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In Praise Of Bill Clinton

For fear of the Republicans pouncing on them like a crazed leopard, many Democratic officials won’t say it. So BuzzFlash will.

Bill Clinton, Congratulations on a job well done.

For eight years, the United States of America has enjoyed unprecedented prosperity, declining crime rates, and a world at relative peace. Bill Clinton led this country through that period, even though everything – including the kitchen sink – was tossed at him by the rabid dog wing of the GOP.

From the moment Clinton was elected, the Grand Old Party didn’t let up for a minute. They raged and whined their way through eight of the most stable and economically sound years the U.S. has enjoyed in decades. After the Bubba from Arkansas outfoxed them time after time, they tried the highest risk maneuver offered in a democracy: impeachment. When the smoke cleared, Bill Clinton was still standing. Weakened, but still in power.

Yes, Clinton has a zipper problem. And when he got caught with his pants down, he lied to the nation. Let’s forget for the moment that the Paula Jones deposition was the culmination of an entrapment plot by a loose confederation of right wing and GOP operatives. Clinton was wrong – and he apologized.

Clinton’s sin was venial, not mortal. The fallout from the scandal should have ended long ago. But even now, after Robert Ray has finally closed up shop, the foaming at the mouth foot soldiers of the right wing continue to bring the topic up. Why are the conservative Republicans obsessed with sex in the White House? Because they can’t attack Clinton for what is really at the heart of their hatred. Clear and simple, the conservatives loathed the President for his embracing of a multi-cultural society. They don’t like assertive women in the cabinet, minorities in prominent positions, gays treated with respect and dignity -- and they detest an assertive first lady. Sex is just the tar they use to demonize Clinton.

If it were about sex, the Republicans would just be shooting themselves in the head. BuzzFlash could name all the GOP leaders who have admitted to adulterous affairs or been outed, but the list would be too long and would ruin the flow of this article. Two examples, one past and one present, will do.

Newt Gingrich was welcomed back to the GOP Philly Convention as a wounded warrior on the mend. Of course, Newt was chief flamethrower during the impeachment process, decrying Clinton as a moral degenerate. Newt, however, didn’t disclose that he was screwing a Congressional aide more than 20 years his junior, cheating on his second wife, at the same time that he was calling on Clinton to resign because of his adultery. So how come Newt wasn’t wearing a scarlet “A” at the GOP convention?

Then there’s Bill Thomas, recently elected Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. In the last session of Congress, Thomas was Chair of the powerful Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, which oversees Medicare issues including prescription benefits for seniors. Over the summer, Thomas’s hometown paper in California revealed that the married Congressman was having an affair with a high-powered lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. Adultery and conflict of interest all wrapped in one satin sheet: sounds like something that the GOP junkyard dogs would leap on in a minute. But did you hear a word of condemnation out of George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert or Dick Armey? No charges of immorality, no calls for Thomas’s resignation. Not a peep.

The Republicans are quick to forget the human failings of their own. Heck, just ask George W. Bush. Here is a guy who was a self-confessed alcoholic until he was forty, has all but admitted to snorting cocaine, was a womanizer, a failed business man until luck hit him on his head -- and he evaded service in Vietnam to boot. Does anyone see any sneers and jeers coming out from the Republican National Committee about the newly installed President? Is anyone calling for investigations?

Call it hypocrisy of a cunning and brazen sort. But the anti-Clinton drumbeat that continues to this day is not about randy romps in the Oval Office or House Office Buildings. It is about Clinton betraying the Southern Good Old Boys and letting women, gays, and minorities get in on a cut of the action. That is the mortal sin in their eyes. That is what drove them into an eight-year frenzy and obsession with taking Clinton down.

Among all the accusations that have flown, all the investigations that have been conducted, all the venomous attacks that have been launched, the only thing that stuck was that a White House intern performed sexual favors on the President.

Clinton may have lied to the American people about an Oval Office sex act, but he never betrayed the American people in the most fundamental sense. No recent president has put more energy, intellect and political savvy into the job than Bill Clinton – and BuzzFlash would be hard put to recall any public policy action he took that was not in the interest of the nation. We are a better country now than we were eight years ago.

Whatever his moral lapses, Bill Clinton, now an ex-president, deserves our praise, not our condemnation.

Bill Clinton stood up to the forces who oppose America’s evolution into a multi-cultural society, time and time again. It was no game for the faint of heart. We are a better country for it.

Thanks, Bill.

(First posted on BuzzFlash.com in August of 2000 and revised on January 20, 2001)