Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's hard to age gracefully when you are a politician


Bill Clinton in his Golden Days

I woke up to a meme on facebook that showed a sickly Bill Clinton alongside a virile Sammy Haggar, apparently intended to illustrate what politics does to the man.  It doesn't matter that Bill went through bypass surgery in 2004 or the health problems that limit him on the campaign trail, someone was determined to present Bill in the worst possible light.  Yet, when you stand Bill alongside Keith Richards he no longer looks so bad.

Bill is considered to be a huge asset for Hillary.  He enjoys high favorable ratings, is widely regarded as having been a good president, despite his sexual indiscretions, and still comes across as very affable in interviews.  GQ recently offered this profile on Bill, showing that he is still cool if not as energetic as once before.  Yet, somehow Bill looks subdued, one might even say "cowed" in the presence of Hillary.  

Trump's strategy, before he went off the rails, was to link Hillary to Bill in the most unflattering of terms.  Donald even went so far as to call Hillary an "enabler" in the sex scandals, spelling it out in no uncertain terms, which is rare for him.   He's picked up the drumbeat again, telling his devoted audience that Bill Clinton "was impeached for lying!"

The real estate mogul appears to consider lying the worst possible trait a human can have, yet has been caught lying many times himself, often within a span of 24 hours.  When confronted, he simply says he was being sarcastic, although for some dumb reason stuck with his story that Barack Obama founded ISIS, even when Hugh Hewitt tried to give him a way out.  

I'm surprised Trump didn't blame Bill Clinton for ISIS, after all it was the former president who enforced the "no fly zones" in Iraq following the Persian Gulf War.  Some conservative blogs refer to it as Clinton's "Quiet War," omitting the fact that it was George H.W. Bush who put those no fly zones in place.

Trump doesn't know when to attack Bill or Obama or Hillary.  In his mind, they are one in the same, part of a tarnished Democratic legacy that he hopes to unseat.  This is the way the conservative blogosphere has been presenting it for years.  I'm surprised these right-wing kooks didn't concoct some story where Hillary is the teen mother or Bill the father of this illegitimate child, but then I guess that would go against the "closet Muslim" narrative they have pitched for years.

It's like nothing happened between the terms of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  George Bush has been surprisingly absent from this campaign, and his father virtually forgotten.  Trump dispensed with Dubya in the primaries when he knocked Jeb out of the race, and no longer feels the need to invoke George 43's failed administration on the campaign trail.  What we get instead is an almost seamless transition between the Clinton and Obama administrations, to the point that Trump's surrogates are blaming Obama for the Afghanistan War as well as the surge in Iraq in their feeble attempt to link the President to ISIS.  

History is literally being rewritten before our eyes.  Fortunately, there are those on hand to call out Trump and surrogates like Katy Pierson, but in the minds of Trump's devoted following all these statements ring true because they have heard it many times before on the conservative blogosphere.  Anything that is bad in this world is because of either Clinton or Obama.

We heard similar calls when the housing market collapsed in 2008.  It wasn't Bush's fault, who was President at the time, but rather Clinton's fault because he had allegedly freed up the Federal National Mortgage Association, aka Fannie Mae, back in the 90s.  It just took ten years for the bubble to burst.  No mention of Bush's "Ownership Society," which used artificially low interest rates to lure persons into buying houses at an unprecedented rate, creating the most speculative real estate market since the 1920's.  Nope, Big Bill was to blame, along with his Democratic cronies in Congress who wouldn't let Bush take full control of Fannie Mae.

Bill Clinton isn't the victim of age or sex scandals, but of denial.  The GOP is a Party of Denial, and Trump is the standard bearer, proudly denying every favorable thing he ever said of the Clintons and now presenting them as Francis and Claire Underwood in the flesh.  This isn't him, this is the GOP.  This is exactly the way radical conservatives have been presenting the Clintons since Campaign Trail '92, long before House of Cards.  Trump even dredged up the Vince Foster story at one point, which by the way was used in the first season of House of Cards.

One can accuse Trump of many things, but Clinton bashing is a national sport among Republicans.  Nothing is too crude, too over-the-top in the constant attempt to portray them as the most dastardly American political couple in history.  Where Beau Willimon and David Fincher meant their fictional characters as dark satirical figures, the GOP literally sees the Clintons this way, and has done everything it could these past four years to kill a Hillary Clinton presidency out of fear it would perpetuate this horrible Democratic legacy.

What's particularly odd about this is that back in 2008 they didn't feel the same way.  Many conservative figures actually stood behind Hillary in her run against Barack Obama, crossing over to vote for her in open primaries.  Ann Coulter went so far to say she would back Hillary over John McCain in the general election.  This was in February mind you, when Hillary led Obama in the delegate count.

Maybe if Hillary hadn't served Obama, feelings would be different now?  As we have seen repeatedly, any Republican who embraced Obama was horsewhipped by the conservative media, starting with poor Charlie Crist, who had the temerity to accept Obama's stimulus package with a hug.  Promising GOP candidate Jon Huntsman was run out of the race in 2012 because he had served as Obama's Ambassador to China, yet is now "Stumpin' for Trump."  So much for No Labels.

But, Hillary was always seen as reckless, an enabler, someone who could not be trusted. For a brief moment, conservatives flirted with her because she seemed a better choice than Obama or McCain, but when presented with a "true conservative" like Donald Trump, these same persons want to wash the taste of Hillary out of their mouth, dredging up whatever story they can find to make her look bad.  

Even Trump has turned 180 degrees on the many complimentary things he had to say of Hillary before he chose to be the GOP mantel head.  As we see in this 2013 video clip, Trump loquaciously praised Hillary's record as Secretary of State, which he now denounces at every turn.  This extends to Bill Clinton as well, who he had previously felt got a bum rap for the Monica Lewinsky affair, but now describes as a serial rapist.

I imagine if Sammy Haggar had gone into politics, he would have aged just as badly.  It's not like you can get your blood periodically filtered as Keith Richards has done, and be clear of the taint.  It sticks to you long after you have left office, forcing politicians to continually address the same questions whether they want to or not.  Bill will never be able to live down that stained dress, and Donald Trump is going to use what ever he can find to besmirch his opponents.  Sadly, this is the nature of politics.


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