled to turn it into a big deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:51 PM
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145

"And even if they were both lying, rather than just GHWB, lying about your extramarital adventures apparently isn't scandalous unless someone puts you under oath for it."

Well, it's not really scandalous under oath or otherwise until someone proves you are lying.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:59 PM
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143: You're right. But he was cheating on the lucky gal who was his wife at the time, even brazenly showing up for breakfast in the Congressional cafeteria with the StaffAss he was currently fucking. (He's married to her now.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 6:59 PM
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And even if they were both lying, rather than just GHWB, lying about your extramarital adventures apparently isn't scandalous unless someone puts you under oath for it.

I don't mean to sound like I'm belaboring this, because I really don't care about the Lewinsky thing that much, but lying under oath really is a big deal. It's a big deal even if you're lying about something stupid like cheating on your wife, because the whole point of having a crime like perjury is to reinforce the norm that you can't lie under oath to a court, period. I know that nobody actually cares about the lying instead of the sex, and that it was a witch hunt, etc., etc., but I really do think that lying under oath is a huge deal.


Posted by: earth thing | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:01 PM
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Least relevant unfogged debate ever.

You missed have missed baa and I arguing about the War on Grenada.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:01 PM
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Well, gosh, so much of this is so ahistorical.

Bruce, I see, has already in 140 taken care of baa's "made it easy" thing. LB has already talked sense about the negligible impact the scandal would have had, absent Starr, but I don't think anybody has pointed out that Gennifer Flowers blew up before Clinton was elected.

People are still saying that the Lewinsky scandal imposed a political cost on Clinton, but he left office with a 66% approval rating and George W needed to run aggressively against the Republican Congress ("I'm a uniter, not a divider") to persuade the American people to almost give him a plurality of the vote.

The scandal cost both Gringrich and that guy who was going to be speaker their congressional seats, and didn't do any good for Henry Hyde's reputation, either. Larry Flynt embarked on a productive career as an investigative pornographer*.

Many people here are looking back at the ginned up Starr investigation, the comically hypocritical Republicans in Congress, the witch-hunt impeachment proceedings, the hysterical media, and the horny president and seeing the situation as primarily Bill Clinton's fault. I gotta tell you, to look at that list and identify Bill as the most despicable malefactor in the situation seems nuts.

*That phrase is a Slate coinage and it still cracks me up.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:04 PM
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148: There's a reason they call it a perjury trap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:04 PM
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That'd be close. Although now that I think about it, wasn't there an argument about the Falklands at some point?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:04 PM
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NPH and baa are totally right about the Lewinsky thing, and Katherine is right about everything else. Clinton was pretty good overall, but with welfare reform and DOMA especially, he screwed over people who had no other party to advocate for them. Mostly, this post has reminded me that my life is better since I stopped reading Slate.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:04 PM
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... but I really do think that lying under oath is a huge deal.

Would someone who knows more about Carl Schmitt than I do please respond to this, in the context of this thread?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:05 PM
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152 to... well, you know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:05 PM
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132 - Tim, the thing that pissed me off about the article other than the fact that it just vanishes Iraq out of the picture is that it blithely assumes away all the downsides to the Clintons. Welfare reform? Good for poor mothers! NAFTA? Good for the workin' man in Ohio! Defense of Marriage Act? Hey, look at the gays now! Some of these are defensible positions, but they're not obvious positions, even if you grant that Clinton was hobbled by a gang of slavering jackals in the House of Representatives and the Wall Street Journal editorial boardroom. (I know Sifu and Rfts have real lingering resentment about HRC's video-game and flag-burning stances, respectively, and the Slate piece, unsurprisingly, doesn't even mention the downside of constant rhetorical retreat to Republican positions.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:06 PM
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I resent the video-game bullshit too! I'm chock full of resentments.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:10 PM
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There's a reason they call it a perjury trap.

It traps people who commit perjury?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:10 PM
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You missed have missed baa and I arguing about the War on Grenada.

Wow, that brings me back. Simpler times, man.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:11 PM
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Many people here are looking back at the ginned up Starr investigation, the comically hypocritical Republicans in Congress, the witch-hunt impeachment proceedings, the hysterical media, and the horny president and seeing the situation as primarily Bill Clinton's fault. I gotta tell you, to look at that list and identify Bill as the most despicable malefactor in the situation seems nuts.

Comment numbers where anyone defended any part of the Starr investigation or the impeachment proceedings or said that Bill was the biggest wrongdoer? And while you're at it, maybe let us know what good Clinton's 66% approval rating at the end of his term did the Democratic Party or the public, because I sort of suspect that there are more productive things the White House and Congress could have been doing with their time during the Lewinsky saga. It's not Clinton's fault that the Republicans were insane, but it is his fault that he handed them a stick to beat him with.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:11 PM
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157: yeah and I definitely resent the flag burning bullshit. Comity!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:11 PM
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160: Eh, I started it by reacting to baa's characterization of the Lewinsky thing as an "unforced error", which is still bullshit. The sex was unforced, but not in itself scandalous. The scandal was forced.

But Bill certainly could have been a better man.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:14 PM
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Oh, come on, surely we can keep this going for another couple hundred comments. Just because we agree about 99% of this doesn't mean we can't rip each others' throats out over that last 1%.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:16 PM
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The best thing you can say about the Clinton presidency is that it took welfare off the table as a bludgeon against the democrats. I for one can't be all that excited about welfare-to-work becoming a tool to undercut public sector unions and crowing about how "we're reducing the rolls" because we're kicking people off 'em. But it changed the political landscape.

Yes, it's true that there wasn't a liberal ascendancy. But the signal positive policy accomplishment of the Clinton '90s was the EITC. That's good, but compare it to the previous two-term democrat: LBJ and the passage of the civil rights legislation. Maybe Clinton paid for LBJ's sins. That doesn't make him a good president; at best it makes him a tragic figure.

Clinton's crime bill was not much better than USA PATRIOT. NAFTA was a huge extension of U.S. imperial commercialism; the Clintonites maintained the frame that resistance was dinosaur protectionism when no, it was about using globalization to protect the environment and the rights of workers outside of the U.S. instead of just outsourcing exploitation to more exploitationy places.

Robert Reich was a good guy in that administration, but not good enough and mostly ignored.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:16 PM
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Snarkout beat me to most of it. As did this from Jesus:

Mostly, this post has reminded me that my life is better since I stopped reading Slate.

(I still tune in for Dear Prudence. What can I say? I love advice columns.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:18 PM
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165: Dahlia Lithwick!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:20 PM
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161: Woo! Hook 'em haters!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:21 PM
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167: I hate too! Let's all hold hands! Or burn flags and play GTA!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:24 PM
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168: while on welfare in Mexico! Whee!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:24 PM
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Greenberg:

Having been battered by globalization, rising health care and education costs, and the subprime mortgage disaster, they're remembering the Clinton years and voting for who they think will help them.

Having been battered by globalization WHAT THE HOLY FUCK? The best thing you can say about Bush is that he's a terribly indelicate globalizer. The Bush years have coincided with round after round of globalization talks falling through because people hate us (not to mention social democratic insurgencies throughout Latin America) and many of those that pass having much better features than the 90's rounds (Africa, courtesy Jesse Jackson Jr.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:25 PM
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Tim, the thing that pissed me off about the article other than the fact that it just vanishes Iraq out of the picture is that it blithely assumes away all the downsides to the Clintons.

Right, I think that's the critique from the left. I'm just not "the left," and I think the standard response--as you say--is he did the best he could* given the circumstances. On the whole, I think the response is right, but I also think that there was much more overhang from the 60s/70s for the Dems than most other people believe there was. I have little reason to believe particularly in my own appraisal of the time.

* It's hard to factor in the effect of Clinton's own more moderate or conservative beliefs (to the extent that's an appropriate word for politician, or Bill Clinton) on his end accomplishments. The party moved to the right, but how much of that was a function of the lay of the land and how much a function of WJC's own beliefs is unclear to me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:25 PM
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All this for the phrase "unforced error"? I am beginning to understand why we seem to talk past each other! If it's any consolation, I almost used the exact same language as NotPriceHamlet*: "stick to beat him with."

*I want to use "NPH" for Harold and Kumar-related reasons


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:25 PM
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169: I think we need crack too! Frankly I'd prefer powder cocaine, though, that we could receive disproportionately lenient sentences for!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:28 PM
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34, 40, and 45, with all the quotation marks around "unforced", didn't tip you off that that was what struck me as wrong about your comment? Indeed, we do seem to talk past each other.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:30 PM
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Now that I think about it, I am confused. I thought you less objecting to the phrase than maintaining that Clinton's actions weren't rash-beyond the usual standards of DC bad behavior -- because you didn't stand down when I clarified that what I considered "unforced" was not being subpoenaed, but taking really excessive and foolish risks. You're still maintaining that it wasn't an unusually rash act, right? Yet it seems like instead of saying "that was an unforced error" I had said "that was pretty stupid and undisciplined" we wouldn't have had this conversation. Or it wouldn't have taken this path. So it does seem like I have the gift for the grating or provoking phrase.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:51 PM
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Comment numbers where anyone defended any part of the Starr investigation or the impeachment proceedings

Oh please. Comment number where I suggested that someone did that. All I'm saying is that if you look at the whole scandal, and the malfeasance of the various players, Bill's malfeasance is pretty insignificant - and yet it tends to be the focus of these conversations.

The idea that Bill "handed" them something I have already objected to, but I'll refer you to 140 where Bruce summarized the situation. The idea that the Republicans and the media needed something like this to go apeshit seems ahistorical both from the point of view of what preceeded it, and what followed. What did Al Gore do that prompted the media to go apeshit on him? What was the underlying factual basis for, say, Whitewater?

Bill's 66% put Al Gore in a position to gain a plurality of the vote for the presidency of the United States, despite the fact that pretty much everyone, including Gore, acknowledges that he ran a pretty shitty campaign with an actively oppositional media. Not a small achievement.

But okay, let's accept that Bill's misadventures somehow hurt Al without damaging Bill's own popularity. Reflect for a moment on the 1998 elections. Midterm elections are normally pretty nasty for incumbent presidents, but the Democrats came through quite nicely, if memory serves, even with the investigation underway.

there are more productive things the White House and Congress could have been doing with their time during the Lewinsky saga

Again, not arguing this. I'm just pointing out who was mostly responsible for the situation. As I said in 30, so many Clinton critiques seem to write the Republicans, the media and the special prosecutor out of the picture as responsbility-bearing individuals. Clinton's culpability certainly exists, but geez, how culpable was he compared to the other parties involved?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 7:54 PM
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Well, "unforced error" sounds to me like he created the scandal all himself, rather than it being the culmination of a whole lot of concentrated effort from his enemies, which struck me as a peculiar and ahistorical way of looking at what happened.

Again with the excessive and foolish risks -- they were excessive and foolish in the context of the witch hunt directed at Clinton, but not unusually excessive or foolish generally. But that turn of phrase probably wouldn't have struck me quite the way 'unforced' did -- when you're literally forced by legal process to either confess to adultery or lie about it, calling the ensuing scandal an unforced error is bizarre.

I have the gift for the grating or provoking phrase

Indeed. And we've experimentally determined that it's not even about knowing it's you -- unsigned comments you've made work the same way!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:02 PM
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Oh please. Comment number where I suggested that someone did that.

That would be 150. Specifically, the paragraph quoted immediately before the sentence you quote in 176. As far as the rest of 176, there's lots there that I agree with and some that I don't.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:03 PM
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d. What did Al Gore do that prompted the media to go apeshit on him?

Be irritating. Did no one here go to high school in the US?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:04 PM
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The question isn't whether Clinton is the biggest malefactor in the episode. It is whether he did something really stupid -- getting involved with a kid who, unlike GHWB's alleged mistress, couldn't keep her mouth shut. I don't see how anyone can say that the relationship was other than pathetic and stupid. Of course we would all have been better off if it had remained private. Again, Lewinsky is more to blame than Clinton (and Tripp than both of them) but it's not unreasonable to hope that a guy with Clinton's potential would've behaved better.

The opinion polling after the 2000 election doesn't mean a damn thing. Or through 99. The fact is, two years of a promising presidency was essentially wasted because of this thing. Is Clinton more victim than perpetrator? Sure. We're just victims, though.

I think Congress is more to blame for 1994 than the President.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:05 PM
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175: Clinton's Big Scandal was simply not more rash than, say, the current Iraq War, Iran-Contra, Watergate, Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, etc. Clinton was a much more cautious president than his predecessors (excepting Carter and Ford) and his successor. And the guy got impeached for Chrissakes.

I just can't look back at the problems related to Lewinsky and see them as evidence of some unusual Clintonian recklessness. By modern standards, he was a pretty sedate president.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:06 PM
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getting involved with a kid who, unlike GHWB's alleged mistress, couldn't keep her mouth shut.

Come on. GHWB's mistress was an open secret, so someone was talking, either GHWB himself, or Jennifer. Monica told a friend, but it became a scandal because she was threatened with jail, not because she was less discreet than GHWB's girlfriend.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:09 PM
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Lewinsky is more to blame than Clinton

Do you really think that? Yes, she was the more active pursuer in the affair, but Clinton really should've been much MUCH more mature about it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:14 PM
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181: More cautious in policy matters, which was often a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. Sometimes reckless in personal matters. And yeah, a politician's sex life shouldn't be a big deal, but sometimes it is, and it's really not that hard to keep your zipper up around the interns. It's not the magnitude of the misjudgment, mostly, it's how totally unnecessary it was.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:14 PM
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182: Let us not forget the stained blue dress, without which I suspect the scandal would have dissipated. I wonder how many of our presidents could have been busted by the unfortunate placement of DNA, had there been a sufficiently dedicated Javert. I absolutely refuse to believe that Clinton was the only one.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:15 PM
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164: That's good, but compare it to the previous two-term democrat: LBJ and the passage of the civil rights legislation.

Setting aside that LBJ was a 1+ termer:
Congress/Senate, 1965: 68-32 (D), 295-140 (D)

Congress/Senate, 1993: 56-44 (D), 259-176 (D)
Congress/Senate, 1995: 46-54 (R), 205-230 (R)

In 1965, half the Dems in each house could literally stay home, and the remainder would still constitute a majority.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the 93/94 Congress was Bob Dole voting repeatedly against the health care bill with his name on it, not to mention a half dozen "Dem" Senators who basically decided to be their own opposition party, knifing WJC at every opportunity. Bill Clinton never faced a favorable Congress. Insofar as he's to blame for losing congress (which is 5-10% culpability, max), it was because he forced through the balanced budget act/tax increase without a single R vote (and 6 Dem Senators + 41 Dem Representatives voting against). That vote made this country a better place. The fact that it wasn't a liberal initiative shouldn't count against Clinton. Unlike a modern Republican, he was willing to do the right thing for the country even if it cost him political capital.

Also: peace in Northern Ireland seems like kind of a big deal, and he came within an eyelash of getting a viable agreement in Israel/Palestine. Again, not liberal priorities, but damn if that stuff didn't make Americans more loved abroad and Dems more trusted at home.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:15 PM
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Isn't "unforced error" a baseball thing, not indicating bad moral judgment, but like, the guy was trying hit the ball past you, which he was going to try his best to do anyway, and you made it easy for him by tripping over your cleats?

I think Katherine is right about the criticisms of Clinton. I think this "unforced error" and "six-year witchhunt" are completely compatible. I remember the witchhunt and the feeling of this? this is what stuck?. They wanted to get him on something, but "don't fuck the interns when you're the center of a very partisan, very nasty witchhunt when it plays into a readymade infidelity narrative even though it's unfair you're not getting the same rules as all the rest of the old farts in Washington" probably satisfies the categorical imperative.

As for the Gore thing, I dunno. I remember hearing noise that the Gores were upset that Clinton wasn't letting him have the spotlight enough, but that's half-remembered from eight years ago.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:19 PM
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It's a tennis thing, actually.

When you, e.g. double-fault into the net or hit an easy forehand, rather than lunging for it and missing or whatever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:21 PM
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187: I googled it, actually, because I was thinking baseball but couldn't figure out what "unforced" meant in that context. Seems to be tennis, instead, and the difference between forced and unforced is an error returning a shot you should have been able to return, and one you got your racquet on but was unreturnable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:23 PM
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Is there a generational gap showing up in this thread? It's starting to seem to me that the 30 and younger are disappointed and pissed at Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, whereas the older commenters are mostly "eh, fucking Republicans" about it. A show of hands?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:25 PM
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Do you really think that? Yes, she was the more active pursuer in the affair, but Clinton really should've been much MUCH more mature about it.

I think the meaning was simply that Lewinsky shouldn't have blabbed to Tripp, not that she bears disproportionate responsibility for starting the foolish dalliance.

because she was threatened with jail

And let's not forget: illegally so. We must never forget how much actually-illegal, actually-damaging behavior was necessary to set that perjury trap. Not to mention that the reason that Clinton's answers were so legendarily evasive was that he was strenuously avoiding perjury while keeping the scandal hidden. While he plainly lied about the affair on TV, a pretty good argument can be made that he didn't technically perjure himself (it was the prosecutors who set up a definition of "sexual relations" that didn't actually cover what they had done).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:26 PM
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In 1965, half the Dems in each house could literally stay home, and the remainder would still constitute a majority.

While, instead, half of them were in virulent opposition. I love the Big Dog, but he wasn't LBJ.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:27 PM
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It's not the magnitude of the misjudgment, mostly, it's how totally unnecessary it was.

Well, okay, if you're going to leave the magnitude aside (which seems like an odd thing to do), then there's a decent case to be made that Clinton's misjudgments where as unnecessary as, say, Isikoff's or those of other media figures, who were also motivated by a kind of selfishness and lust. But even leaving magnitude aside, I'd say Starr and Gingrich were worse.

One of the services that Patrick Fitzgerald performed was that he demonstrated how an honest prosecutor works. The contrast with Starr is pretty shocking.

But at some point, these things become nearly aesthetic judgments, and you just have to agree to disagree.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:28 PM
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190: I'm older than LB but I think younger than PF. Napi's older than I am.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:28 PM
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It's starting to seem to me that the 30 and younger are disappointed and pissed at Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, whereas the older commenters are mostly "eh, fucking Republicans" about it.

Maybe the age thing is the difference between being able to see yourself in Clinton's shoes and being able to see yourself in Lewinsky's shoes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:29 PM
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187

Unforced error is a tennis term.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:29 PM
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190: As an oldster, I fit your model.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:29 PM
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But even leaving magnitude aside, I'd say Starr and Gingrich were worse.

Yeah, I don't think anybody here disagrees with that.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:29 PM
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190 - I was pretty pissed and disappointed at the time (end of high school, beginning of college). I even kind of half-heartedly supported impeachment, on the premise that 1) impeachment! exciting!; 2) I was genuinely kind of pissed off at the time; and 3) I thought it would guarantee Gore winning the 2000 election if he were sitting president (this might have been poor calculus on my part, I'm not sure).

My dad was, at the time, really really pro-impeachment (and he's never voted for a Republican for president in his life); most other adults in my family were of the "eh, fucking Republicans," line.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:30 PM
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I'm older than LB but I think younger than PF. Napi's older than I am

Given these facts, in what month does Ogged's birthday fall?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:30 PM
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195: I dunno, I'm only two years older than Lewinsky. Demographically, I should be sympathizing with her rather than Clinton, if those were the choices. I'd rather sympathize with both of them and save my hostility for the people who made her a lifelong punchline.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:31 PM
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200: It's a trick question. The 12 imam is revealed, not born!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:32 PM
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I don't know when ogged's birthday is, but if he needs widgets, I can tell what factors will affect his supply chain!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:33 PM
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Right, how did the interview go?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:33 PM
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I do sympathize with both of them, and I respect both Clintons a lot for coming through the thing with their marriage intact. It was still a stupid thing for him to do.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:33 PM
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I read in National Review that Iranians don't have birthdays.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:34 PM
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195: Eh, I'm basically Monica's age, and, while I never was fond of Clinton (what with my early-20s uber-righteous leftiness), I truly didn't care whom he fucked. (I did care about the sleazy stalker comments.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:35 PM
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204: Overall well. I thought I did better in the first two rounds of the interview than in the third, in which the guy acted impatient with me and seemed bored, but I felt energized afterwards and had fun.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:36 PM
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201: Elbie and I are the same age! That means that you are the *baby* sister!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:36 PM
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176

"... What was the underlying factual basis for, say, Whitewater?"

The $1000 to $100000 investment with a sleazy commodities broker certainly raised questions.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:37 PM
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I am, in fact, the 'little' sister in comparative size as well as age.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:38 PM
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210: That one is literally the only one of the financial allegations that there might have been something to. But Whitewater itself was all nonsense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:39 PM
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My cunning demographic hypothesis does not appear to be valid.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:41 PM
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I think the standard response--as you say--is he did the best he could* given the circumstances. On the whole, I think the response is right, but I also think that there was much more overhang from the 60s/70s for the Dems than most other people believe there was.

SCMT has been right consistently in this thread. Clinton was an acceptably progressive President beseiged by a surging and aggressive Republican tide that was on the verge of taking over all major institutions. He did a decent job given that.

But the real problem has been the Clintons record since 2000, when the Republicans overplayed their hand and showed their full E-VIL the Clintons continued playing defense and didn't step out aggressively against what was happening. That's the thing to blame them for.

With all that said, there's still a decent argument for Hilary against Obama. A) Obama has major potential weaknesses in the general, and B) he's inexperienced enough that I'm afraid he'll blow his first six months in office on a big floating seminar trying to decide what to do. Same as the Clintons did back in 93.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:42 PM
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Is there a generational gap showing up in this thread?

Actually, I think there's a generational gap in the underlying issue. Having actually read a lot of the Clinton/Obama threads here, I reject the claims up above that the Obama people don't badmouth Bill's presidency much: I see it all the time. And I see it breaking down more or less thus: the over-30s are fairly liberal, and are pissed at WJC for being less liberal than they were/are, whereas the under-30s are not necessarily as liberal, but have accepted the basic narrative "WJC wasn't liberal enough" without understanding the political atmosphere in the US pre-1995. The idea that, 4 years after Dukakis was defeated primarily by a campaign of A. Willie Horton and B. calling him (Dukakis) a liberal, WJC could have come in and achieved all these wonderful liberal things is, to me, delusional.

It's not clear to me if Katherine's comments about "assumptions about the U.S. electorate" are talking about now or then, but if she's really saying that the American public wanted Dennis Kucinich in 1992, but Bill just wouldn't give it to them, then I think she's nuts. Brand Democrat was a damaged property in 1992. It was still a given that Republicans were the fiscally responsible ones despite the Reagan deficits, and a given that Dems were criminal-coddlers who just wanted to hand your tax dollars to welfare mothers to have more babies. I don't see that as a favorable environment for muscular liberalism. Whatever else you say about the Clinton years, he wiped the slate clean on those issues, and with policies that were better than the actually-available alternatives. The only smear on Dems that still has currency is "weak on defense," and I think it's hard for the non-Neanderthal party to beat that rap - the party of Bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran is going to out-tough the sane people every time. All you can do is make your arguments, do the right thing, and hope that people like your social policies enough to forgive your failure to pile up a body count (I realize that last is a bad assumption about the US electorate, but they're the ones who voted against Kerry, so fuck 'em).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:44 PM
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213: Under 30 means you were a teenager or younger when it was all happening, and might maybe have absorbed all the shock and outrage less critically than you would now? That's an obnoxious theory of me to postulate, but I think it works better than splitting people up into Clinton sympathizers and Lewinsky sympathizers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:44 PM
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half of them were in virulent opposition

Well, it was still before the Great Realignment was complete - you still had dozens of Southern Dems who were Dems only because the Republicans were the Party of Lincoln. By 1995, they were almost all gone.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:46 PM
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Shouldn't Obama be forewarned and forearmed against that danger? God knows that modern presidential campaigning doesn't give candidates time to think coherently about the present, let alone the future, but surely a bunch of people around him are preparing for a transition team---and looking at WJC's mistakes so as to avoid them. Obama's a fresh face, yes, but he's not surrounded by total n00bs.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:46 PM
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My pal Ken, a Southern gentleman whose memory extends back further than mine, likes to remind people of Big Jim Folsom when conversations about Clinton come up. Here's a version of the Folsom narrative that I fetched from Google:

And of course there was Governor Jim Folsom of Alabama, a great big fellow whose eye for a well-turned ankle earned him the nickname Kissin' Jim. In one campaign the press learned that some of his opponents were plotting to entice him into romantic liaisons which they would then expose. Kissin' Jim greeted this news with equanimity. "If they're gonna bait a trap with a pretty girl," he said, "they'regonna catch Ole Jim every time."

Horny politicians aren't any kind of modern innovation - not even horny politicians in the Baptist South whose indiscretions are well known. The innovation in the '90s was the batshit insanity of the Republicans.

Gary Hart didn't have to quit the presidential race when he got caught - as Bill Clinton proved when he got caught and didn't quit in '92. We're in a different age now only because so many Republicans have been forced to step down that resignation has become de rigeur.

Me, I think Barney Frank is a great guy, and I'm glad his scandal took place in a more tolerant time.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:46 PM
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Crap. 218 to 214.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:47 PM
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I'm 40. I blame him for it more than her. He was the one who should have declined.

But, I could care less. Big deal. Two consenting adults.

Starr was the real villain.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:47 PM
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Shouldn't Obama be forewarned and forearmed against that danger?

No blowjobs from anyone but your wife?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:48 PM
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The $1000 to $100000 investment with a sleazy commodities broker certainly raised questions.

Didn't someone pop up here just a week or two ago averring that, at the time, transactions like that were fairly common and plausibly-legal?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:49 PM
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No blowjobs from anyone but your wife failing the max(25,1/2 + 7) rule


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:50 PM
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212

"210: That one is literally the only one of the financial allegations that there might have been something to. But Whitewater itself was all nonsense."

If I recall correctly their accounting was sloppy at best and there were some tax issues. According to wikipedia:

"In March 1992, during his presidential campaign, the Clintons acknowledged that on their 1984 and 1985 tax returns, they had claimed improper tax deductions for interest payments made by the Whitewater Development Company and not them personally.[34] Due to the age of mistake, the Clintons were not obligated to make good the error, but Bill Clinton announced that they would.[34]

Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster looked into this matter, but did not take any action before his death.[34] Almost two years from the original announcement then passed before, on December 28, 1993, the Clintons did make this reimbursement payment, for $4,900, to the Internal Revenue Service. This was done just before Justice Department investigators started seeking the Clintons' Whitewater files. The payment was made without filing an amended return (possibly because the three-year period for amended return filing had passed), but did include full interest on the amount in error, including the additional two-year delay.[34] The Whitewater files in question, publicly released in August 1995, cast some doubt on the Clintons' assertions in the matter, as they showed that the couple were aware that the interest payments in question were by the Whitewater corporation and not them personally.[34]"


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:50 PM
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I voted for the first time in 96, but I'd followed politics somewhat as a teenager. I remember watching the Clintons sit down with Barbara Walters (IRRC) to talk about Gennifer Flowers and thinking how absolutely mortifying that must have been, and thank goodness that's done with and over and that nice couple can move on with their lives and service to the country.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:51 PM
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225: A 5K error on your taxes is not a scandal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:52 PM
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215: great post.

Another thing that Clinton should get credit for is holding off the ex-Cold Warriors who wanted to find us a new enemy during the 90s and trigger a massive new military buildup. They found their chance on 9/11, but believe me they were looking for it all thru the 90s.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:55 PM
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All you can do is make your arguments, do the right thing, and hope that people like your social policies enough to forgive your failure to pile up a body count

To be clear, I think it's the failure to do the bolded parts that ennervates a lot of pro-Obama, anti-HRC feelings. And--while I guess it might be true here that 30+ are more liberal (and I'm suspicious about even that)--the cohort in their 30s is generally less liberal, IIRC, than Generation Awesome. I couldn't speak to people much past forty, but the ones here don't seem terribly liberal either.

And, just to clarify (perhaps wrongly), I think Katherine is in her twenties.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 8:59 PM
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Didn't someone pop up here just a week or two ago averring that, at the time, transactions like that were fairly common and plausibly-legal?

I missed that earlier comment, but transactions like that were fairly common - but were not plausibly legal. The thing is, they were a form of graft that was tough to prove.

James is right (ooh, I get a great transgressive frisson saying that). That deal really stunk.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:01 PM
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Yeah, 230's about right. Very hard to prove illegality, but absolutely implausible. If you wanted to rescue HRC's innocence (and I've got no basis for this), her active participation wasn't really required -- whoever it was could have offered to manage an investment for her in a manner she understood to be legitimate, so that she didn't figure out it was a bribe rather than a favor until it became clear the returns were improbable. And the short time frame makes that not absolutely ridiculous.

But I haven't got any basis for that, and she did keep the money. So certainly not pure as the driven snow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:06 PM
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227

"225: A 5K error on your taxes is not a scandal."

Error no, fraud yes .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:15 PM
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Dude, the fact that someone's willing to say that there's some doubt that it was an honest error is a far cry from a fraud conviction. Not a scandal. But the commodity trading one was good -- you hit the very best Clinton allegation of wrongdoing out there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:18 PM
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Yes, JM, I think Lewinsky is more to blame than Clinton for the thing becoming public.

And she didn't just tell a friend once. She went on and on. People who were around then repeat the stalker story, and that she used to brag about her influence with the pres. It was dumb. Not the dumbest thing anyone has ever done, but as NPH says, totally unnecessary.

I'm proud of the two votes I cast for WJC, and would've cast a third. You can't tell me, though, that the loss of 1998 and 1999, and the role that scandal fatigue played in getting Mr Restore Honor and Dignity elected.

I am now the age that he was when the relationship began. Not that it makes any difference.

After he was caught, he lied to his wife about it, and to the Cabinet, and watched as they publicly went to bat for him.

Yes, I'm happy to ritually repeat that Starr and the Republicans suck. They really suck. But in doing so, I'm feeling the same as I do when I have to repeat, in a conversation about say trial under the MCA, that Al Qaeda sucks. Oh, yes it does.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:19 PM
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Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is an internationally respected politician who's campaigning to adoring crowds for his wife, and Monica Lewinsky is the butt of a thousand jokes for the history books and is living overseas in exile.

A-fucking-men. I have fond memories of the '90s because, as Sifu says, the money and the drugs were wonderful. But among other things, I will never fucking forgive Bill for the Lewinsky mess. Yes, she was old enough to know what she was doing; yes, the Republican investigation and impeachment was a witchhunt; and yes, I was thrilled when he was acquitted. But, Jesus Christ, how fucking unconcerned do you have to be to solicit blow-jobs from interns when half the wingnuts in the country are looking for any excuse to nail your ass to the wall?

And now, in retrospect, I'm even less willing to forgive him. Had he turned down those blow jobs; had he avoided all the investigations and impeachment proceedings, Gore almost certainly would've sailed into the White House and while it's probably too much to expect that a Gore Administration could've prevented the September 11th attacks, he, also almost certainly, would've kept us out of Iraq. Not since Helen of Troy have so many people died because of one man's sexual indiscretion.

(I exaggerate, of course, but only a little.)

John Kerry--for all his ham-handedness--is a better man than Bill Clinton will ever be.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:22 PM
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/kellysue/2250108121/


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:39 PM
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236: So awesome.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:50 PM
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233

Not convicting him of fraud, but I think a $5000 underpayment is something as opposed to nothing.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 9:57 PM
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You got me, Shearer. It's a crime the man walks the streets freely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 10:01 PM
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I am 29. I was paying an unusual amount of attention to politics during the 1990s for someone my age. I don't think the U.S. public wanted Dennis Kucinich & that's a bullshit, obnoxious strawman. For a politician who's realistic about the electorate but who doesn't made the same crap assumptions the Clintons do, see, well--obvious examples would be John Edwards & Barack Obama. And this is JUST what I despise about the Lewinsky thing: Cold, hard political reality makes it necessary for activists to accept betrayal after betrayal, but does not make it reasonable for the President to accept that screwing around with interns is too big a risk.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 10:23 PM
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And nice to see PGD agreeing with 215. Yeah, everyone angry at the Democratic establishment is a raving Kucinich supporter. Tell yourself that.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 10:26 PM
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The more fundamental point, though: even if their strategy was right & necessary during the 1990s, it has utterly, utterly, utterly failed us for 8 years and I have been paying really close attention during those years. We wouldn't be rehashing 1992 if Mark Penn wasn't trying to sell us the same line of crap right yet again.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 10:39 PM
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235: I don't think you are reading the political situation correctly. The polls tell us that Bill Clinton - the second president to be impeached in American history - left the presidency as the most popular president in generations. He put a tailwind behind Gore that was somewhat better, even, than what Reagan did for HW Bush.

I don't consider myself an expert on political strategy, but Gore's decision to aggressively run away from the most popular president in generations seems like a mistake.

But here's the real key point: Clinton's popularity was not something that happened in spite of Lewinsky. It was something that happened because of Lewinsky. It's hard to know what Clinton would have accomplished without the Republican witch-hunt, but there's no question that the public understood that Clinton was the subject of a witch-hunt, and loved him for his willingness and ability to fight it.

Jackmormon is right to differentiate peoples' attitudes by age. In real-time, Americans simply didn't buy the media's frame on Clinton/Lewinsky. It's only with endless repetition that the public - especially the younger public - has become convinced that Bill Clinton was some kind of significant criminal - or was unusually irresponsible as president.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 10:45 PM
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240: You've got to be kidding me. You think that, because John Edwards was moderately popular in 2004 and 2008, that's some sort of gauge about where the American people were in 1992? You've just gone and built a strawman, but it's of your position.

It's not about how much attention you were paying in the 90s, Katherine; it's about what preceded them. It's just possible that, when you were 13 and under, your pulse-taking of the US electorate was imprecisely calibrated.

That said, I accept the premise that it's not the 90s anymore, and Dems don't need to duck and cover. That's part of why I initially opposed HRC pretty strongly. But then she actually came out and proposed policies that were not only to the left of where her husband was 10 years ago, but also (at times) to the left of everyone in the field save Kucinich and Edwards. I don't like Penn, but he's not enough to convince me that HRC thinks it's still triangulation time. The fact that she - unlike Obama - has not uttered a single Republican talking point [on domestic issues] reinforce the idea that she knows the 90s are over.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 10:52 PM
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243.4: Yes. I wasn't a Clinton fan, coming from the left. But damned if 1998 didn't make me like the man more.

Further, 235 is pretty insane for blaming Bill. Recall Lincoln: "That is cool; you hold a gun up to my temple and tell me that, if I make a false move, you'll shoot and I'll be a murderer." It was the Republicans who decided that witchhunting was the best use of time in the 1990s. WJC was plenty distracted from achieving anything without the impeachment (and note that, during impeachment, he was being productive - people were amazed at his "compartmentalization"). I refuse to blame him for the fact that someone else took an essentially harmless act and used it to destroy the country.

GWB on 8/6/01 didn't come within a mile of breaking a law, and yet his irresponsibility on that day is infinitely greater than that of Clinton. Blaming Clinton is like blaming your spouse for leaving an upstairs window unlocked before a burglary. Should he have been more careful? Sure. But the burglars are the criminals, and the responsible parties.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:00 PM
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I'm 43.

Katherine pretty well speaks for me with this: And this is JUST what I despise about the Lewinsky thing: Cold, hard political reality makes it necessary for activists to accept betrayal after betrayal, but does not make it reasonable for the President to accept that screwing around with interns is too big a risk. Clinton ought to have sent her packing with some reminders about power imbalances and propriety in chains of command, and the disparity in treatment of the two ever since is just appalling. It didn't deserve to become the government-disrupting scandal it did - that's the Republicans' fault - but it shouldn't have ever happened.

One of the reasons I tipped toward Obama, actually, is his demonstrated willingness (as with Edwards and the war vote) to admit screwing up and explain what he's doing to avoid repeating the mistake.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:05 PM
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239: You got me, Shearer. It's a crime the man walks the streets freely

Yeah, take that LB, not to mention the 40+ people he had killed in Arkansas. I find it hard to even begin to think straight about Clinton given how batshit insane things got in the national dialogue during his presidency (and since). This is the crisis is it not? The country, the press and one of its major political parties teetering at the point of no return in terms of rational behavior. Surely Bill Clinton and his behavior with and after Monica are but flyspecks in this equation. And if we do not identify and fix root cause, any Democratic administration will be at best a holding pattern against the tide. Now, maybe it has changed, maybe Obama is a signal of that. I think we are going to find out a lot about our country, ourselves and our future prospects over the next 9 months.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:05 PM
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241, 242: see the second paragraph of 214, where I pretty much agree with what you said in 242. You raving Kucinich supporter you.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:09 PM
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It's not the guy's job to be popular, especially as he leaves office. His job is to get shit done that helps solve problems faced by people.

Was he better than any president in my lifetime? I'd say yes, but I'm still working through how I feel about LBJ. Was he as good as he might have been if he'd (a) been a little more courageous on policy and (b) kept his zipper up? I think that's a no brainer, and the fact that he was popular doesn't have anything at all do do with it.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:10 PM
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There is something that I have no evidence for, but have often wondered about...

By 1995, it was clear as it would ever be that reality was not an obstacle to the Republican jihad against the Clintons. Mena, AK, as a cocaine smuggling stronghold, those body counts like the ones JP linked to, all that stuff. None of it gets within sniping distance of anything real at all. They'd driven Vince Foster to suicide, or at least strongly abetted his drift toward it, and then used that as evidence that something must be wrong, when a depressed man collapses under the sort of tawdry allegations against him and his employers.

At that point, Clinton might have decided that it scarcely mattered what he did in his personal life. And to some extent he'd have been right, if he thought that way - if there had been no affair, anyone really want to bet against the investigation ginning one up, or just settling for something else they could blow into a semblance of reality?

It's not an excuse, mind you. It's just something i've wondered about.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:15 PM
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247: neither the press nor the Republican party has ever really faced up to its complicity in that sort of behavior. The late 90s were a crucial time in which we could have taken on Bin Laden and the Taliban more aggressively than we did. The fact that Clinton was basically being subjected to a slow-motion putsch in DC was one reason we weren't able to.

Some part of the affection I have for Hillary is a desire to say fuck you to all those scumbags, most of who are still around. But maybe it would be better for the party and the country to nominate someone new and just move past it.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:15 PM
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PGD, 247: Too true. In fact Clinton's moves against Bin Laden were very specifically denounced as wag-the-dog distractions and pointless assaults on irrelevant targets. We can only wonder what a Republican leadership serious about terrorism then might have made possible.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:19 PM
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This thread is probably dead, and I'm coming in at the end of it, but I wanted to make my argument for WJC.

I have tried to think at various time on why I feel so much fondness for the Clinton presidency, and I think it's that he did shift the political discourse in meaningful and positive ways.

I think Clinton really did make politics more "hopeful" and less scary (particularly after 12 years of Reagan/Bush).

Part of that was the times, he was the first post-cold war president, but part of it was his personality. He seemed like the sort of person who was energized by having problems to work on and tinker with, rather than someone who was energized by having enemies.

I think about Mark Schmitt's classic "it's what the issues say about you, not what you say about the issues" article, and he made the argument that Clinton's various "micro-intiatives" said something important about him.

I feel like for as bad as the GWB years have been, it's really important that people can still remember that, not that long ago, things were better and the world didn't seem scary.

I don't think that Clinton was particularly "left" but I think he was figure of sanity in what in retrospect was the start of an insane era in American politics, and that is to his credit.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-13-08 11:52 PM
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Blaming Clinton is like blaming your spouse for leaving an upstairs window unlocked before a burglary.

No, it's like blaming your spouse for giving you an STD that he/she picked up from a third party.

"Honey, I'm sorry. I accidentally left my zipper open and the next thing I knew some intern was sucking my cock!"

I don't blame Clinton for Bush or for the Iraq War. I do blame him for engaging in the kind of morally dubious crap that would get any nearly everyone reading this fired from a job; for being complicit in the wreck of his own Administration; and for contributing to an atmosphere of scandal and faux-outrage which made it easy for the Boy King to run on the issues of "integrity" and "character."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:36 AM
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What was the answer to the question about whether Bill Clinton was a better president than Chester Arthur? No, right?


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:41 AM
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I do blame him for engaging in the kind of morally dubious crap that would get any nearly everyone reading this fired from a job;

Show of hands, here. Who knows of a case where an executive or manager was fired for a consensual, adulterous affair with a much younger co-worker where the co-worker wasn't aggrieved or hostile and the affair wasn't common knowledge?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:44 AM
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Perhaps a better show of hands:

Has anyone worked in an office where an affair between unequals did not take place?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:48 AM
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257: Well, I've worked in a small firm where as far as I know, none of the partners were screwing the associates, paralegals, or other staff, and none of the associates were screwing the paralegals or other staff. But it was pretty small, and I might have missed something.

I just get cranky with the "anyone would have expected to have been fired for that" routine when it's just not true. People sometimes get fired for affairs at work when someone sues over it, or is otherwise aggrieved. Two people quietly having an affair and neither of them complaining to anyone or being conspicuously lewd in public? People don't, conventionally, get fired for that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:55 AM
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I've worked in places where, as far as I know, no affairs at all were happening. I've also worked in places where they were.

As LB says, no-one was fired. I can't imagine, unless there was harassment going on, what the reason for firing would be.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:58 AM
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as far as I know

The key phrase.

I respectfully submit that there is a lot more nookie going on than most people think. Perhaps even here.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:02 AM
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216: Pretty obnoxious, yes, when you're what, 34? I mean, I can almost stand the 'little Cala, you don't remember the 1968 convention, but I was ten years old then and so have aged wisdom' crap but I ain't taking it from someone not old enough to have babysat me.

256: Around here "don't fuck the undergrads or anyone you're in a supervisory relationship with" would be as much of a rule as "don't fuck the interns" should be. But I have to ask whether you're considering the aftermath; if I had a boss who, when his consensual affair was discovered, responded by loudly denying it and trashing the woman he had the affair with, I wouldn't be on his side.

I'm not saying that Clinton deserved the witchhunt. I do remember the nonstop frothing. But I'm really not sure "politicians are SUPPOSED to go after pretty young women, he just did what's normal to his kind" is where I'd want to go with this defense.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:02 AM
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he was figure of sanity in what in retrospect was the start of an insane era in American politics

I'd say that he was actually an oasis of sanity toward the end of an era of insanity that began with Nixon and reached its zenith under Bush Jr. And honestly, I'd class him and Bush Sr. together in that oasis.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:02 AM
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"politicians are SUPPOSED to go after pretty young women, he just did what's normal to his kind"

Go after or pursue is somewhat different from agree to her suggestions. Not much, but different.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:04 AM
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re: 260

It'd be unlikely. These were small workplaces with people I knew fairly well. It'd have been pretty gob-smacking if it had been going on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:05 AM
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I mean, I can almost stand the 'little Cala, you don't remember the 1968 convention, but I was ten years old then and so have aged wisdom' crap but I ain't taking it from someone not old enough to have babysat me.

Yeah, the obnoxiousness was meant as a bit of a slap-back at Jackm's "Maybe young people sympathize with poor abused Monica, but old folks make excuses for predatory old Clinton." (Quote wildly fictionalized for pointmaking.) But that may have been insufficiently clear. In any case, I'm not wedded to it on any serious level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:05 AM
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I've worked in places where, as far as I know, no affairs at all were happening.

I've only been in two of those, one of them a fast food joint with all male employees and the other was a four-person ravioli factory where three of the four people were me, a young gay guy, Froz, and Froz's mom.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:06 AM
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265: Yeah, I know. That was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it's been very weird lately being thought of as a naive young demographic, wondering if I need to have kids to be a grown-up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:08 AM
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if I had a boss who, when his consensual affair was discovered, responded by loudly denying it and trashing the woman he had the affair with, I wouldn't be on his side.

If both people in the relationship were loudly denying it? Which is what would have been the case if Monica wasn't being threatened. I'm not saying he acted well, but in the absence of the witch-hunt, he wasn't doing anything that would have been job-threatening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:09 AM
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As far as I know no affairs are going on right now where I work. I have heard that it has happened in the past, and I don't think it got people directly fired, but I think they were encouraged to leave the organization and did so not long afterwards.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:10 AM
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265: Actually, people without kids seem more grownup to me since I've had them. Impulsive nights out without planning, the capacity to have strange new foods for dinner with no one saying "Yuck" -- there's a lot to be said for households with just adults in them. (On the other hand, children react pleasingly to being given Valentines Day chocolates, so there's that.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:11 AM
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Yeah, the obnoxiousness was meant as a bit of a slap-back at Jackm's "Maybe young people sympathize with poor abused Monica, but old folks make excuses for predatory old Clinton."

More like: young people perhaps naively hoped that Clinton wasn't going to be a nasty old skeeze in office after the Gennifer Flowers thing had blown up in his face, whereas older people had deadened their hearts to hope.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:18 AM
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wondering if I need to have kids to be a grown-up.

In my experience it helps/forces *some* people to grow up, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient. Then again, maybe I'm just being naive and young childfree.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:22 AM
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three of the four people were me, a young gay guy, Froz, and Froz's mom.

Unless I've lost count, either you're coming out of the closet or Froz is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:24 AM
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I think Clinton was one of the best politicians ever among presidents -- up there with Reagan and (from what my folks say) FDR as someone who could connect with the populace. The guy still is incredibly charismatic. I think he was bad for civil liberties and was at the right place at the right time regarding the economy. The Lewinsky thing was (i) terrible judgment and (ii) way overblown by his enemies, obviously, but he goofed for not just admitting it (with one of his patented and very effective apologies) and enduring the howls of indignation/disruption from the Rs that he ended up getting anyway.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:25 AM
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#256. No? Maybe I'm just revealing my own naïveté, but I wouldn't carry on that kind of affair in my office.

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point is here, other than "no harm, no foul." I'm sympathetic to that attitude, but it was foolish of Clinton to think that his Republican opponents would be equally so. And it's that foolishness--carelessness--whatever--that I blame Clinton for.

I'm wildly sympathetic to the view that it was a Republican witch-hunt, that Starr, Tripp, Goldberg, et al. were all even sleazier, even that it was an attempted putsch of sorts. But defending Clinton on the grounds that he just couldn't resist that sexy young thing doesn't actually give him a lot of credit.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:35 AM
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But then she actually came out and proposed policies that were not only to the left of where her husband was 10 years ago,

That just makes me said. Fortunately I'm not terribly lefty.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:36 AM
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Maybe I'm just revealing my own naïveté, but I wouldn't carry on that kind of affair in my office.

Oo! Another big political moment for me in my wee wee youth was watching the Clarence Thomas hearings on TV. It was all, like, sooooo groooosss, and I really internalised the idea that wanted or unwanted, sex should just be kept out of the office. Period.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:42 AM
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275: There's a lot of room between "I wouldn't" and "It's the sort of thing you'd expect to be fired for", no? And I'm really not defending Clinton as a good man, or as a particularly self-controlled man. I'm just pushing back against the idea that the Lewinsky thing was an unusual event revealing particularly bad character or poor judgment -- while regrettable, the only thing it revealed is the sort of bad character and poor judgment that are completely ordinary and don't usually lead to importantly bad consequences on anything other than a personal level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:42 AM
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This is more anecdotal evidence in favor of my generational-split theory, btw.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:42 AM
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277: That's no good; I've had excellent sex in my office. And their office, for that matter.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:45 AM
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279: More evidence for my theory, no? Not generally maybe, but at least for you, it sounds like you imprinted on all-sex-in-the-workplace=sexual-harassment at a time before you'd worked enough to notice that people do form consensual relationships at work, ill-advised though it may be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:55 AM
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Okay, now this is ridiculous. Jackmormon is older than me, right? LB is just a little older than that? THERE IS NO GENERATION GAP BETWEEN AGE 32 AND 36.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:58 AM
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282:

Poor Cala is too young to realize it.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:59 AM
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Wot 282 said.

I'm 36 [shit, when did that sneak up]. 278 seems to fairly encapsulate my view.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:59 AM
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Pretty obnoxious, yes, when you're what, 34? I mean, I can almost stand the 'little Cala, you don't remember the 1968 convention, but I was ten years old then and so have aged wisdom' crap but I ain't taking it from someone not old enough to have babysat me.

Obnoxious?* Maybe. Out of place? I don't think so. I'm 35, which means I'm 6 years older than Katherine (not sure about your exact age, Cala). That's 1.5 administrations that I remember that she doesn't. I have vivid memories as a high schooler of watching Iran-Contra hearings on TV, discussing them with adults, etc. That would be when Katherine was 8 or 9.

Given that the issue at hand is the state of public opinion when Clinton took office, those 6 years are pretty goddamn important. I'm not saying I have superior wisdom; I'm saying I was an eyewitness to politics half a decade, and two presidents, before you and the other under-30s were. It's important in understanding the 90s to know what happened both before and after - the Clinton years don't make sense without the Reagan years. Obviously, it's easy to know the facts of what happened just before one becomes politically aware; but that's a far cry from having a sense of the state of the US electorate.

* Closer examination reveals that this was not a response to me; but I brought up age before, so I'm posting this anyway.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:01 AM
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I'm just pushing back against the idea that the Lewinsky thing was an unusual event revealing particularly bad character or poor judgment

The uniquely poor judgment that it reveals wasn't in the sex, it was in the who, where, and when. A POTUS having sex in the Oval Office while his opponents scheme to destroy him and everything he stands for isn't the same level of poor judgment as an executive of Dumbco meeting a secretary in a conference room before going home to the spouse.

There's a lot of room between "I wouldn't" and "It's the sort of thing you'd expect to be fired for", no?

It is possible that I've attended too many academic sexual harassment seminars.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:04 AM
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Wait, am I supposed to be excusing Clinton?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:06 AM
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You are all of seven years older than me. This no doubt informs your perspective! But I can think of ten different explanations that don't invoke an age gap as the reason, because I'm going to say that you probably weren't as great a critical thinker as you think you were at age 14, and that as we're not in an age of oral tradition and things are written down, it's possible that someone seven years younger than you could have a considered opinion.

And maybe age is part of it. It sure would be nice not to have everything dismissed as not real because you were wise at 22 and I was just dumb at 16.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:08 AM
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287: You can demonstrate your youthful turn of mind by condemning him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:08 AM
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Wait, am I supposed to be excusing Clinton?

Baby, you're supposed to be emulating Clinton. Live the dream, man.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:09 AM
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Yeah, Napi, that would give you sex appeal.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:09 AM
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288: Just to say, Jack's the one pushing the generational theory, and she's pushing it as one of the self-defined kids. I don't think there's all that much to it generally, although Jack particularly sounds like her reaction to the Thomas hearing may have been age-related.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:10 AM
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Everyone's been pushing the generational theory for weeks. I'm not surprised it got turned around on you ancient early-thirties folks. Except that you voted for Obama. Which proves you're not old enough either.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:13 AM
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I was into Star Wars, you were into the Empire Strikes Back.


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:16 AM
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289 -- Having done so, I'm not sure the whole generation gap thesis holds up all that well. Is there a gender gap instead? No -- then maybe it's Pittsburgh vs. The World. No again -- but there must be some way to distinguish the Judean Peoples Liberation Front from the People's Liberation Front of Judea.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:17 AM
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I do kind of feel that there is a generational gap right at about my age, not with politics, maybe, but generally -- that I'm the youngest of a cohort, and even a year or two younger than I am is in a different generation. Things like the Cold War was a real thing I worried about versus it being history, or the Internet being kind of newfangled as opposed to being like running water -- just an ordinary public utility.

But I don't know if my perceptions line up with other people's on this front.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:18 AM
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But I don't know if my perceptions line up with other people's on this front.

Totally. In some ways, the easiest area in which to see the gap is attitudes about crime. (Someone else pointed this out a while ago.) Does anyone really worry about being out too late anymore?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:20 AM
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291 to 290?

It is VD after all -- maybe I ought to go hunt up an intern . . .


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:22 AM
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As far as impeachment itself: at the time I did have a flash of "ew, she's practically my age, you sketchy old man" reaction, & initially had a flash of "Christ, you're too stupid to be president, just let Al Gore do it", but my parents explained all the affairs their political heroes had, & I got over it & mainly pissed at the Republicans. I do retain the "if you can tell me that cold political reality necessitated your support for terrible policies X, Y, & Z, I can tell you it also necessitated you NOT screwing the intern in the office. thanks!" chip on my shoulder. I think it's that particular chip which remains, because I like Ted Kennedy just fine.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:26 AM
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You could probably structure a graduate theology course around studying Ted Kennedy. Such a good man qua politician, such a lousy person otherwise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:28 AM
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Even though the generational theory is being rejected here, I'll speculate that kids who heard about an event through overhearing adults talk about it might have a different opinion than young adults who find things out for themselves. I think that happened with the Vietnam war -- people who were 20 in 1973 (born 1953) probably have a different opinion than those who were 10 (born 1963). I've read that first-time voters in 1980 (born 1961-2) supported Reagan very strongly.

In the case of the Vietnam War, the official memory of the war is also different than what people remember who were there -- there was a reprocessing with a cntrist slant. I don't know what the official memory of the Monica stuff is, but it seems to be the vague idea that Bill Clinton is an awful person.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:41 AM
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Sure, but if JRoth gets to have considered opinions with adults at 14 count as his experience, maybe mine at sixteen ought not to be rejected as 'overhearing adults?' I'm sorry to keep harping on this, but I'm mostly annoyed on Katherine's behalf. What does the woman have to do for you to think she might be serious about issues she actually works on, as opposes to comments on (but those comments are seasoned with age)?

Also, if we were just blindly following whatever we heard as kids, we'd think the Clintons were the most liberal couple EVER.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:47 AM
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No luck with the interns, may as well bloviate at imaginary people on the internet.

Obviously, people are paying attention at different levels, both as kids and now. I was 14 during the Watergate hearings. I listened to/watched a lot of it, had opinions then and now. Mostly that conflicted by the soft-on-authoritarianism adults in my vicinity back then.

I also recall somewhat later on when my little sister was breathless with the revelation that state governments are distinct from the federal government. Completely separate. Who knew? She was 22. I'd been working for a state government for 4 years. She knows a hell of a lot more about rock music of the 80s than I ever will. And bunches of other stuff.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:07 AM
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I was speaking pretty generally, not so much about Clinton. I'm convinced that that's what happened with the Vietnam War. Kids heard their parents grumbling about hippies, and then when they grew up they read a sanitized official version of the story far different from what people saw a day-to-day basis.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:07 AM
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Never trust anyone over 33 and four months, or under 33 and three months, that's what I always say, or at least have been saying for the last month.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:13 AM
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304: well, but some of our parents WERE hippies & we listened to them.

||
If anyone lives in Massachusetts or Delaware & would like to strike a blow for human rights today, email me (see this comment for a slightly modified version of my mreal address). It's really easy, but time sensitive--must be done during business hours today.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:18 AM
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parents WERE hippies

Or crotchety-stick-in-the-mud-hippie-hating leftists, in my case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:21 AM
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Mine weren't actually full fledged hippies--they were a little older, dorkier, & more about the politics than the drugs, music & free love. But I've read my dad's C.O. application, for instance.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:27 AM
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Yeah, mine were just enough older than the Boomers to think of hippies as annoying punks. But their politics were nicely reliable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:34 AM
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My parents were also hippies.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:36 AM
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Both my parents were young enough to have been actual punks, too, come to think of it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:40 AM
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Heh. I meant 'punk' in the 1950s 'Geddoudahere, punk!', annoying kid, sense. Not safety pins in the ears and mohawks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:41 AM
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Hippies conducted a witchhunt against Bill Clinton when he was CEO of an intern corporation? Sorry, I've missed the latter part of the discussion.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:43 AM
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LB, this is a multigenerational crowd and some of us are as old as Katherine's parents if not yours. Was Emerson drafted, or was he just lucky? Sort of thing affects your views either way.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:49 AM
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Mine weren't actually full fledged hippies--they were a little older, dorkier, & more about the politics than the drugs, music & free love. But I've read my dad's C.O. application, for instance.

That sounds like my parents.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:52 AM
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Then there's my mom, who sees clips of America in the 60s on TV and says "Those are those 'hippies,' right?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:54 AM
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Specifically, re: "striking a blow for human rights" in 306, it's about this. A friend of mine is representing a U.S. citizen who's been disappeared in Pakistan--Kerry & Biden are traveling there very soon, they're trying to convince them to raise the issue, & staffers have indicated that constituent emails would help. The link is to an NPR story about the case. If you're from those states or know people who are & want to email Kerry & Biden, email me and I'll fw you sample text to paste in. (I would ask that this be front paged & orange fonted but I don't really want to advertise my email that prominently so there's no point.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:05 AM
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If you give us the sample text, we could post that, no need for your email?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:06 AM
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"if you can tell me that cold political reality necessitated your support for terrible policies X, Y, & Z, I can tell you it also necessitated you NOT screwing the intern in the office. thanks!"

Awesome. Comity.

Also, I totally agree with LB on the cusp-of-generation thing. Part of it is personal circumstances as much as birthdate - my parents were also (slightly) pre-Boomers (my mom loved Sun Elvis, Buddy Holly, and was OK with the Beatles until they "got wierd"), and my only sibling is a 5-yr older sister whom I adored - I identify with 40-yr-olds much more than with 30-yr olds.

I noticed this even in college, where my closest friends were of the same pattern - younger siblings in families with pre-Boom parents. And, indeed, my wife is ~3 yrs older, and her parents are the same age as my mom.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:36 AM
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I'm just pushing back against the idea that the Lewinsky thing was an unusual event revealing particularly bad character or poor judgment

It revealed horrible judgement, how can anyone question that? Anyone around at the time understood that anything like that would lead to apocalyptic Republican retaliation, the conspiracy and its reach was quite clear by 1995. In fact, I think that's one reason why Clinton did it, for him the buzz from that kind of risky sex must have been massive.

But what I resist here isn't the personal condemnation of Bill for being a fucking horny idiot, but the conflation of the Clinton's job performance as President with his personal flaws as a danger-sex addict, male nymphomaniac, etc. If we're passing judgement on "Clintonism" as a political movement we shouldn't be going on about screwing Monica, since we know for sure that Hillary won't be doing anything like that.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:39 AM
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What does the woman have to do for you to think she might be serious about issues she actually works on

Hey, hey. I wasn't trying to say that Katherine is a dumb kid - I actually had assumed until this thread that she was at least as old as I am (I had put her in the too-liberal-for-Bill in the 90s category in my theory). And on civil rights issues, I wouldn't gainsay her in the least. But if she's going to make broad comments about the mens rea of the American public in 1992, then she doesn't just get a free pass. And finding out that she was, in fact, a kid when WJC got elected makes me feel more confident that my impression of the state of political discourse in 1992 is better formed than hers.

Also, I think that I'm getting spillover annoyance from Cala's reaction to LB's theory - that today's under-30s were underinformed during the Clinton years - when my theory - that today's under-30s were underinformed during the Reagan years - is, IMO, pretty unimpeachable.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:50 AM
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screwing Monica, since we know for sure that Hillary won't be doing anything like that.

Yeah, but if Bill got a buzz of transgression from that, imagine what a buzz HRC would get. It would be that all-time FU to the right and the press.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:52 AM
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If anyone has earned the right to screw an intern it's HRC.

btw: "21st century solutions"? Really? Your opponent is cribbing rhetoric from Kings & Kennedys, so you're going to steal your rhetoric from consulting powerpoint presentations and asphalt and concrete maintenance companies?

She still could win OH, TX, PA, & maybe WI though.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:58 AM
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Kings & Kennedys

As opposed to Kennedys and Kings

(completely irrelevant except to note that, say what you like about the Kennedy myth, more of his staffers wrote interesting books than any other administration I can think of. Though Triumph of Politics was worth reading).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:08 PM
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244

"... The fact that she - unlike Obama - has not uttered a single Republican talking point [on domestic issues] reinforce the idea that she knows the 90s are over."

What about opposing raising the limit on the social security payroll tax? Or her line about deporting illegal alien criminals without legal process?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:51 PM
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256

"Show of hands, here. Who knows of a case where an executive or manager was fired for a consensual, adulterous affair with a much younger co-worker where the co-worker wasn't aggrieved or hostile and the affair wasn't common knowledge?"

Harry Stonecipher .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:59 PM
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326: I don't know the story, but "the affair wasn't common knowledge" wasn't supported by your link. Might be true -- possibly there was an investigation that successfully unearthed a discreet affair. But you couldn't tell it from the link.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:05 PM
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In fact, I think that's one reason why Clinton did it, for him the buzz from that kind of risky sex must have been massive.

Huh, my impression was more that he was conflicted as hell about it but couldn't quite bring himself to say no. But I'm not going to go back and revisit whatever gory details caused me to form that impression.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:06 PM
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"The fact that she - unlike Obama - has not uttered a single Republican talking point [on domestic issues] reinforce the idea that she knows the 90s are over."

Yes, this is flatly false. In addition to the "no legal process" stuff & the payroll tax stuff, you should compare their rhetoric on crack/powder cocaine sentencing, mandatory minimums, prisons in general, & needle exchange. (she eventually reversed herself during that last one.) Mark Penn IS her chief strategist after all. People are more surprised when Obama does this so it gets more attention.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:07 PM
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327

"326: I don't know the story, but "the affair wasn't common knowledge" wasn't supported by your link. Might be true -- possibly there was an investigation that successfully unearthed a discreet affair. But you couldn't tell it from the link."

Well, I don't really understand "wasn't common knowledge" criteria. Obviously if no one else ever finds out about it you are safe. Here in both cases the affair became known prompting an investigation.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:21 PM
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There's a lot of space between absolutely secret and open and notorious. If you're e.g., openly sharing a room on business trips, making out in the office, whatever, so that your relationship is absolutely public, that's the sort of thing that I can totally see getting in trouble for. A relationship that's an imperfectly kept secret so some unsubstantiated gossip leaks? Different.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:35 PM
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331

Stonecipher's relationship became known as the result of an intercepted email. See here for a pro-affair take.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 2:35 PM
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Eh, on that link I'd say it's a fair counterexample, given that it sounds as if it were reasonably discreet and leaked accidentally. But that's still not the ordinarily expected outcome.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 2:46 PM
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329: I'm not going to get in the weeds on this one, and I'm sure that HRC has at least occasionally used Right rhetoric. But the needle exchange example is precisely not what I'm talking about. If HRC were doing the Bad Thing, she would have tied needle exchanges to drug abuse, to inner city rot, to the moral position of drug users; further, she would have used needle exchange to tie BHO to these things. Instead, she waffled, calling for more study (a hoary line, but not a loaded one).

Nothing in her waffle can be used against needle exchange; nothing can be used against Democrats. This is in stark contrast to a (limited) number of BHO comments. That is my point. I pointedly did not claim that she was to BHO's left on every single issue. But she has - in direct contrast to what everyone expected going in - pretty consistently avoided Right rhetoric and attacks on BHO from the right. Obviously, when her positions are to the right, her rhetoric will be more right-friendly, but that's not the same as using Right talking points (e.g., "SS is in crisis, and [other] Dems are in denial").

On the SS tax, considering that BHO was explicitly using rightwing talking points, it's a little rich to attack HRC for her rhetoric. But setting that aside, what was the Bad Rhetoric? She called additional taxes on people earning $95-200k "raising taxes on the middle class." Well, these days, $200k is where Dems place the cutoff on taxing the "middle class." For instance, that's where Kerry's proposed rollback of the Bush tax cuts stopped. You can call it bogus for all sorts of reasons, but that's the state of play, and until BHO starts talking about redefining $100k earners as "upper class," he doesn't get to complain about HRC using the common definition.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 4:50 PM
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her rhetoric on ss is clearly worse than his, and the "no legal process" line is worse than anything I am aware of him ever saying, literally. To say nothing of what crap it is to just put aside foreign policy, the single largest difference between them.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 5:55 PM
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her rhetoric on ss is clearly worse than his

Since I think this is absolute crap (like, blood pressure rising crap), we'll just leave it here.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:45 PM
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Referring to raising the cap on social security taxes as "punishing the middle class by sending their hard-earned tax dollars to washington" is a right-wing talking point by any measure.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:15 PM
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Well, clearly not by any measure. See #336. Just by most of them.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:18 PM
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337: Even fucking talking about SS and the word "crisis" on the same day is a right wing talking point, and I refuse to allow BHO an inch on this subject. Frankly, I don't much care what HRC said in response, as long as she didn't credit BHO's bullshit frame, which she didn't.

AFAIC, Dems who talk about "SS in crisis" belong in the Kerrey caucus. Right-wing talking point or no, there is truth in what HRC said. There is no truth in what BHO said.

PS - What is BHO willing to give up to get his actuarially unnecessary tax increase? I've never heard his answer on that point, nor that of his supporters.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:09 PM
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To say nothing of what crap it is to just put aside foreign policy, the single largest difference between them.

With lower blood pressure, I just want to explain why I put this aside. It's not that I think it unimportant - far from it. It's that, if you're going to make this central to your vote, there's no discussion. Either Clinton's vote on the AUMF is unforgivable, and so you'll never vote for her (in the primary, right?), or it's forgivable, and so you can set it aside to look at other issues. It's silly to pretend that you're (general you, not Katherine you) having a nuanced consideration of their infrastructure policies when your vote against HRC was assured in October of 2002.

My very clear impression is that about a third of the Obama supporters here wouldn't prefer HRC over Obama pretty much regardless of any plausible domestic policy differences - BHO was right on the war, HRC was wrong (and doesn't think she was), and unless BHO called for the flat tax and an anti-gay marriage amendment, he's in the clear. I don't have a problem with that, but it can't lead to fruitful discussions of any other issues - it's a trump card. "Obama just said he wants to eliminate the VA." "Ah, but HRC voted for the war." End of discussion, every time. Given that we're all here to discuss things, I set aside HRC's war vote for discussion purposes. That's all it is.

I never supported the war - I was even ambivalent about Afghanistan. I have no love for HRC for her war vote. But I'm not limiting my thoughts about this primary to that moment, even though I understand why I might. I'm pretty sure we all know who said what about Iraq in 2002. So when I talk about HRC and BHO here, I'm setting it aside. That's all.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:13 PM
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It's not fair to just reduce it to the AUMF vote, it's a number of indications (rhetoric, debate exchanges, advisors!) that she's more likely than he is to unwisely utilize military force.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:18 PM
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HRC was wrong (and doesn't think she was)

This is the sticking point for most people.

I think it's not that it's "Obama over HRC, regardless of domestic policy", it's that we've got enough of a record on both to think that there's no domestic policy difference (at least not that I've seen) worth setting aside Clinton's horrendous foreign policy leanings.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:30 PM
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HRC was wrong (and doesn't think she was)

I'm not sure it's the AUMF, or even just foreign policy. It's the complicity. A lot of people, myself included, spent a gawd awful amount of time bitching about Dem behavior over the last seven years. They were, in some sense, complicit in the failures of the the Bush Administration. And the Clintons just were a/the power in the Democratic party during that time; if you hold the party complicit, you hold the Clintons complicit.

That's Obama's great strength, I think: he wasn't complicit. Would he have been complicit had he come to the Senate in 2000? Who knows? Who cares? It doesn't much matter why he has clean hands, as long as he has clean hands and she doesn't.

It's understandable that people who don't think the Dems own a share of the blame feel more comfortable with HRC. But I, at least, am not that guy.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:53 PM
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343: yep. This is why I'm so anti-HRC.

Also, while Obama hasn't exactly been manning the barricades on the issues I've been focused on, there are concrete reasons to trust him more.

I suppose this probably does cloud my evaluation on other issues--I have real "I don't trust her. Mark Penn?!! I don't trust her. She's copying Edwards plan for the primaries but who knows what she'll do in office. I don't trust her" tic. But I'm certainly not arguing pretextually about domestic policy.

Also, it's not just Oct. 2002. Asked to forgive her for it, maybe I would've. For an actual candidate who was more liberal on domestic policy & had tried to make amends on the war, see John Edwards. I still don't know what I'd have ultimately done in a one-on-one Edwards/Obama race.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:25 PM
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Also, on SS? I realize this was our big success & people were prickly about Obama going off-message. But the overreaction to Obama was pretty ridiculous. Prevent him from making a political blunder & get him back on message (which he is) sure, but the idea that he's some right winger--he made much, much, much less of this issue, & proposed a more liberal solution, than Al Gore in 2000.


Posted by: katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:30 PM
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Would he have been complicit had he come to the Senate in 2000? Who knows? Who cares?

Whenever this stuff comes up, I seem to find myself getting into contentious arguments over very small differences.

I certainly agree with the thrust of 343, but I tend to view these distinctions as somewhat less significant than Tim and others do, in large part because I think the answer to the quoted question is very relevant.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 9:31 AM
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I realize this was our big success & people were prickly about Obama going off-message. But the overreaction to Obama was pretty ridiculous.

Rrr. I'm firmly in the foreign-policy trumps differences on this scale, with you and gswift. But the thing is that SS was such a bad bandwagon not to get on -- it was an example of the sort of issue where progressives tend to get rolled, where for once the Democratic party came up with the internal solidarity not to get rolled. It's not even the merits of the SS debate, it's the tactics of it all -- that Obama didn't get that gives me real qualms. (See, Obama's rhetoric on how the Democrats need to get right with people of faith; Obama's Harry-and-Louise health-care handout.)

I voted for him anyway, and I'm not sure how much I should worry about this, but there's a real pattern of failures of rhetorical solidarity in a way that makes me uncomfortable. (This isn't comparative to Hillary, who says some right wing stuff herself. This is absolute.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 9:38 AM
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I tend to view these distinctions as somewhat less significant than Tim and others do, in large part because I think the answer to the quoted question is very relevant.

We disagree about two things: the importance of the distinction and whether the question can be usefully answered. If my mother had been an alcoholic and my father abusive, would I now be a serial killer? Don't know. Don't really care, either.

It's not even the merits of the SS debate, it's the tactics of it all -- that Obama didn't get that gives me real qualms.

I'd find the argument more compelling--if I cared at all about this issue--if Obama wasn't one of the better rhetoricians in the party. As to tactics, if there is a difference, it appears to be the difference between confrontation and co-option. Where available, I prefer co-option.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 10:00 AM
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348: Yep, we disagree about the influence of parents on youths, too - I regard it as a fascinating question with important consequences, and one that, while difficult, can be usefully reflected upon.

347: I think the whole Obama SS thing is overblown in the sense that people take his apostasy entirely too seriously. He's said nothing that he can't take back when the time is right, and we really do know his heart is in the right place on health care.

In another sense, there's been no over-reaction because this is a debate that's almost completely confined to the deepest reaches of the wonkosphere - Krugman being the sole person with any public profile at all who has taken this up.

Krugman is right that Obama is doing some damage to the national discourse, but Krugman himself helps mend that damage by giving Obama shit about it.

It's all good. That's my new motto.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 10:28 AM
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A lot of people, myself included, spent a gawd awful amount of time bitching about Dem behavior over the last seven years. They were, in some sense, complicit in the failures of the the Bush Administration.

That's the best phrasing of that argument I've seen.

Most of the time I'm in the camp of, "regardless of what the Democrats did or didn't do, the Republicans need to own their fuckups, and I don't want to let them try to shift of confuse the blame."

But, the Democratic primaries are a good exception to that general principle.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 10:43 AM
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339

"Even fucking talking about SS and the word "crisis" on the same day is a right wing talking point, and I refuse to allow BHO an inch on this subject. Frankly, I don't much care what HRC said in response, as long as she didn't credit BHO's bullshit frame, which she didn't. "

Actually she effectively did, proposing a massive tax increase suggests the existence of a crisis.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 10:44 AM
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352

Oops, 351 makes no sense. I got Obama and Clinton mixed up. It is Obama proposing a tax increase and thus validating crisis talk. Sorry about that.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 12:04 PM
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351-2: James, you've inspired me to a new understanding of the difference between modern conservatism and liberalism. Conservatives think taxes should be raised only as a response to crisis, while liberals think the same thing about going to war.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 1:57 PM
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322: The cackling harpie had hotter interns: Huma Abedi.


Posted by: Jeb Bush | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:16 PM
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