In the time it took for Bill Clinton to issue a self-serving, unenthusiastic, half-hearted, typically narcissistic response to the question of whether or not Barack Obama was prepared to be president, any and all gains — real and perceived — of the Clinton White House years disappeared into the ether. Any good feeling the man had engendered over eight years of calm, triangulating moderation and a relatively low-key post-presidency was in danger of being forever lost after a primary season full of sniping, veiled bigotry, and a near-suffocating sense of entitlement, but now heís gone too far. With mere weeks to go before the Democratic convention, and Obamaís campaign inconceivably deadlocked with the worst major party candidate in 100 years, the absolute minimum we should expect from the party faithful†is the appearance of unity. Fake enthusiasm if you must — hell, even lie — and get behind the nominee with the force of a hurricane. Make bold comparisons to long-dead heroes. Invoke well-loved martyrs, or shining lights from a distant past. Bow at the fucking ankles, if thatís what it takes. But here, now, with the election already slipping away to a pasty zombie who loses large chunks of his face on a daily basis, all while retaining the rhetorical skills of a dementia-ridden rest home casualty, the word on the street must be that Obama is the man of the hour; a†champion not only ready to lead, but one who is cocksure, confident, and all but bestowed with the nationís highest honor. Instead, we get assorted hems and haws, twists and evasions, and the typical egomaniacal ravings weíve come to expect from the 20th centuryís most overrated chief executive.
So, despite being an avid supporter since the very beginning, Iíve turned the corner. Fuck Bill Clinton as a man, yes, but fuck him as a president. Obviously, his impeachment was a ridiculous, hypocritical affair that smacked of a bloodless coup, but at long last, it can be said that everything his critics said about him was true. And then some. Bill Clinton is a fundamentally dishonest man, not so much a liar as a sociopath with full-tilt delusions of grandeur. Weíve seen swelled heads before in Washington — LBJ, for one — but at least Johnson used his powers to bring about ambitious changes to the party and the country he led. LBJ did as much for his own manhood as he did America, but no one did it better, and when he grabbed you by the lapels or poked his oversized digits into your chest, he had grand schemes at the end of such intimidation. War ended his utopian swagger (as it always will), but he had no less than the continuation of FDRís revolution as his end goal. Clinton, on the other hand, came to destroy the very party he claimed to love, forever consigning it to the scrap heap of retreat and accommodation; a party that flexed its muscle by co-opting conservatism and recasting it with a less aggressive posture. But conservatism it remained, and the Clinton years, for all of†their assumed glory, were as much a rightward tilt as the previous decade-plus of Reaganism. Clintonís relative success at the polls also created the expectation that whenever a Democrat runs for higher office, he must abstain from any real form of liberalism. ďThe era of big government is over,Ē he once said, which may as well have been submitted on a post-it from Newt Gingrich himself.
Yes, fuck Bill Clinton. From the signature affixed to the heinous Telecommunications Act of 1996†to his Defense of Marriage Act love fest, Clinton proved over eight years that elections do matter, so long as you donít mind uninterrupted Republican rule regardless of party label. His appointments to the Supreme Court were, needless to say, far better than would have been installed by a second term of Bush the Elder (or maybe not, given Souter), but for all their leftist leanings, both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are, as a New York Times piece pointed out a few months ago, unapologetic corporatists. Theyíll defend porn and abortion and affirmative action, but in matters of business, their philosophies differ little from the more reactionary members of the Court. Breyer is no Scalia, but this only goes so far. After all, thereís a reason both appointees received near-unanimous approval from the Senate. The same aw-shucks affection would not have been given to someone from the William O. Douglas school of judicial activism, though itís hard to imagine anyone of that ilk ever making it to the federal bench again. But Clinton could have had the world in those two years before the worm turned, and he went to the center as usual. Perhaps weíre better for it, but itís the sort of reptilian compromise that defines the boy wonderís political life.
And now, at what should be a moment of historical transition, Bill has seen fit to slap his prick on the counter once again and make the election a referendum on his relevance. In his mind, he saved the Democrats from oblivion, when he merely made them a less fascistic version of pure evil. In the pure light of reality, the 1990s were a madhouse of illusion and, in the words of then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, ďirrational exuberance,Ē and the correction of 2001-2002 was less a shockwave than the expected chickens coming home to roost. It was a decade entirely on paper; no real money to back it up, and the wild fiction that we could have it all, forever and a day, if possible. Without even bothering to check the ticker, it is no exaggeration to say that for every lasting job created in those years, twenty-five others appeared that had no possibility of surviving close scrutiny. Titles were carved out of thin air and assigned to any nitwit willing to borrow a few million for a silly dream. The dot-com economy, then, was the culmination of a decadeís worth of schizophrenia writ large, whereby a people infected with the very greed they claimed belonged to a slicked-back decade prior used the proverbial shoeshines and smiles to bring everyone into a limitless tent of expansion. It was Clintonís love-in, and it helped foster the more damaging illusion of recent years that just-off-the-boat flunkies could in fact pay mortgages swallowing 80% of their take-home pay, or that starry-eyed newlyweds, often in possession of little more than unmarketable degrees, should inhabit that airless plane of the above and beyond. The money will come. Bill said so.
Clinton gave us guns and butter to be sure, only the guns were to our own heads. We bought the whole stinking lie, and he leaned back for his trailer park hummers while convincing us all that the ride would never end. And while lying about a blowjob — even while under oath — will never rise to the level of forced removal, it should be said that his reckless behavior at a time of bitter partisanship and pathological surveillance gives us an insight into his motivations far more than anything ever could. He didnít give a shit then, and he doesnít now, except to further his own needs and sense of self. Iím no scold, but if a party leader canít see fit to retreat to the shadows at a time when no one has asked for his advice or input, then he deserves to have his legacy remain forever tarnished and stigmatized by such ill-considered actions. We always get the leaders we deserve, and while Bush I would have been re-elected without Perotís spoiler role, it still stands that in 1992, we wanted to have a little fun again, and cared little who was picking up the tab. Clinton was as militaristic, cynical, and exploitive as anyone who came before or since, and it takes little by way of imagination to envision his own Rose Garden ceremony celebrating the virtues of the Patriot Act had 9/11 occurred on his watch. He too repeated the bullshit of Saddamís apparitional WMDís, and his own wife enthusiastically voted for the invasion of Iraq. Itís impossible to imagine that he pushed her to consider the opposite view.
Fuck Bill Clinton. My instinct to come to his defense is no more, and I want nothing more to do with him. Respect and admiration came readily in the past, and now they flee with similar ease. No wonder Bill and Hillary formed such a formidable alliance: both are razor-lipped power junkies who would step on a gaggle of grandmothers to rise a sliver of a percentage point in the polls. They seek advice not to gain a further understanding, but to test the winds of political expediency. They lack any real courage or grit, and would change on a dime for a solitary vote. Hillaryís easier to hate, of course, because sheís little more than a shrill, shrieking cunt in a pantsuit, but Bill has proven to be just as despicable in the end. The naysayers understood after all: no core, no principles, no conviction not up for sale to any bidder, high or low. All of it to stuff down his pants and leave the rest to chance. No liberal, heís not even a friend to liberals, and is so racked by jealousy and childishness that he canít stand the thought of a party being held in his absence. Admittedly, the charges of racism are ridiculous on their face, because racism requires a stand, and Iím not sure Bill wants to go on the record with anything definitive. And while he didnít blatantly ruin the country like the frat boy fuck-up extraordinaire who followed in his footsteps, he did so rock the nation to sleep that we didnít seem to mind when the Constitution withered away under a relentless assault of excrement. After the Clinton years, we were primed and ready for a comforting idiot to pilot our Hindenburg, and we gave him the keys with apathy and indifference. And now Bill is back, trying to kill a candidacy in its crib lest it outshine his own compromised years in power. So fuck him. Hard, sans lube. And when the crypt opens before you, grab the hand of the missus and go quietly. For once.