Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I don't know about you guys, but the most exciting development for me so far in the primaries has been McCain's victory in New Hampshire and possible resurgence. I've long thought that the key to bringing sanity back to American politics lies with the GOP--as long as the psycho wing of that party is in control, there's just not that much that can be done to improve things. I think Obama might just frighten the GOP establishment enough to prompt them to accept McCain. Now that DeLay, Rove and several similar folks have been shown the door, we're really just waiting for the clock to run out on Bush and Cheney. Even if they are replaced by a Republican administration, things will improve dramatically both at home and abroad if that administration is a McCain administration.

Though I disagree with McCain on a long list of important policy issues, at least he's a man worthy of respect and worthy of the office of President. I could not only live with him as President, I could be happy about it. (That is, at least if I put Supreme Court nominations out of my head temporarily.)

That having been said, I do still think it's important to elect a Democrat this time around. Since Congress is not going to do the right thing and impeach Bush (note: as always, I'm merely pointing out that he should be impeached; I don't know whether or not he should be convicted), I think it's important for the country that there at least be an electoral repudiation of the administration. Furthermore, I think there is so much (righteous) anger among Dems that a Republican victory might drive them over the edge. Just about the last thing we need is to finally get a sane, competent Republican President, only to have the Dems flip out and start acting like the CDS wing of the GOP acted during the Clinton years.

But those considerations are fairly speculative.

Anyway, it sure would be great to see two smart, admirable, sane,
civil candidates in the general election. Perhaps unsurprisingly I'm mostly thinking of Obama here for the Dems. (I'm still mourning for Dodd, but a large part of my heart has been tugging me Obama-ward for quite some time now.) I fear that McCain would beat Obama, and I think that would be a sub-optimal outcome...but merely sub-optimal will look like political paradise after the last seven years.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I remember saying about a year ago I'd be happy with McCain as president [even tho he often departs from conservative philosophy] if it would get America, left and right [the folks I work with lean left] off each other's throats.

I'm sick of all this, too.

Now, when you write

I've long thought that the key to bringing sanity back to American politics lies with the GOP...

without getting into strict disagreement, a look at the GOP field shows McCain and Giuliani with established maverick credentials, Romney managing to get hisself elected governor of the only state that George McGovern carried, and Christianist Mike Huckabee more a believer in government as the solution to people's problems than any Republican in recent memory.

[I, of course, support Fred, who, altho a down-the-line conservative, is at least mellow, and also has not even a snowball's chance.]

So, the GOP has already de facto done its part. On the other side, only HRC could possibly be construed as center-left rather than simply left, and that takes a bit of mental creativity.

And from what I see in the headlines, Herself and Sen. Obama are getting ready to take the gloves off. Not mellow.

But if Obama prevails as the Dem nominee, there's a chilling possibilty that any legitimate criticism of his candidacy might be seen as racially insensitive or offensive or divisive or whatever. Donna Brazile made that charge against Bill Clinton His Ownself today.

This all might get a helluva lot uglier before it get prettier.

[Me, if Obama slapped Brazile down in a Sista Soulja moment and gave ex-President Clinton's remarks a pass as histrionic but legitimate campaign fare, he might win my vore, his Senate voting record being identical to Ted Kennedy's notwithstanding.]

10:00 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, the Republicans have been (by far) responsible for most of the divisiveness in American politics since the Clinton administration. So it would be weird (and perhaps admirable--though perhaps just cowardly) if the Dems didn't strike back in kind at some point. Though liberals--whatever their other failings might be--are less inclined to that particular vice. We should also expect fluctuations, and for the Dems to at least sometimes be the more divisive party. Is the current crop of Republicans less divisive than the current crop of Dems? I see no reason to think so. Whereas the Dems would be well within their rights to strike back with their own campaign of Rovian divisiveness, we get instead Obama, the candidate most committed to unity of any I remember in my life. McCain's credentials there are good, too (though we should note: it's easy to ask everybody to let bygones be bygones when your side is the one that did the wrong). HRC, too, seems committed to running to the center--though her husband did that and the right flipped out on him.

The stuff about construing attacks against Obama as racism is a completely different point. It's a worry, though secondary, I'd say, but not a huge one. It's a little odd--though I don't know what else to say about it--to get *too* picky about such things when *actual* racism is still such a big problem.

Lastly, "maverick" is different than "unifier." Giuliani is a funny case, but a uniter he isn't. Though that may just show that this discussion needs to be divided into two different discussions.

Anyway, it sure would be great to see Obama vs. McCain. I'm sure it wouldn't be a love fest through and through, but it'd be a big step in the right direction.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, I was speaking substantively, as in the top GOPers all have quantifiable nods to the center. We can say that only of HRC, occasionally on foreign policy.

Of course we're all invited to unify under Obama's banner, which politically strays not a whit from down-the-line left/liberalism.

Or as you previously put it, the Time When People of All Faiths Can Come Together and Worship Jesus Christ.

[That did make me laugh and I wanted to acknowledge it.]

4:36 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

the top GOPers all have quantifiable nods to the center.

I would love to see what qualifies as a nod to the center. Is there anything other than Giuliani's abortion straddle? (He's "pro-choice", but he'll appoint judges, that nudge-nudge-wink-wink will strike down Roe v. Wade.) That "center"?

11:45 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Actually, I was quoting Bart Simpson with with the "people of all faiths...Jesus Christ" line...that always freakin' cracks me up, too.

Well, as I was saying before, it's usually possible to find SOME way in which the more divisive party is less divisive. In this case, IF we define 'centrist' in a certain contentious way, AND we say that running more centrist candidates counts as being unifying, THEN we could say that in this one way, the GOP is, right now, being the less divisive party. Again, it takes lots of squinting, and you've got to pick out your measure very carefully.

This GOP crop seems less divisive than Bush, but that's setting the bar rather low. Other than Edwards, both the Dem candidates could count as non-divisive, for different reasons. So at worst, there's rough parity on even this measure.

Furthermore, you don't have to be a centrist to be committed to being non-divisive. Look at McCain--very conservative, but committed to unifying the country, and beloved by many liberals largely for that.

Giuliani, on the other hand, has many liberal policies, but is apparently prepared to be as nasty as he has to be (and, perhaps, then some).

The main point is this: since at least the beginning of the Clinton administration, the GOP has been the more divisive party. That's not to say that there haven't been some ways in which the Dems have occasionally out done them, but overall the trend is clear. So the real key to ending this lies with the GOP. Of course if Dems suddenly wigged out when the GOP got reasonable, then we'd have the same problem again.

And I don't think this should even be a controversial point. This was Karl Rove's trademark strategy: divide, divide, divide.

This isn't to say that the GOP has been wrong in all ways, of course. But they HAVE been the more divisive of the two parties.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm getting the impression it's your opinion that the GOP has been more divisive of the two parties.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Though with Rove et. al. gone, and should McCain win, that could, conceivably, change.

9:25 AM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

The complicity of Washington Republicans with the Bushist politics is a mile wide and a mile deep. Their political apparatus is thoroughly infected with the Rovian way of doing things. Heck, it didn't even start with Rove.

Electing McCain would change none of this.

The only thing that can possibly reform American government back to its Constitutional form is a clear rejection of Bushism, and that requires election of a non-Republican, practically speaking a Democrat.

Even that is no guarantee.

2:59 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

A little academic blogpimping: McCain's culpability for the Bushist mess.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Get a head start: Impeach McCain!

7:22 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Only in the non-Constitutional sense.

Or, if that's not snarky enough: What? Did he get a blow job?

7:36 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, that's the prevailing narrative, instead of giving misleading testimony [which he finally admitted to doing] in a civil proceeding, which was the actual charge. But his defenders are passionate that it was about the BJ, so it's pointless to discuss it.

I'm also on record that the GOP power play of impeaching him was bad for the country. I do not believe statesmen should be so committed to absolute justice that they try to extract their pound of flesh. The good of the country must come first.

That said, the GOP actions aside, I think Clinton should have resigned and spared the nation and especially his family the embarrassment of the details coming out, specifically the dress, the irregularity of the sexual relationship---by his own account, it wasn't exactly a love affair, which I personally would find more humanly understandable---and his ill-use of that very young woman with a cigar.

In the least, he should not have [hubristically?] contested the Paula Jones lawsuit, and simply ignored it. He ended up paying her $850K anyway, surrendered his law license for 5 years, was found in contempt of court for his evasiveness and ordered to pay $90K to Jones' lawyers by a federal judge. I doubt that not contesting the suit would have come out much worse.

Had he chosen that course, fewer sordid details and perhaps none would have come out. I also tend to believe he was indeed a serial sexual harasser, which is why the Lewinsky matter was dragged in, in the first place, to establish his pattern.

Riddle me this, Batman---Was Jones' description of the Clenis ever proved inaccurate?

In any case, carrying on with Monica Lewinsky while he was being sued for sexual harassment was imprudent to say the least.

Was his misleading testimony an impeachable offense? In reality, well, they impeached him. Theoretically? The Senate saw it as below the threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors," and I agree with that, too. In fact, it was the cooler heads in the GOP that made the whole thing go away after only 2 days of testimony and little in the way of details. As I recall, the statemanlike GOP senators who drive that were Bob Dole, and...John McCain.

The ironic result of the GOP's machinations was that they took more blame than Clinton did for his actions, and that's fair. But from his defenders, he gets no blame at all, just a snigger and a high five. But he hurt his country too.

9:28 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Lots of factoids to argue in your prurient nostalgia, TVD, but that is truly pointless. You'll just blame Clinton for what happened, passive voice, as if there was no Republican conspiracy to undo the election by any sordid means necessary. As if you wouldn't have been there sniffing the cigar and seeing how the semen stain caught the light, too.

As it happens, I wrote a newspaper column in real time condemning the lie. Don't believe me? I couldn't care less. In any case, from what I see, nearly all liberals also condemn Clinton's sexual forays, but we're tired of all your convenient forgetting and disproportionality.

Suffice it to say that if we Democrats were the kind of people you claim we are - if we were the kind of people the Republicans by their behavior proved that they actually are - we would have trumped up a political lawsuit against Duhbya to show your favorite amoral Washingtonian idiots exactly what that's like. How do you think the Supreme Court would have dealt with the Clinton precedent? Another special one-time-only succor-the-Bushes so-called legal ruling? Probably.

So my joke stands. I won't explain it or try to make you think it's funny or that your defense against it is ridiculous. I'll just laugh at you.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Chockful of quotes, from all across the political spectrum. This is how Washington, friend and foe alike, really felt when it all went down, before the impeachment.

The politics of the impeachment aside---those who derailed it for the good of the republic, those who sought political advantage, and those who excused his behavior for their own partisan reasons, inventing new rules about what's excusable if sex is involved---the nation was angry that, as someone in the link above said, Bill Clinton precipitated the first sex scandal in the 200-year history of the presidency.

He did it, nobody else.

And perhaps my greatest anger at Clinton is that he sent his wife out to lie for him.

I also recall seeing on TV Clinton dragging out some members of his government to defend him in this personal matter, but I can't find the right google words to find it, so any help would be appreciated from the fair-minded hereabouts: Foggy memory has it outdoors [the White House lawn?], and perhaps Gore, Albright and/or Shalala there getting his back.

I have to wonder, if the House GOP hadn't overplayed its hand by impeaching him and turned him into a heroic defender of the constitution and the presidency, if anyone in 2008 would even give this man the time of day.

I hope the folks hereabouts will read those quotes in the link. Beyond the partisan politics and the current [permanent] crisis, the truth, the reality, of the whole thing as it happened lies therein.

10:18 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Oh, for those halcyon days when you could obsess about all that. Those were the days!

10:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

True. They were stupid and careless times, when you could diddle the help in the Oval Office or impeach a president for next to nothing.

As if you wouldn't have been there sniffing the cigar and seeing how the semen stain caught the light, too.

I have two words for this argument, sir. Ug and Lee. But I can handle your crudity.

Even if I had been there sniffing and seeing, I'd have resigned my office before I'd let my daughter endure the resulting international humiliation for the rest of her life.

You don't think there's a reason the Clintons' daughter doesn't want to talk to the press? She should be the world's Golden Girl right now.

You keep trying to turn this back into merely sex, but I'll argue this on any level you want.

But it wasn't about sex. It was about decency and honor. Bill Clinton dishonored his office, himself, his family, and the nation. A decent man, even if he'd fallen prey to his desires, would have made a graceful exit.

Even Richard Nixon did better.

11:29 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Ooh, crocodile tears for Chelsea now that crocodile tears for Hillary are no longer useful. As if the humiliation had not already happened. As if people like you wouldn't be forever keeping it alive.

Funny, it's never the fault of the humiliators. Much better to blame the victims. That keeps alive the manipulative possibility of continued government by scandal-mongering.

All this because you made a vapid remark about impeaching McCain...

12:11 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Actually, it was an extension of the thread above this one, and that you brought up the BJ here. I have no desire to keep it alive.

Clinton's humiliators, the House managers and even Newt Gingrich, are gone from public office. I think that's fair. They hurt the country, too.

But Clinton was a perpetrator himself. His defenders cast him as victim and have ended up giving him a pass, and that was my point.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's in kind of an unrelated article, but there seems to be some evidence here that most people disagree with you Tom:

"On September 25, 1998, Bill Clinton's approval rating was 67%. It had shot up from 61% right after the public got a good hard look at Bill Clinton's videotaped testimony about his relations with Ms. Lewinsky.

The apparent resurgence for Mr. Clinton has come swiftly -- and is surprisingly pronounced. Not only has the months long slide in his personal ratings halted but, in a marked shift from only a week ago, Americans also trust him more as a leader, like him more, are less inclined to think he committed perjury before the grand jury and increasingly believe that the scandal is a private matter that has little to do with his job as President... 78 percent of Americans, and 65 percent of Republicans, said [the videotape] should never have been released. People said they objected to the committee's prying into what they regard as a private matter and that it was unnecessary to make public salacious details about sex. In addition, 65 percent of Americans said Republicans in Congress were unfairly trying to weaken the President and the Democrats; 39 percent of Republicans saw it that way as well. The New York Times September 25, 1998
Also, 60% of Americans said it was appropriate for the President to refuse to answer questions about his sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. At the time, House Speaker Newt Gingrich's approval was 18%."


Now, it's not dispositive, since what we're really talking about here are ethical and moral judgments, which are decidedly subjective. However, if you believe it was Clinton who "dishonored his office, himself, his family, and the nation", then you're clearly in the minority.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, I agree with everything you posted. It's undeniable his polls were high when he left office. The GOP overplaying its hand turned him into a hero, which is perverse, but understandable.

What they did was worse, and far more damaging to the country than what he did. But in the confusion, he got a pass, and I tried to emphasize the non-political aspects of his behavior, like perhaps being actually guilty in the Jones matter, not resigning and letting the lurid details come out, and of the imprudence of fighting the Jones case in the first place.

Also sending his [poor] wife out to lie for him, and if I'm right about him using members of the government, that's probably the worst thing of all.

The prevailing retort is that Clinton was impeached for a BJ, but saying he was impeached for sticking a cigar up a young employee's hoo-hah makes him look considerably less sympathetic.

I don't think it's a stretch to say he dishonored his office, himself, his family, and the nation. The irony is that I believe his standing would be much lower if the GOP hadn't gone after him. Perhaps that's the greatest lesson on impeachment in general.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well overall I certainly don't think Clinton was blameless, but we can apportion blame differently based on our own perceptions and values.

However, I don't blame him at all for the impeachment specifically, since that wasn't his doing. And I disagree that he should have resigned; his boorish behavior is in my mind no reason to undo an election in which he was chosen as the executive of our country. Resigning would have represented a short-changing of those of us who voted for him.

Whatever disrepute or ignominy he brought on his family is between him and his family, IMHO. They seem to still love him and accept him with all of his faults. Why any of that should bear on his ability to serve as a chief executive I just don't understand. There's also the possibility that had there been no impeachment proceedings afoot, he never would have brought out all the *character witnesses*.

9:32 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Actually, it was an extension of the thread above this one, and that you brought up the BJ here. I have no desire to keep it alive.

TVD, here's the thing: You've spent all this effort arguing with a joke, a joke that was labelled snark.

Shame on me for rebutting your arguments instead of more wise-cracking. Oh, wait, I did make jokes in most of my subsequent posts, and you kept arguing chapter and verse of the Ken Starr bible with your usual great facility for forgetting anything inconvenient to your resignation fantasies.

A much more productive exchange between us (not saying much) would have gone something like this (take either role, I don't care):

"Blow me."

"But you'll lie about it."

"Only to protect your reputation."

"Sure, your reputation has nothing to do with it."

"I'm only concerned with getting back to work."

"You're not concerned with me?"

"I won't be allowed to admit that."


This is known to those who know it as banter.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, I knew it was a joke, such as it was. I just used it as a jumpoff point as I took a look at l'affaire Lewinsky 10 years later. It's not as if I expected to hear anything but the formulaic narrative that Clinton was impeached for a BJ, although some of the crudity went past that.

As for owing a duty to those who voted for him, his resignation would have not only have benefited the nation, but his party as well, which he left a shambles. President Gore would likely have won the 2000 election, as the country would have had a chance to get used to his mookiness.

There's a case against him even from the Democrat point of view, and it's fairly identical to the one I've been making.

And again, anonymous, I have no problem with your disagreement, and recognize mine is the minority view. We agree about the impeachment itself completely. I do have a problem that Ken Starr has become a bigger villain than Clinton; the former did his duty, Clinton failed his. As for the folks behind the impeachment, I do assign them the greatest villainy, altho there is no excuse for Clinton using others to cover for him, even as "character witnesses," since he did indeed commit the acts and then give the misleading testimony he was accused of.

I can certainly understand Clinton fighting the impeachment once it went down, and even agree with fighting it since the impeachment itself was scurrilous; my point would be that he should have resigned before that, before the dog-and-pony show he put his family, friends, and the nation through.

But let's make no mistake---we can be sure Mr. Clinton's family is very unhappy about the whole thing. They stood by him because that's what families do. And, of course, had Clinton resigned, there would be no HRC, no Senator Clinton, just Former First Lady Hillary Rodham, sitting in well-deserved obscurity.

4:10 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

I just used it as a jumpoff point as I took a look at l'affaire Lewinsky 10 years later.

Sounds like a guilty plea to the high crime of thread-hijacking. Call Henry Hyde's two-timing ghost!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

You opened the door with the tiresome BJ nonsense. Since WS is on hiatus and nothing intelligent was being written anyway, I walked through it.

I came up with a decent thesis, a slightly different view of the whole thing, and had a civil discussion with anonymous, so it wasn't a waste of time.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're a lot closer on the other stuff than the resignation thing. Mostly because I think the American people have the right to expect that the President will continue in the job he was hired to do, notwithstanding the fact that people disapproved of his personal conduct.

Resigning would have elevated the desire to minimize his and his family's personal embarrassment (as well as the Republicans' desires for his scalp) above his duty to fulfill the obligation he swore to when inaugurated.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, but could he---did he---fulfill that obligation? This was a mess of his own making after all, and we have limited the discussion to what happened before the impeachment.

Was he able to be effective, to fulfill his duty in the office he had already dishonored?

Robert Reich, who was Clinton's labor secretary in his first term, can't understand how Clinton could have taken such a risk. "In retrospect," he says, "the pattern becomes clear. It makes the recklessness less understandable. Given the danger this has posed to his presidency, you'd think he'd take extra precautions against this compulsion. It makes his apology less credible. If this is a pattern, why should anybody believe it will change?

"We have a seriously crippled president for the next two years," says Reich. "He'll have a few good moments, he'll go through the motions, there will be adoring crowds, he'll use his bully pulpit and maybe he will have something he can call a victory. But essentially it's over."

That was from before the impeachment, mind you, but Reich was prescient, the irony being that the impeachment may have raised Clinton's effectiveness and ability to lead a bit, as he was now the victim and not the villain.

6:55 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

I'm tiresome? Riiight.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

No, what you tend to say is tiresome, because it's formulaic. If I droned on with the GOP boilerplate about why the impeachment was justified, that would be tiresome, too.

But the notion that the nation---and the Democratic Party---would have been better off if Clinton had resigned, well, that's something I seldom if ever hear considered or debated.

And he's rather making a hash of it lately [altho I rather agree with him: welcome to media bias], but that's another discussion.

4:11 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

No, you! So's your old man. Your mama wears... Whatever.

As for debating the positive effects on the Democratic Party of a Clinton resignation almost a decade ago, I'll leave that to concern trolls everywhere. Others might judge their sincerity by whether they debate how much it might help the Republican Party for Duhbya to have resigned, oh, seven years ago to spare his Party - and his nation - the shame of his misgovernance all this time. But frankly, that would be wankery, too, so I don't care.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

My mother's dead, Lovable. But thanks for asking.

6:32 AM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

I'm sorry about your mother, TVD.

In this thread, it serves me right to satirize your descent into "no, you" with my own facetious descent. Could have been funny but in this case wasn't.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

That's OK, man. I accept your semi-apology. Mebbe we'll all learn how to play nice, or at least nicer, when McCain or Obama is president.

I doubt it, but I have trouble holding a grudge. Live long and prosper.

9:32 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home