Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NOT BEANBAG. I won't even bother to link many of bazillion posts going now about how Bill Clinton shouldn't campaign so ruthlessly for Hillary Clinton. Two are indicative enough. On the left, Ezra Klein:
The impulses behind his actions are easy to understand. And, on some level. it's his reputation, his capital, his right to expend it as he sees fit.

But even as he's got that right, he's also got a responsibility to the millions of Democrats -- and Americans -- who worked on his campaigns and fought in his battles, who sacrificed and toiled so he could have this place in our polity, and who expected he would use it to push for progressivism, not just for his family.
I hate to break it to Ezra, but Clinton was barely a progressive president. The distinguishing features of his reign were welfare cuts, pro-growth business policies, and NAFTA. The "progressive" social programs he managed to get through (like the Family and Medical Leave Act) were sufficiently modest that the moneyed interests were able to accommodate them without breaking a sweat. FDR he wasn't. He wasn't even Hubert Humphrey.

Despite this, he had to fight off the most highly developed political attack machine in history. He knows that even moderates have mortal enemies and have to fight like radicals to win. Why should he give a fuck about his reputation among the goo-goos or anyone else? He governed from the middle and got treated like an American Lenin. Presumably he thinks his and his wife's brand of competent, centrist government will be judged kindly by history, but it has to get voted in first.

And from the right, sort of, Andrew Sullivan. I don't even need to quote him; you know what to expect from him and have known it for years. If Sullivan has nothing else in common with his old rightwing colleagues anymore, he is reunited with and even outstrips them in his reflexive hatred of all things Clinton. I'm not so keen on them myself, but I don't need a fucking drool-cup whenever they come into view. And I must say that Sullivan's current concern for gentlemanly conduct in Presidential contests is a little rich when compared to his far more measured assessment of Karl Rove* as recently as 2004:
And the Mary Cheney thing is a brilliant maneuver by the Republicans. Rove knows that most people do find mentioning someone's daughter's lesbianism to be distasteful and gratuitous. So he can work it to great effect, exploiting homophobia while claiming to be defending gays. Again: masterful jujitsu. I tip my hat to the guy. Poisonous, but effective.
Compared to that loathsome episode, what the Clintons have been doing is strictly Marquis of Queensbury stuff, but they'll never get the kind of good-show Sullivan gave Rove because Sullivan is afflicted by what, in other contexts, is commonly called a Derangement Syndrome.

Again, Hillary Clinton is my least favorite Democratic candidate, but here reason forces me to defend her. The notion that saying mean things about Obama to beat him in a Presidential race is some kind of offense to decency is ridiculous even when you don't consider the source.

* Please forgive the tertiary sourcing; Sullivan's posts from his days of Bush enthusiasm are effectively memory-holed.

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