I saw and heard Bill Clinton on C-SPAN at a Texas book fair in Austin last Saturday morning and something literally jumped out at me. Not that it actually should have but such is the state of America and the reason I am writing this.
What especially startled me was experiencing a former President who could engage with an audience minus a codpiece, scripting, hand-picked toadies occupying the seats, pre-selected questions…well, you know the drill.
Keep in mind that I am not a major fan of Bill Clinton. Yes, the timing and extent of his various sexual peccadiloes are troublesome but, for me, the retaliatory campaigns of personal destruction against the women involved are more disturbing. An even greater blot on Clinton’s record is his inaction when the genocide in Rwanda was raging.
But still, nostalgia reigned for me as I witnessed the former leader of this country respond to question after question, formulating ideas, supporting them with facts, offering a vision for the future. I kept thinking that this is the type of intellect and individual necessary to lead a country such as ours in these times of tremendous complexity.
What has the current Oval Office resident offered about dealing with present-day and future domestic and international concerns? Utterances along the lines of:
* ‘terrorists-we’ll just kill all of ’em’
* ‘a vote for me is a vote for your safety, a vote for my opponent, well…take your chances’
* ‘I know, as you well know, that homosexual marriage and each and every one of us not sporting a bright and blessed tattoo of the 10 Commandments on our foreheads are the top two problems facing this country’
* ‘global warming—we’re checking it out but it’s still cold in D.C. during the winter, isn’t it?’
* ‘the devil is in the details, so that’s why I avoid ’em’
One can and should have a hearty laugh over Bill Clinton’s parsing of words prior to and during his presidency. But the subject matter generally involved his personal behavior–sexual relations, marijuana usage and the like.
Well, the 43rd president has done essentially the same, with far, far less of an acrimonious barrage from the press.
Remember the sloughing off of alcohol and drug usage as ‘overindulging as a youth’? Yep, a youth in his forties.
And while wrong, is Clinton’s splitting of lexicon hairs so outrageous compared to the blatancy of the lies AND the subject matter proffered by the current Commander-in-Chief? You wouldn’t know that by perusing the majority of the mainstream media.
Take “we do not torture.” Does ‘we’ mean the First Family? Or the President and Vice President? The United States military? The CIA? The country as a whole? And if ‘we’ have others do the torture dirtywork abroad for us, does that mean “we do not torture” is linguistically accurate?
Unlike politicians who issue a simplistic this-or-that choice, there is no need to select between someone offering intelligence and another emanating an easiness-to-relate-to about them. These aren’t diametrically opposing components.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been guilty of lowering our expectations, of reducing standards, of doing the worst in dumbing down this nation. That is a vile national pornography we can ill afford.
And hey, Clinton even admitted to the book festival audience that he was this country’s foremost sinner! Let’s not hold our collective breaths until the current occupant of the White House admits to anything, even years after he returns to the wasteland of Crawford and the foremost events he is called upon to lord over are crawdad festivals and the like.