Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clintons Sink in Their Own Muck

Paul here...

I'm abandoning the Good Ship Clinton. (And I wrote those words last week, before the Kennedy Clan likewise lowered the lifeboats).

I voted twice for Bill Clinton and yes, I believe there was a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" to deflate Priapic Bill.

But now, this man of enormous ability and unquenchable appetites has flushed his legacy down the drain. His has trashed his own status as a latter-day statesman and ambassador of good will. The ex-prez has become a red-faced, clownish used car salesman, twisting customers' arms and bad-mouthing the competition across the street. Sort of like Kurt Russell in "Used Cars," but better dressed and not as charming.

The Clintons have misrepresented both Obama's statements about Ronald Reagan and his stand on abortion. Their surrogates have dredged up his youthful drug use and have gleefully inserted his middle name, "Hussein," into their propaganda. The two-on-one bullying doesn't help the Clintons' image, either.

Even old admirers are shocked by the Clinton's destroy-the-village-to-save-the-election strategy. Here's Jonathan Chait, liberal wordsmith and a senior editor at the "New Republic," writing in the "Los Angeles Times":

"Am I starting to sound like a Clinton hater? It's a scary thought. Of course, to conservatives, it's a delicious thought. The Wall Street Journal published a gloating editorial noting that liberals had suddenly learned "what everyone else already knows about the Clintons." (By "everyone," it means Republicans.)

It made me wonder: Were the conservatives right about Bill Clinton all along? Maybe not right to set up a perjury trap so they could impeach him, but right about the Clintons' essential nature?"

And here's conservative writer Peggy Noonan, writing in the "Wall Street Journal" in a piece, melodically entitled, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do."

"The Clintons are tearing the party apart. It will not be the same after this. It will not be the same after its most famous leader, and probable ultimate victor, treated a proud and accomplished black man who is a U.S. senator as if he were nothing, a mere impediment to their plans. And to do it in a way that signals, to his supporters, How dare you have the temerity, the ingratitude, after all we've done for you?"

I think the talented Jim Morin got it right the other day with this cartoon in The Miami Herald.

I'm done.

I'm through.

You can sink in your own muck. I won't vote for Bill-ary in the general election.

My daughter, Wendy, disapproves of the foregoing. Possessing a more temperate personality than her father, here's her article, "Pearls, Tears, & Pantsuits: Why America Needs a Female President," from the Mommy Tracked website.

Many years ago, I was a newspaper reporter. A bit later, I was the "legal commentator" for two Miami television stations. My daughter and son are both journos. Before each went off to what we used to call J-School, I warned that they'd get a lot of shit in their chosen fields. Here's a young TV reporter at work. I rest my case.



  1. Couldn't agree with you more re: Bill-ary. It's depressing.

    And that news guy? He should've definitely seen the SECOND one coming...

  2. Well....
    Let's just say as a self-avowed knee-jerk, bleeding-heart liberal, that I'm not at all convinced that it's Bill & HIllary who are going to "rip the Democratic party apart."

    In my experience, the Democratic party is entirely capable of doing that on its own.

  3. Paul.
    Good post.

    I think Clinton was a good president. That being said, I wouldn't call it a "perjury trap". It was perjury. I wouldn't care except we rposecute people for that.

    I do wish he'd tone it down. I'm interested inhis wife now, not him.

    If I said that about someone else it wouldn't sound right.


  4. I'll add, before any comments: No, he should not have been impeached. But neither should it be dismissed. He lied under oath. Civil testimony or criminal testimony, you either abide by the oath or not.

    Sorry to go on.


  5. I make this prayer every day:

    Please don't make me vote for Hillary.

    I can't do it. I just can't do it.

  6. I've never been a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but some of the attacks against her have been so ridiculous (OMG! She didn't tip her waitress! Wait, she did...but she tipped TOO MUCH! OMG! ) that I've found myself defending her more than I ever thought I would.

    But yeah, this I can't defend. From her enabling vote for the Iraq War to her more recent vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment to push us closer to making the same mistake with Iran, Senator Clinton has rolled over and played dead every time she even THOUGHT a vote might make Republicans talk mean about her.

    To slam Obama for making a perfectly accurate comment about how Reagan changed America (not necessarily for the better) is more than a little hypocritical.

  7. Actually Jim, it wasn't perjury under the legal definition of that crime. Perjury is (1) lying (2) under oath, (3) about a "material fact" in the case. That's the Federal perjury statute.

    In her order dismissing Jones V. Clinton, the judge specifically stated that whether or not Monica Lewinsky or others had consensual sex with Clinton was not material: One final matter concerns alleged suppression of pattern and practice evidence. ["Pattern and practice" was how the Plaintiff contended that asking Clinton about Lewinsky was relevant in the first place] Whatever relevance such evidence may have to prove other elements of plaintiff's case, it does not have anything to do with the issues presented by the President's and Ferguson's motions for summary judgment, i.e., whether plaintiff herself was the victim of alleged quid pro quo or hostile work environment sexual harassment, whether the President and Ferguson conspired to deprive her of her civil rights, or whether she suffered emotional distress so severe in nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.

    Lying? Yes, and that was certainly wrong. Perjury? No.

    As I'm sure you're aware, Jim, all the elements have to be in place to find someone guilty of a crime.

  8. As a distant observer, I'm wondering why Hillary didn't notice that even if she lost, she would be Obama's likely running mate. I'm far from a person to judge someone solely on the base of their gender, but I would think that a woman VP in the White House would be nearly as good as a woman President.

    I think she would have a lot of bridge-rebuilding to do now before that pairing might happen.

    Interesting. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the attorneys here argue about the definistion of "perjury". I've always felt that a lie is a lie.

  9. I thank J.D. Rhoades, a North Carolina lawyer as well as an outstanding novelist, for raising the level of legal awareness on our blog. In fact, I'm sending J.D.'s post to the Harvard Law Review for publication. And I'm submitting J.D.'s name to President Barack Obama for nomination to the Supreme Court.

    However...one of the reasons people dislike lawyers is because of our insistence on slicing the onion so thin. Many folks would see the "material fact" element of perjury as a mere technicality. (I know, I know. Many people think the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures is a "technicality.")

    One unfortunate aspect of Bill Clinton's recent foray into name-calling is that it reminds us of his earlier boners (Har!), whether criminal or just plain sleazy.

  10. I'm with your daughter here, Paul. I want ovaries in the Oval Office. Enough of this willy waving. 200 years of that crap is plenty, mon.

  11. This is just one reason why I'm a print reporter!

  12. J.D.

    I stand corrected. But you hit on the point. Was it right? I'm not a lawyer so I'm opposed to lying.

    Sorry, had to throw that in.

    I still don't see where it was a trap.


  13. Of course, being from the Detroit area, I'm fascinated with the discussion of perjury, since it's been all over the news (Channel 7 refers to it as: "Sex, Lies and Texting.")

    About 5 or 6 years ago, Mayor Kwame "My House Is Out Of Order" Kilpatrick, and his chief of staff, testified in court on a whistleblower trial. Among the things they were asked on the witness stand was whether or not they were having an affair. (That seems sort of off the subject, but if I remember correctly the trial had to do with Detroit police being used as security for while sex parties or something at the Manoogian Mansion (which if you're from the area and ever listened to WCSX, probably can't help but think of it as the "Boogeyin' Mansion" but I digress).

    Anyway, both Kwame and his love interest said no, of course not, that's ridiculous.

    Then only this week The Detroit Free Press recovered about 14,000 text messages they passed to each other where it was clear, either they were having an affair or they were really into sex-texting. Therefore, perjury.

    So what's gonna happen? Not much, from the way it's going, although Trial by Media seems to be occurring now. When asked by the judge who tried the case, he more or less laughed, said he'd wish he'd known it at the time, it was up to the Chief Judge and the state Attorney General (who got in some hot water recently over his affairs), and to-date the AG hasn't said much of anything and neither has the CJ.

    I wonder if they won't bother to prosecute because they don't think they'll get a conviction.

    Time will tell.

  14. Has the world we live in which is obsessed with our children's self-esteem to the point that everyone gets a trophy for showing up, now taken over the world of politics, too.

    Poor Senator Obama is coming under attack by his opponent. Tell him and his supporters to quit whining and fight back. What do you think is going to happen in November when he's running against a Republican? Is he going to send Rush Limbaugh to his room for a "time out"?

    Why is the only candidate with balls the female one? I'm not interested in a metrosexual President. No surprise Oprah backs this guy. I want someone who wants the job passionately and understands it's a rough world out there. I don't need someone who wants to apologize to everyone from France to Russia.

    Hilary knows enough about economics, enough about building alliances in Congress, and enough about scaring the people who get in her way to be a good President.

    If anyone believes that John F. Obama is above the special interests, then they must believe 200 million dollars in campaign funds grows on trees.

  15. The Detroit fiasco Mark Terry writes about is featured in the Los Angeles Times today.

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when we fail to delete all our text messages.

  16. COME ON!!! Are you kidding me?? Lying about a BJ? Can any of you remember the state of our economy with Clinton as our Prez?? I am thrilled that we get Bill with Hillary....living in Florida, I have voted for her already.

  17. BRILLIANT! I know a few folks who worked for the Clintons-- some of whom were among the "left in the dirt with huge legal bills" & long forgotten now.
    Obama is a graduate of Punaho, Columbia U. & Harvard Law, his wife is an honors grad of Princeton & Harvard. Obama has run what seems refreshing -- a clean campaign about issues. They seem like a team who would present a terrific image of hope and change for the better to the world -- imagine Bill back in the WH?! Bill seems to have missed that HE is NOT the candidate.

  18. (email from a former WH Clinton Staffer)
    As Super Tuesday draws near, I thought I would share with my extended family my thinking on the Democratic candidates, especially in light of a recent event I attended. Apologies for burdening you with my private ruminations and especially to any of you who may be voting Republican (if you are, I think McCain is the man, even though I disagree with him on all sorts of stuff). You can just delete this e-mail!

    As some of you may know, I was a very enthusiastic Obama supporter early last year after reading both of his books back-to-back over the Xmas holidays. In particular, Dreams of my Father is an incredibly moving and well-written book about trying to find oneself in our complicated world (thanks Steph for giving it to me way back when), and I would recommend it to everyone, especially those of you who are still trying to get a handle on who this Obama guy is.

    Nevertheless, over the course of the summer and a few of the initial debates, my Obama enthusiasm had begun to fade a bit, and I became concerned that he just doesn't have the necessary experience at this stage to become President. We don't have the luxury of having someone who will have to learn on the job. Since then, I had been waffling a bit between Clinton and Obama.

    On Thursday night, I attended an Obama fundraiser here in Geneva with Samantha Power (she was passing through after speaking at Davos) which helped to end my waffling. Power is a very impressive and articulate 37-year-old former journalist turned Harvard professor who is best known for having written a book several years ago called "A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide", which won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, among other things. She has since been very active in the campaign to stop the genocide in Darfur and has written a couple of impressive pieces on counter-terrorism policy. She also is one of Obama's closest foreign policy advisors. (Aside: the event was hosted by a well-to-do American lawyer (Hogan and Hartson) in his apartment facing on the St. Pierre cathedral square (the heart of the old town in Geneva ) -- his back terrace had a panoramic view of downtown Geneva and the lake. Wow!)

    Power began her pitch by talking about how she had met Obama. Although they both graduated from Harvard Law School , they only met after Obama was elected to the Senate. Soon after his election, one of Obama's senior aides called Power to tell her that he had just finished reading her book on genocide over the Xmas break and that he was interested in talking to her in greater depth. Would she be willing to meet with the Senator the next time she was in DC? Power did go to DC soon thereafter and a scheduled 45-minute meeting with Obama lasted for several hours. By the end of the meeting, Power was so impressed by Obama's curiosity, intellect and commitment that she asked whether she could "intern" for him. She got a sabbatical from Harvard and then spent roughly a year and a half working closely with him as one of his foreign policy advisors. Based on that experience, she has become one of the key advisors and supporters of his campaign for President.

    She said that she asked Obama early on whether he intended to run for President in 2008, and he said no. He felt that he didn't have the experience, and he didn't want to put his wife and young kids through the exposure and risks of a run for the Presidency. But he ultimately decided to do so (after much encouragement from others) because he and others felt he had the ability to bring the country together in a way that others could not (i.e. Hillary). Perhaps any Presidential contender would say such a thing, but the fact that he does have such little expereince on the national level suggests to me that it is true in his case. For those concerned about his relative lack of political experience at the national level (important to keep in mind that he was a member of the Illinois State legislature for 8 years), Power talked about the important experiences Obama has had as a community organizer, civil rights lawyer and constitutional law professor. Because of this, he knows first-hand about the nitty-gritty challenges that average people face, whether they live in the ghetto or a small village in Africa (where his grandmother continues to live).

    But what impressed me most about her description of Obama was the honest, patient, sensitive and transparent way in which he goes about grappling with and then trying to solve a problem. This may be why he seems to garner so much support from the other side of the aisle on many of the issues he works on, as well as from the people who share his fundamental views. She had a similar approach as she engaged people at the event.

    I had some interaction with Hillary during my stint in the White House, and had lots of experience with her staff. In addition to being very smart, she, too, is very committed to making America and the world a better place. If elected, I think she would also be a good President. But I don't think she has the same ability to inspire people that Obama does, which I believe is what ultimattely is the most important past of a Presdient's job. And, more importantly, I don't think that she and some of the people around her would engage in the same sort of transparent, honest and open approach to governance that I think Obama would. (I recommend a recent piece that George Packer has in the New Yorker, which covers similar issues.)

    This view is partly informed by one experience I had during my time in the White House (holding aside the fact that I was there during the Monica stuff), which ultimately led to my decision to leave that job. It was during the middle of the Kosovo conflict in 1999, and I/we were working like dogs. In fact, I think I spent three straight weeks in the office at one point. Senior leadership at the time was very concerned that the President, because he was unwilling (for political reasons) to put American boots on the ground to stop the awful things the Serbs were doing to the Kosovars, would be perceived as uncaring about the suffering experienced by the Kosovars (as you may recall, thousands of Kosovars were streaming across the borders into Macedonia and Albania). As a consequence, every effort was being made to gin up activities to show the American people and the world that we really did care about what the Kosovars were going through. But there was virtually no substance to most of these activities -- it was all window dressing. In fact, some of the initiatives launched were counter-productive to the things we were trying to accomplish (in addition to taking up too much of our time). It was during a meeting with one of the Deputy National Security Advisors where he was (in his defense, reluctantly) asking us to come up with yet more initiatives to show the world that we cared that I decided I couldn't do my job any longer. Why should I be destroying myself to try to convince the world that we cared about suffering people rather than doing the stuff necessary to address the actual suffering? Perhaps such experiences would occur under any Adminstration. And perhaps it is wrong to hold this experience against Hillary. But based on what I've seen and heard so far, I do think an Obama adminstration would be different. Obama seems to me more secure with himself and the decisions he makes. The fact that he cops to the fact that he smoked dope and tried cocaine as a young man is a positive to me, and is very different to the approach that at least Bill (and by association, Hillary) took to similar issues in their pasts.

    So based on all this, I (along with a fair number of other former Clinton people) have decided to support Obama in the upcoming primary. I think he is the best candidate to square off with the Republicans come November, and I think he would do the best job in helping to repair the tremendous damage that the Bush administration has done to our country. All that said, if Hillary is chosen as the Democratic nominee (and the current polls suggest that she will), I will strongly support her, and probably even look for opportunities to get involved in her adminstration. But I don't have the same excitement about doing so. Indeed, I fear the very fact that I have supported Obama may be a black mark against me if Hillary does win. And the fact that I have such a fear suggests to me why Obama is the better candidate.

    So sorry for burdening you with all these thoughts. But I wanted to nevertheless share my thinking with you because I think this primary and the election itself is one of the most important ones of our generation. I would of course welcome any reactions, comments or questions.

  19. Paul, thanks a lot for the SCOTUS recommendation.

    But you know, I find it hard to call requiring that someone actually have violated a statute before convicting them of violating it to be "slicing the onion thin", nor do I regard the plain words of a criminal statute as "technicalities."

    And Jim, lying is bad. No question. But if you were to put everyone who lied in jail, we might all be wearing stripes someday.
    No, in order to JAIL somebody for lying, you need something more.

    And anonymous: thanks for that e-mail...whether it's actually fro a former staffer or not, I think it sums up what I like about Obama as opposed to Clinton.

  20. The comments today are so serious and intelligent I've decided never to discuss politics again. From now on, only college football, Britney Spears, and the remarkable taste of Trader Joe's frozen creme brulee.

  21. As some of you may know...

    ...I would of course welcome any reactions, comments or questions.

    Uhh...what the hell? Did Naked Authors just get spammed with a chainmail? Anonymously?

    I always appreciate the contributions of people who offer their opinions utterly anonymously. Not.

    Just to make you feel better, Paul, I didn't come anywhere close to revealing my political leanings. Just like the two topics you're not supposed to talk about at parties, politics and religion. And sex. Oh...

  22. The political conversation has grown increasingly shrill in the Era of Rove. So much that I think all of the candidates are a bunch of gas bags. If Democrats refuse to cast their ballots for Hillary, they are essentially casting ballots for a Republican. Remember the Gore/Bush election when many people voted for Nader in protest? Look where we are now.

  23. Amen, Go-Lo!


  24. What is with the love affair with a fraternity brother of GWB? WJclinton, every time he was caught with his --- in the till. bombed countries to deflect attention from his pecadillos. This was a man to be trusted/respected because the populi were told he was for the people and was the "black"president? This man who sexually abused women and his "loving"wife stood by him? Thank god and greyhound he's gone. Elect a social liberal, write in kucinich(possible sp) or even Dave Barry. At least a clown can't hurt people as much as all these Harvard grads have over the years.

  25. I'm with David. Don't make me vote for Hillary. And to Cornelia: A woman in the White House (as preseident) would be great. Just not THIS woman.

    And on the journalist thing: my husband and I are both newspaper refugees. We are terrified my daughter will want to go that route. We are encouraging medical school, hairdressing, anything but.