Posts tagged ‘bill clinton’
You have to go back to January 20, 1961 to find a US President who didn’t screw the pooch in his second term. Nixon had Watergate and resignation. Reagan had Iran-Contra and taped testimony that made him look old and feeble (foreshadowing the Alzheimer’s that would eventually take his life). Clinton had Monica Lewinsky and an impeachment trial. George W. Bush had Hurricane Katrina and a financial meltdown that at least for the time being puts his presidency among the ranks of Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.
I can’t speak for all liberals but both times that I voted for Barack Obama I never dreamed his second term would melt down like those before him. There are two schools of thought about Obama. One claims he is an evil thug (turn to Fox News for that story). Another says he is asleep at the wheel. I tend to believe the latter. This is a man who, for reasons that escape me, still has not learned that the presidency is about leadership. It’s about knowing what the hell is going on around you. It’s about activity, not just passively relying on your daily briefing. As a non-sports fan, I’ll risk using a sports metaphor and say that Obama seems to think the MVP on the basketball team is the dude who can pass the ball to the best shooter. Obama never seems to go for the slam dunk himself. He passes to Pelosi (look at ACA) or he passes to Biden (gun control). Now he’s got three “scandals” on his hands that he needs to take the lead on if he is to maintain any credibility.
Benghazi up until this week was a tragedy exploited for political gain. Then a memo from one of Hillary Clinton’s flunkies surfaced that spelled out the petty politics at the heart of the matter. No, contrary to the opinion of Republicans who are in permanent denial about the implausibility of a Mitt Romney presidency, there was no attempt to tamp down the terrorist aspect for the sake of Obama’s reelection. The memo from Victoria Nuland (which has been in the hands of Congress for some time but strangely only surfaced this past week) spells out the reason for sanitizing the CIA talking points. She wanted to save face for the State Department. So the American people were lied to over petty office politics. Not even big stakes electoral politics. The equivalent of the software development team spinning the bad message from the testing team about the lousy code they produce. Had the GOP proceeded with moderation, the memo could have seen the light of day sooner and Nuland could have been fired as the appropriate sacrificial lamb for the lie perpetrated on the American people. Bottom line, despite the overplay by the GOP, the truth about the Benghazi talking points are a supreme insult to the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The IRS is caught targeting right-wing groups for added scrutiny. Something right out of the Nixon playbook, although as I said earlier, I doubt this goes as far up as Obama. I think Obama is innocently or willfully ignorant of the shenanigans going on around him. Now let’s be perfectly clear, some of the groups targeted ARE full of horse manure, applying for tax exempt status as a community service when they are a pure political organization. The problem is that they were targeted based on profiling. It’s like pulling over the black guy cos you think he’s more likely to have committed a crime. It’s immoral. It’s indefensible.
The Justice department is caught listening in on the calls of the Associated Press, encompassing the conversations of some 100 journalists, at least some of whom are talking with confidential informants. The excuse is that Eric Holder and company were cracking down on leaks that could endanger national security. But let’s be honest here. Washington is hardly leak proof when it comes to national security, particularly if the leak makes the administration look tough on terrorism. Where I come from, conservatives intimidate the press, not liberals. But then again, where I come from conservatives drone-kill innocent 16-year-old boys, not liberals.
What the hell is going on?
And the best my beloved news source MSNBC can do is say “all the presidents have done it” or “Nixon did it” or “Bush did it and where was the Republican outcry then?” Are you kidding me? The best you can do in defense of this presidency is say he is just like every lousy president before him? Didn’t we hope for more?
I don’t know where we go from here. Obama clearly needs to fire a few folks. Credibility needs to be restored. And MSNBC needs to catch up with the rest of the press who are not so enamored of our historic President right now. We need to be honest and say this stuff stinks to high heaven and we need to clean it up. Stop making excuses. Stop covering up. One common theme to the second term curse is that the cover up is always worse than the crime. Obama better wake the hell up and start managing his administration or he will find himself right down there with Bush, Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.
When you bring up the impeachment of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, you will likely get the following vulgar response from the average progressive: “Puhleeze, he was impeached over a blow job.” Heck, I don’t consider myself a radical leftist and this has typically been my response. Of course, I’m wrong and so are my fellow liberals. Unlike Andrew Johnson, impeached more than a century earlier, Clinton actually committed a crime, perjury. However, recent events cast the Monica Lewinsky scandal in an entirely different light in my opinion.
Last week retired General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA after he revealed that he had been in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Some folks consider it a non-starter and wonder why Petraeus felt he needed to resign. Well first of all, he did not honorably fall on his sword. He was asked to resign by his direct superior, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and had this not happened, we have no reason to doubt Petraeus would have tried to salvage his job. The affair supposedly ended months before he was caught by the FBI so where was his honorable conscience in the interim? Even if we buy the notion that he resigned because he felt he dishonored the CIA and even if most of us agree on the immorality of his infidelity, his resignation was necessary for a far more important reason.
David Petraeus was America’s top spy. He had access to highly classified information. An extramarital affair puts him directly in the line of fire of a potential extortion. He could have been blackmailed by any third party that became aware of the affair. He also could have been blackmailed by Broadwell herself if she perceived herself the scorned lover. Clearly it appears that Broadwell sent emails to another woman (Jill Kelley) warning her to stop flirting with Petraeus so Broadwell herself seems to have been slightly unhinged. So Petraeus’ conduct goes beyond just poor judgment or immorality. His conduct put our entire national security at risk. He absolutely had to resign.
And that brings us back to Bill Clinton. As President, Bill Clinton had access to classified information, not the least of which were the codes to the nuclear arsenal. While history may record Monica Lewinsky as a harmless naive intern, Clinton’s consorting with her made him vulnerable to extortion just as it did with General Petraeus. We have a tendency to look the other way when presidents misbehave sexually (see FDR and Kennedy for starters) but the Petraeus affair should make us rethink this tendency. Just as there is a zero tolerance policy for adultery within the CIA, so should it be for the presidency. In retrospect, Clinton should have resigned. Perhaps the next president who cannot control his libido will set a proper precedent and step aside if he gets caught with his pants down.
Photo of Petraeus by Darren Livingston (Central Intelligence Agency) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Clinton by Bob McNeely, The White House  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I could write about how Mitt Romney just revealed that the elderly, the military, the poor and disabled consider themselves victims and don’t want to take care of their own lives but I had a few other random thoughts I wanted to cover. This will be brief.
An idiot in Kansas files a petition to have Barack Obama kept off the ballot in November on the grounds he was not born in the United States. Birther nutjob and Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach considers the petition along with the rest of the all-Republican Objections Committee. Of course the fact that Kobach is a self-described “adviser” to Mitt Romney didn’t seem to make him think he should recuse himself from this judgment on Obama. Apparently enough people contacted the original petitioner and called him a moron that he withdrew his petition. Kobach, not wanting to appear the Birther-wuss said more investigation was warranted. Then Monday he finally agreed to have Obama placed on the November ballot. Of course, one of the folks demanding that this birth issue be thoroughly examined was “California lawyer and dentist” Orly Taitz, a lunatic I thought had finally faded from the scene.
There was a time in this country when no decent person would have made such outrageous claims about a sitting President for fear of being roundly rebuked. But then as Bill Clinton reminded Ted Kennedy back in 2008, there was a time in this country when Barack Obama would be doing nothing more than getting Kris Kobach a cup of coffee.
I guess I’m ashamed to admit it but the one area in which I identified a bit with conservatives was their attitude toward “illegal aliens”. As someone who has been income-challenged for the past few years, I bought hook, line and sinker the notion that Mexicans were stealing jobs from deserving Americans. Even when I recognized that for the most part they were doing jobs most Americans didn’t want to do, I still resented it.
Watching the Democratic National Convention a few weeks ago gave me a bit of an epiphany. I already agreed that Obama was right to extent flexibility to children of undocumented workers who came here by no choice of their own. But the DNC gave me a new perspective on the parents. For the most part, these “illegals” represent the promise of the American Dream. They are no different from the scores of immigrants who have come to our shores over the past 200+ years. They come here to escape a life of certain poverty. They come here because they believe they will find opportunities not available south of the border. What makes them different is that instead of an ocean, there is only an invisible line in the soil separating them from their dream.
I don’t believe we should have open borders. I know it is not feasible to simply let every Tom, Dick and Harry enter the United States at will. But the DNC made it clear to me that we need a compassionate immigration policy. Undocumented workers don’t come here to hurt us. They come here to help themselves.
The Muslim Meltdown
Once again an insult to the Muslim prophet Mohammad is propagated and once again a small contingent of angry Muslims go wild. This time the rage is accelerated by newly elected unstable central governments (Cairo) and opportunistic terrorists (Benghazi, Libya). It was humorously suggested on Comedy Central this week that perhaps Islam’s big problem is immaturity. While at first blush this might seem absurd, Islam is a good 600 years younger than Christianity. Christianity’s record for civil behavior was not peachy keen even within the past 300 years (e.g. Salem Witch Trials). Perhaps a Muslim reformation sometime in the future is not outside the realm of possibility? I believe the only way to get rid of radical Islam is from within.
Israel v Iran
That Israel possesses nuclear weapons is the worst kept secret in foreign affairs. So, as a foreign policy neophyte, I ask my more knowledgeable readers why can’t the Iran/Israel standoff be resolved this way:
Iran simply says to Israel, “We will stop developing nuclear capability when you demonstrate that you have disarmed your nuclear weapons.” Seems simple enough to me. What am I missing?
Watergate was nothing, a petty burglary gone wrong. The scandal that ensued enshrined the now famous adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime. Despite Richard Nixon’s folly which led to the first resignation of a sitting President, countless politicians have ignored the moral of his story and have fallen into the same trap.
Today we saw one of the great champions of progressive causes self destruct before our eyes. Last week, news first surfaced that New York Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner had sent a lewd photo of himself to a female over Twitter. Weiner denied sending the photo, claiming his account had been hacked. Oddly though, he said that he couldn’t say “with certitude” whether or not the picture depicted him. This inability of Weiner to identify his own fully packed pair of underpants left a suspicious stink over the whole affair. My guess had been that Weiner sent the photo to someone as a gag and it got into the wrong hands.
Today, of course we learned the truth. Not only did the underpants belong to Weiner but he had Tweeted this photo to a young woman in Seattle. Again, ala Richard Nixon, the revelation of wrong-doing was really not the story. The story was the week of bold-faced lying that preceded today’s confessional press conference. Apparently, like Donald Trump’s fictional investigators looking for the truth behind Obama’s birth, Weiner had his own fictional security team dissecting the hacking of his account. Perhaps most grievous of all was that Weiner lent credibility to Andrew Breitbart who had said last week that Weiner’s online behavior was reputed to be beyond the pale.
Weiner says he will not resign. Whether he can get beyond this in the tradition of David Vitter or finally take the fall as John Ensign did weeks ago remains to be seen. What remains even more puzzling is why men from Nixon to Spitzer to Vitter to Craig to Ensign to Clinton to Edwards believe their lies will not be discovered eventually. Mistakes are human. We all make them. Mistakes in and of themselves might not ruin our credibility. The cover-ups always do.
During the 2008 Democratic primary race, Hillary Clinton famously asked who we wanted answering that phone at 3 in the morning when some crisis was in progress.
Saturday Night Live took it a step further and suggested that should Barack Obama get elected, he would be making a 3am phone call to “Senator Clinton” (who knew she’d wind up Secretary of State?) to bail him out of a jam.
I’m sure if Aaron Sorkin had the chance, he would have further twisted the scenario into some sort of “West Wing” TV movie sequel. Here the scene is that Bobby Jones, the first black President has just struck a deal with the opposition party that has everyone popping blood vessels. Bobby’s own party hates him. The opposition realizes how much they gave away and they hate him … heck they hate him anyway. So during a press briefing, Bobby shows up with former President Josiah Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen. Bartlett brings order to chaos and a trembling nation is put at ease. This kind of preposterous plot twist of a sitting President bringing a former President into the press room and then leaving him there to take questions could only happen in a sensationalized fictional story. Right?
Wrong. I’m sad to say, wrong. This Friday, President Barack Obama walked into the White House press briefing room with former President Bill Clinton by his side. After some brief banter, Obama announced he could no longer keep the First Lady waiting (at a staff holiday gathering) and he left the room. Clinton followed him out the door …. eh, no. Clinton stayed behind and talked to the press. Junior left Big Daddy to take care of things.
Watching Obama stand there while Clinton pontificated was embarrassing enough. Seeing him leave the press in Clinton’s hands just made matters ten times worse. If one had awakened from a nine year coma just after Obama left the room, one would have thought it was just another presser with President Clinton. Imagine the surprise of the just-out-of-coma patient when you tell him, no actually it’s been nine years, Clinton is no longer President but the current President feels so ill equipped to handle the current political backlash that he has called in Clinton as reinforcement. It’s enough to send a man back into a coma.
Sorry my friends but it’s time to play the race card. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. What doubly burns me up about this is the racial message this sends to those with messed up antennae. Here is a black man being bailed out by the competent white man. The black apprentice, not really ready for the job, watching with admiration as his white superior takes over. I know Obama believes he and the country are beyond race but that is pure bull crap. The optics of this racially were deadly. The optics of this outside of race were equally deadly. Who is leading the frigging country?
This has been a horrible week for Barack Obama. He struck what was probably the best deal he could strike with the Republicans. Then, allowing his ego to take over, he lashed out at his own party and then likened the opposition party to hostage-takers. He has lost control of the narrative. He is just another participant in the political circus.
Back in 2008 I had a good laugh at the SNL skit. Although I was a staunch Obama supporter, I had to acknowledge the ad was clever, capturing both Obama’s rock star image and Hillary’s over confident self assessment. I would never have believed that if we fast forwarded two years that Obama would indeed be calling in help from a Clinton in such an obvious and embarrassing way.
This time, it wasn’t Hillary. It was Bubba.
It’s harder and harder to be a happy liberal nowadays. I miss the good old days when Republican obstructionism could be blamed for everything. Lately, things seem more off kilter than usual and the GOP has little to with it.
Katrina, wups, The Gulf of Mexico
We’re more than forty days into this and it’s only getting worse. Did Obama cause the well to blow? Of course not. Can Obama fix it? Of course not. With that said, optics are everything and one just doesn’t get a warm fuzzy that the Obama administration has a plan. They’ve put a dude with zero name recognition as their point man on this … I can’t come up with his name as I type this and I’m not gonna Google it to find out. I shouldn’t have to. Some administration big shot who has a reputation with the people should be the mouthpiece for this on a 24/7 basis. Maybe Joe Biden if he’s not too busy? My fellow liberals cringe at the Katrina comparison but I’m sorry, the major factor that this crisis has in common with Katrina is an unconvincing commitment from the Federal government. Yes, with Katrina, lives were lost and property destroyed. With the Gulf, an entire ecosystem is in danger. It’s been called Katrina in slow motion.
Robert Reich, former Clinton Secretary of Labor, suggests forcing BP into receivership so we can control how they allocate resources to fix the problem. Oh, can’t you just see the conservatives losing their lunch over that idea? Obama, the Socialist takes over another company. Watch out private sector, if you screw up in the least, you’ll give the Fed an excuse to take you over. How Reich could suggest this without knowing the likely blow-back is beyond me.
The disappointment here goes beyond politics. It’s yet another sad comment on human nature. BP spends its R&D money on learning how to make more money, not on how to fix major disasters. The result is we have one Rube Goldberg fix after another. As I write this, the saw that was supposed to cut off part of the well apparatus to lessen the stress is now stuck in the well apparatus. It’s the Keystone Kops while sea animals die, Gulf dependent industry falters and the BP CEO says, “I want my life back.”
The other comparison that has been made by pundits is to the Iran hostage crisis of the late 70′s. That crisis, perhaps more than any other, made Jimmy Carter appear impotent and made the climate ripe for a wise old grandfather, Ronald Reagan, to come in and take charge. Obama risks that same label of impotence if he cannot reassure the American public of the government’s ability to problem-solve.
I have no prescription for Obama this time. The only thing he can do is get someone we know and trust (maybe Colin Powell?) in charge of this thing and in front of the cameras so we can at least have the illusion that our government is competent.
Will the whole brouhaha over what job Joe Sestak got offered so he wouldn’t challenge Arlen Specter in the PA Senate primary boil over real fast? Yes, I think it will. Will a special prosecutor be appointed? No, I doubt that will happen. So as a liberal, shouldn’t I be happy that this tempest in a teapot will be yesterday’s old news very shortly? Well, politically, yes I am happy. As a human I’m kinda pissed off.
Let’s start with Sestak himself. What purpose beyond self-aggrandizement was served by Sestak hinting at impropriety on the part of the Obama administration? None. It was a pure ego move on his part. If he wins in November, I don’t see how anyone in the Democratic caucus can trust him. Quite frankly, I find the dude such a self-righteous windbag that if I were a PA resident, I might just vote for Toomey to spite him.
It doesn’t end with Sestak though. Even if we accept the most benign version of this story, namely that Rahm Emanuel dispatched Bill Clinton to offer Sestak a non-paying appointment in exchange for not running, we’re still left with a broken promise. I didn’t vote for Obama to see business as usual in the White House. I thought I was gonna see things cleaned up. No, it’s the same old same old. The only thing worse than conservatives hypocritically jumping on Obama for this, is the sight of liberals abandoning their own moral compass when confronted with corruption. Our message should be loud and clear. This is not a big deal, but it is a big disappointment. We can’t even admit it’s a disappointment.
While I’m on the subject of pure politics, I think it’s high time for Obama and every succeeding President to declare:
While I am in office I will not attend a single solitary fundraiser. My job is to be President, not to get folks elected.
Just about every dumb-ass thing Obama has said in the past 18 months has been at a fundraiser where he totally forgot that his words were being heard by everyone, not just the Democratic insiders in the audience. The week that he flew down to NOLA for the Gulf crisis, he stopped in CA first for a fundraiser. STOP IT! Let Barbara Boxer take care of herself. We need you to run the damn country!
Al and Tipper’s Inconvenient Truth
Israel shoots up a boat, North Korea gets stupid with South Korea, Greece is friggin’ bankrupt and Gary Coleman is dead. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, out of the friggin’ blue, Al Gore and his wife Tipper announce they are separating after 40 years of marriage. I must say this is consistent with Rutherford Lawson Rule #1207, which states:
Couples who are overly affectionate in public places are always suspect.
When Al put that seemingly endless lip-lock on Tipper at the 2000 Democratic Convention my marriage-in-trouble radar went off immediately. It’s only a surprise that it took ten years for the thing to implode. Now the only question is, was Al’s dick to blame? I hope not because I am so sick of politicians and pseudo-politicians letting their gonads run the show.
Maybe I’m just going through a rough time but I don’t see a whole lot to be happy about nowadays when it comes to being a liberal.
Since I only became politically aware within the last two or so years, I’m always hesitant to use the phrase, “I’ve never seen …” but I’ve never seen an administration leave Washington with as much retroactive public relations as that of the Bush administration. It’s even been named by the media as the Bush Legacy Project Tour. We’ve seen the President, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and even the elusive Vice President, Dick Cheney on multiple talk shows proudly proclaiming the victories of the Bush administration. The latest example of this was the President’s final televised address to the nation.
As I watched him, I could see how he could be the target of both sympathy and utter disdain simultaneously. When George Bush says that he always had our country’s best interests at heart, I believe him. I have no reason to doubt that. He comes from a family that has given decades of service to this country. With the exception of relatively minor acts of terrorism (World Trade Center of 2/23/93, and Oklahoma City) our country had not sustained a direct attack from an enemy since Pearl Harbor and then September 11 came. Bush was faced with an unprecedented loss of life on our shores, lives taken not from a warring country but from a nebulous network of international thugs. Conservatives are right when they say that most Americans in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 would have given Bush carte blanche to make sure this never happened again.
Was the appropriate way to end WWII and avenge Pearl Harbor to drop two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 and bring an horrific end to the lives of many innocent civilians? President Harry Truman did what he thought best for his country. He stands much higher in history then he did immediately upon leaving office. Bush made terrible choices in response to 9/11 but he did so to protect his country. This is where I do feel a sympathy for him. I find his exit from the world stage a sad one. I’m annoyed by folks who say they want to prosecute him for war crimes. I feel he should just be left alone.
But then I listen to some of what Bush says in his farewell address and the disdain starts to creep in. Not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a “disappointment” to Bush. On MSNBC’s “Hardball”, Chris Matthews gave a brilliant analogy. When a cop sees a man reaching for his wallet and shoots and kills him because he thought the man was reaching for a gun, he doesn’t say “I’m disappointed that the man didn’t have a gun.” He says that he’s sorry he made a terrible mistake in judgement. Instead of regretting his decision based on faulty intelligence, Bush only regrets that the intelligence didn’t justify his decision. He’s happy with the decision and unhappy that he can’t justify it. When you hear this kind of logic you just want to slap the guy.
Bush angrily told a reporter at his last press conference that the government response to Katrina was not slow. He pointed to thousands of people being rescued from rooftops by “chopper drivers” (apparently George forgot the word “pilot”) as evidence of the government’s effective response, as support of his original assessment of “Good job Brownie”. His regrets about Katrina seem limited to whether or not he availed himself of a photo-op during the crisis. He seems oblivious to the fact that thousands were stranded without clean water and care in the immediate aftermath of the flood and that to this day many are still displaced. You watch Bush talk about this stuff and you say “the man just doesn’t get it.” You want to shake him and wake him up.
It is hard to look at the Bush presidency and come away with any sort of success story. To some extent, his administration was a victim of circumstance but sometimes it is not what happens to you but how you react to it that shapes public and historical opinion. I don’t blame Bush for 9/11 even though it happened on his watch. I do blame him for attacking the wrong country. I don’t blame him for Katrina. I do blame him for not taking the role of an empathetic leader at the time and not mobilizing his government to take proper action.
I believe the final assessment of George W. Bush is that he was a man not ready to be President, faced with challenges even the greatest of Presidents would have found daunting. He did his best but within his limitations, his best was no where good enough. Just as he wishes Barack Obama well, I wish him well. I hope he has a peaceful retirement and finds a way to use the role of ex-President to help the world in much the same way that Jimmy Carter, George-41, and Bill Clinton have.
I think given the choice between sympathy and disdain, I fall on the side of sympathy. I think we should let George W. Bush return quietly to citizen Bush and allow history to judge him in good time. That will be more than enough punishment for his sins.
There hasn’t been much fire in the primetime, network covered portions of the Democratic Convention so far. Kerry’s speech which had bite didn’t get a full TV airing (unless perhaps you were watching CSPAN). Biden’s speech had moderate bite but did not hit hard enough.
That brings us to William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States. The night before, his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton urged her followers to back Obama but she never explicitly revised her previous stance that he was not experienced enough to hold the office. Still, as I said in a previous post, I think she did what she had to do. Bill came dangerously close to blowing it. When he said that Obama’s judgement combined with Biden’s experience and knowledge would make a great team, I sat there holding my breath. Was he really going to feed the McCain propaganda machine with the implication that we had an upside down ticket with a VP nominee more fit to be President than the guy at the top of the ticket?
So how did Bill pull his speech out of the ditch? Towards the end of the speech, he said that Barack’s experience predicament reminded him of a Presidetial candidate who ran in 1992. That candidate was none other than himself, Bill Clinton. With that comparison, he essentially said that the experience attacks of the McCain campaign are irrelevant. The only other thing that could have happened to top this would have been for Barack to join Bill on stage and give him a hug! (Obama did make an appearance later after Biden’s address.)
With the Obama-Clinton feud apparently over, the PUMA’s and their ilk now look sillier than ever. Now we need to conclude this convention, stop playing nice, and tear McCain limb from limb.