September 16, 2010
Bill Clinton Helps the Republicans Run against Bush
You've probably heard that joke concerning what's actually happening when Bill Clinton's lips are moving, but sometimes the truth does manage to negotiate his tongue. And his recent trip to Minnesota to campaign for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton might just be one of these instances - well, sort of.
While speaking at a fund-raising event for Dayton, Clinton played the tired old leftist game of trying to paint his opposition as radical, saying that the Republicans are placing ideology over evidence (as opposed, I guess, to placing ideology over the good of your country). Most interestingly, though, he also invoked the name of that terrible bogeyman, George W. Bush, saying, "A lot of their [the Republicans'] candidates today, they make him look like a liberal."
In a way this is true. "Conservative" and "liberal" are relative terms, meaning different things in different times and places; a conservative in the old Soviet Union was a communist while a liberal was someone who was anti-communist. And the only consistent definitions of the terms are, respectively, "favoring maintenance of the status quo" and "advocating the overthrow of it"; thus, in this sense, the ideologies only make sense relative to one another. So, like anyone else, Bush couldn't be understood as a liberal or a conservative without a frame of reference. And if this is to be Tea Party candidates - good candidates - he does look liberal. He pales in comparison.
But the truth is that Bush was never a true rightist, even when judged with the yardstick that should be used: our current political spectrum (which comprises the whole population). And the only reason many people believed he was so was because of that tired old leftist game - played to perfection by Slick Willie - of casting him as a "far-right" politician.
In reality, Bush was a true statist. His veto pen seemed perennially out of ink as he never saw a spending increase he didn't like. He gave us a prescription drug plan that, at the time, was the most expensive federal entitlement in decades; the "No Child Left Behind" act, expanding the central government's unconstitutional role in education; and billion-dollar bailouts of investment houses. He also did little to secure the borders and instead tried to ram amnesty down America's throat.
But what Bush did wrong is perhaps dwarfed by what he failed to do. He did nothing to uproot liberalism and change the political culture. Unlike Reagan, he never talked boldly about eliminating federal bureaucracies. He didn't consistently try to defund the National Endowment for the Arts or public broadcasting. And while the Black Panther case fiasco has made many of us aware of the anti-white, politically correct climate at the Department of Justice (DOJ), what most don't know is that it predated Eric Holder. For example, a town in my area named Port Chester was sued by the Bush DOJ because no Hispanic candidate had ever held office there. And it didn't matter that only 20 percent of the locality's voting population was Hispanic; it had to change its one-man-one-vote system, anyway. I guess waiting for the town's illegals to be granted amnesty wasn't good enough. Then, in a similar vein, Bush's feds investigated my county, Westchester, because there wasn't enough low-income housing in primarily white neighborhoods.
So I guess that in a most shameful sense Bush was conservative: He was quite content to maintain the very liberal status quo. He really was a terrible president in many ways, although not at all for the reasons the left would have you believe.
This places the comments of the supposedly politically savvy Slick Willie in perspective. He means for voters to get the following message: "The current anti-establishment Republicans are so radical they make even Big Bad Bush look reasonable." But the message they just may get is: "Hey, don't vote for these Tea Party folks - they're not at all like Bush!" Well, that's sort of the point. Many Americans are sick of the status quo. They want statesmen who are not like Bush or Obama - or you, Slick Willie.
So if the Democrats parrot Clinton's message, it just may be a winning tactic - for the Republicans, that is.