Bush Clinton Bush…(wallace)

If you’ve bothered to watch TV in the last few days, you may have heard a blurb or two about Clinton finally throwing it back in the face of the shit shovelers opposition on a Fox News interview with The Smirk (AKA Chris Wallace [right]). Clinton’s WWF smack down of Wallace came after Bill was invited on the show to talk about his “Global Initiative” and then got railroaded into talking about his “failure to capture Bin Laden” during his presidency. Well, Bill decided to defend himself (doesn’t he know that he’s supposed to follow the script of sitting there while sand gets kicked in his face?) and answer Wallace’s questions by going on the attack and talking to Wallace the way Fox News hosts often talk shout to their left-leaning guests. Except there was one major difference: Clinton made a sound counter-argument and what he said sounded credible. And if you listened very carefully, you could almost hear a large swath of the country say, “Well, it’s about time!” after the clip of Clinton was put on the 24 hour spin cycle.

There must be some kind of switch embedded in the brains of many right-wingers that goes into full psycho mode whenever someone from “the other side” defends their position with the kind of vigor that Clinton did. Perhaps that switch goes off only when Clinton defends himself because many of the politico-radicals on the right spent 8 years trying to destroy Clinton — and he proved that he wasn’t so easy to knock down. And because he survived impeachment and the various “gates” (as in “Watergate) that were trumped up, they fume when he’s on TV because the a good chunk of country still finds him an adept politician who presided over the “good times,” and they would re-elect if they could.

People who are of my political stripes (i.e., center-left) see Clinton in a different light, however. Given the opportunity to be “one of the great ones,” he squandered that opportunity by being more center/center-right than working for the interests of the folks who were really screwed over by the Reagan-Bush years of the 80s and early 90s.

Instead, we got a good politician who moved the political football a few yards to the left while constantly fending off attacks from the right. Clinton was and adept and skillful president who was able to serve as a two-term Democrat, but he was not one of the great ones like an FDR.
With Bush, the Right wanted their FDR. They want a “great one” who would take history in a different direction; whose legacy would be one that scholars will study, streets named after, a face created on Mt. Rushmore, families keeping pictures of his face their walls, and whose name would forever be associated with toughness as greatness. The problem is: the right got George W. Bush. And so, they set out to create the demi-god the longed for through “The Image.”

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: many of the politico-radicals on the right are very good at marketing. They know how to create a brand and hammer that message into our collective heads until there’s a kind of acquiescence and acceptance of the marketing message of the day. Show Bush as “tough,” and people will accept him as tough. Show Bush as resolute, and people will accept him as resolute. Talk about how the Bush’s plan for (insert policy here) is best for Americans, and Americans will believe that it’s best for them. The underlying factor in making these messages work is fear. Because in any other political environment, Bush would have been a one-term chump. Only with an endless crisis and an environment of fear will this marketing message have success — given the product that’s being sold. Oh, and it also helps if you have your own media outlets to reinforce the message and the product.

The Democrats, for the most part, have been unable to successfully counter the ability of the right wing message machine. But then Bill Clinton couldn’t take it anymore, and fired back.

I’m glad he did, but I wonder why it has taken him so long to do so. Then I remembered that he’s grown very close to Bush Sr., and Clinton may have been reticent to say anything because it may have damaged his friendship with “41” (as Bush Sr. likes to call himself). Now that Clinton has “unburdened himself” it’s not clear what Bush Sr. will do or say, but there’s one thing that Clinton has done for those like me: he’s made me realize that it doesn’t take much to counter the bile of the right if armed with the right combination of credible information and the ability to clearly articulate it.

Alas, there doesn’t seem to be anyone but Clinton on the Dem’s side who can do so at this time.

–PK

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