Work and Days

Clintonia

Clinton in South Carolina

I was listening tonight to a C-Span broadcast of Bill Clinton’s stump speech for his wife in South Carolina. Here are my conclusions:

1. In her mid-twenties, right out of law school, Hillary’s philanthropy and social service were of such a magnitude that they almost immediately found their way into federal law. Indeed, much of our comprehensive legislation concerning children and the poor had their geneses through her twenty-something work. The audience is to believe that leaving Yale Law School and forgoing politics back in Illinois were moral decisions for which we all are forever in her debt. Like Bill, she has suffered for all of us.

2. There is really not much of a social safety network for anyone. We may be giving half our incomes over to federal, state, and local taxes, spending 70% of our budget on social programs, and at the apex of large government in our history, but none of this is adequate. Instead, veterans, children, the poor, and aged, all of them are simply being neglected—and only Hillary has the savvy to create enough new social programs to save those who need to be saved. Any social pathology is entirely due to collective indifference or government neglect. Since the individual through drunkenness, drug use, ignorance, evil, or selfishness is never responsible for the results of his pathology, it would be silly to ask of him to clean up his own mess.

3. Almost every anecdote is prefaced by “When I was Governor, Hillary…” or “When I was president, she…” By implicit assumption, if we vote for Hillary we are voting in name for a co-presidency, but in fact, for a third and fourth term for Bill.

4. The problem is not that Bill Clinton occasionally lies—he does. But instead, almost serially he exaggerates and fudges—and in ways beyond not inhaling or redefining “is”, or insisting oral sex is not sex. The result is a Forrest Gump like effect, that we are to believe he and Hillary were the font of every almost every liberal gift of the last quarter-century—Yale, then Arkansas being the Mecca of social change.

5. It would be cruel, but understandable to ask amid these long encomia on Hillary’s character, her talent, and her morality—prefaced by Bill’s commentary that he almost alone realized her singular gifts, why in the world, then, did he spend over thirty years trying to escape her in almost every way imaginable? Why if she walked on water, did he find company, carnality, conversation with Paula Jones or Gennifer Flowers, or feel the need to talk trash and more with Monica? In other words, he is asking the voter to take on a partnership, a political marriage if you will, that he, mutatis mutandis, never would or has. It reminds me of the last time I bought a Chevy S-10. The local Selma salesman went on at great length about its reliability, its power, and economy, its great price, and then I asked him whose small, like-sized Toyota Tacoma was parked nearby and was it for sale? No need to tell you to whom it belonged.

More on McCain

My private email, still deluged with angry letters, reflects the postings here that many will not vote for McCain—no matter what. Perhaps President Hillary will make their point that a quasi-conservative (80 or so in standard ratings) is not good enough and should equate to a lost election.

But all the candidates have problems. Huckabee’s populism and foreign policy experience reflect more Huey Long or William Jennings Bryan than the Republican mainstream. Romney crafted a career as a blue-stocking moderate to win in Massachusetts, a stance that was deliberately at odds with Reaganite social conservatism. Giuliani reflected those mushy attitudes about illegal immigration characteristic of the 1990s. Yet I would vote for any of the above in preference to Sen. Clinton, who, as we are beginning to see, is a mere surrogate for eight more years of Bill, who, in turn, is determined to wash away his earlier stains by a third and fourth chance at our collective expense.

I take McCain at his word that—once chastised on immigration—he will close the border. Ending illegal immigration, restoring fiscal sanity, cutting spending, and insisting on victory in the war are the essential issues, and on all he is far preferable to Hillary. There really is a difference between “suspension of disbelief” and “no substitute for victory.” That is why a number of conservatives have and will continue to hold their noses and endorse McCain.

Republicans, like it or not, have been given a great gift. Just three months ago Hillary was coronated in the media as our next President, as polls showed her winning against all comers. Then came her demonization of Obama and the entrance of pit-bull Bill—and the country was reminded of the Clinton viciousness and the entire fraud of modern liberal thinking.

Identity politics? Good except when your square white wife must win to get you back in power? Feminism? Women rule—except when they are surrogates for a male return to power at any cost? The policies of personal destruction? Terrible—unless you must engage in them to destroy the black candidate to save the black constituency. A liberal slanted media? Great—until liberals begin to see that Clintonites are embedded all over the networks and can’t quite be fair to Obama.

All this the Clintoni have exposed and the results are clear: a moderate-conservative nominee, at a time when a Republican President has a 35% approval rating, will still beat a left-wing Democrat. And yes, moderate Democrats, who watch this Clintonian ruthlessness, will be turned off and may well vote for a McCain in key states like Ohio, Michigan, Florida and elsewhere not because McCain is a liberal, but because they can disguise their embarrassment and disgust for Clinton by claiming they voted for a national hero.

A Final Note. Remember that Ronald Reagan signed the greatest amnesty bill in our history that helped to ensure the present 10-15 million illegal aliens, raised payroll taxes and upped gasoline taxes, sold arms secretly and illegally to the Contras, had a disastrous episode in Lebanon that cost 241 Marine lives, naively called for global nuclear disarmament, and far more unconservative accomplishments—and rightfully, despite all that, deserves the mantle of a great President. And more importantly, it is likely that the two moderates in the race, McCain and Giuliani, most often supported Reagan during his administration in practical ways.

A better tactic than sitting out the election would be to unite around the nominee, and then put his feet to the fire on key issues. If it is McCain, then demand he go on Limbaugh’s show for an hour, or speak before social conservatives, and take the heat.

We are watching something historic—the crumbling of the Clinton façade. Its disintegration does not mean Hillary won’t be President, only that she can now be beaten when just a few months ago that was deemed impossible. Strange to say: the election is in Republican hands.

Two New Journals.

Two left-of-center journals, Lapham’s Quartlery and World Affairs, have appeared and they are, yes, both excellent. Both have the usual anti-Bush subtexts. But there is a lot of balance. In the World Affairs launch issue there are good essays by Peter Collier and one by Christopher Hitchens, as well as contributions from Reuel Marc Gerecht and David Bell.

Louis Lapham’s final editor’s essays in Harper’s excoriating Bush were near hysterical and rambling. I’m sure he thought that I was as unhinged in support of the removal of Saddam and the need to replace him with a constitutional government as I did his blanket opposition.

But no matter—his quarterly is excellent, an original sort of publication devoted to military history in the broadest literary sense. The method is to take today’s controversies—Iraq, asymmetrical warfare, terrorism, preemption, etc.—and juxtapose current observations by military historians and essayists with those of the past, whether by Thucydides or George Orwell. The effect is to have a board of contributors, as it were, made up by the likes of Machiavelli and Eugene Sledge. The quarterly is lavishly produced and beautifully illustrated, a sort of literary version of Military Historical Quarterly. I would like to hear readers’ comments about the first issue.

Fox News

I am supposed to be on Fox News this Sunday at around 11 AM. I try to do a radio program every day or so, but usually avoid television. There are no studios in Fresno that will open a link, and the networks don’t like to send a van out to the farm. They’ve done so 5-6 times, but it seems a colossal waste of money to set up the living room for 2 hours and then do 3 minutes. The only time I can do it, then, is here at Stanford that has an excellent studio, and I am rarely here at the time they ask—except for this Sunday.

Rush, the Genius?

I note in passing that, contrary to elite opinion, I am mightily impressed by most in talk radio. A Hugh Hewitt or Dennis Prager is far brighter than most academics I met over the last thirty years, not to mention far better spoken. We also forget that Limbaugh is not just a pundit, but a gifted comedian. His impersonations and imitations are in the first rank of comedians. Note the recent writers’ strike shut down or emasculated lesser talents like Leno, Letterman, and Maher, but reminded us that Limbaugh daily, for three hours non-stop can do his own material. He had all the requisite talents—quick wit, well read, good memory, excellent delivery, and a comic sense.

The Left never saw that. They thought offering up antithetical shows would do the trick, not understanding that Rush succeeded wildly, not just because of his commentary, but because he really is a gifted entertainer, a sort of combination Jack Benny, Lenny Bruce, Don Rickles, and Rich Little all in one, with the insight of a Buckley or Novak. Really a gifted guy. If he bit his lip Clinton-style or socialized with the literati, or didn’t have to do ads, he would be considered by critics as the genius that he really is.