Posted tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

Did It Start With Bill?

November 17, 2017

Sexual abuse and the country’s awakening to it prevalence, seems center stage in American’s minds.   With each revelation, there are cries of “how could this have happened” and the call for immediate “resignation” from what ever occupation the abuser might now occupy.

Harvey Weinstein has become the abuser poster child, characterizing the male who forces sexual demands upon women, while Kevin Spacey has become the avatar for abusers of other men and boys.

Whether it was “cat calls” at construction sites, or wandering hands at office parties, most everyone with a heartbeat must admit that men have been trying to seduce women forever. (This, however, does not make sexual harassment or similar behaviors ok.) The hidden truth has been some men are just better at it than others and have continually been excused.

The age old defense has been denial on the basis of “he said, she said”, or if that excuse did not work, then claim “it was a consensual”.

Lost in this rhetoric has been calling out “abuse of power” and the “absence of respect” for the other person. And now the public discussion dam has broken and victims feel a new freedom to out their past abuser. Probably, this is a constructive happening, but we must remember that social norms are always changing and it is often not constructive to judge past behaviors with today’s standards.

Case in point. In 2016, America elected a past abuser as President. The Access Hollywood video said it all and yet the phrase “that was locker room talk” seemed to carry the day. Americans in sufficient numbers elected Donald Trump. Curiously, evangelicals decided Trump’s abortion position gave him a pass for past crude and abusive behavior towards women. Hmmm.

Whenever Candidate Trump was confronted with questions about women or any other immoral behavior, Trump was quick to point his finger at former President Bill Clinton. Trump alleged Clinton was the worst woman abuser in White House history, if not in American general history. Hmmm.

Calls for Clinton to withdraw his Presidential candidacy over Jennifer Flowers were ignored with claims Flowers was somehow a morally defective person. Ultimately the House of Representatives’ impeached William Jefferson Clinton (with a vote along party lines) during the Monica Lewinsky affair. Clinton supporters argued that impeachment was unjustified because the affair was consensual and did not rise to Constitutional impeachment standards.

Subsequently, Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House, lost his leadership role when it was revealed Gingrich was involved in an extra-marital affair at the same time he was lambasting President Clinton’s morality. Hmmm.

There is no doubt, however, that President Clinton and the Democrat Party lost a chance to take the high road had the President resigned. While it could be argued that impeachment was unjustified, abuse of power and setting an unacceptable personal standard was clear. Strangely, history records that President Clinton did not resign, nor was he convicted of impeachment, and finished his Presidential term with relatively high public opinion poll numbers.

So fast forward to Judge Roy Moore and Senator Al Franken. Moore has been accused by over 8 separate women of attempted sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior when these women were in their teens and twenties and Moore was in his thirties. One would think that “today”, Moore would recognize the compromised position these revelations put him in and he would withdraw from the upcoming election. One might think that but that person does not know Judge Roy Moore. Judge Moore is set on remaining a candidate.

Senator Franklen, on the other hand, has so far only one accuser and no suggestion that sexual relations was his intent. The Senator voluntarily posed for an inappropriate, to be sure, picture, but poor taste is probably the best terminology for an incident which took place over 10 years ago.

The question that ought to be asked is “fitness for office”. Do these harassment examples make the case that the individual is “unfit” for office? Critics have alleged that former President Clinton who denied all the allegations was a pathological lair and that alone should have disqualified him. President Trump many would say follows in these same footprints.  Judge Moore, however, has a record of ignoring the Constitution and disrespecting the Supreme Court, and the dubious honor of twice being removed from public office. These alone should be sufficient for State officials to have disqualified his candidacy.

Senator Franken represents a quite different challenge. Franken was in an earlier life an entertainer who was frequently seeing satire in everyday life. The transition from the life of a comic to that of a US Senator is not the norm. By all accounts, Senator Franken has been a perfectly above boards Senator and has conducted himself appropriately.
In a narrowly split US Senate, there undoubtably will be calls for him to resign.

But against what standard of conduct should Franken be measured? As former President Jimmy Carter once said, “I’m a sinner because I had lust in my heart”. And President Clinton said, “I never had sex with that woman”. Most political observers would rate Clinton’s Presidency higher than Jimmy Carters based upon domestic and foreign policy results.

So, go figure.


Jeb’s The Most Qualified Of All Of Them…

April 26, 2013

Barbara Bush, wife and mother of former Presidents George H W Bush and George W Bush, when asked about the potential Presidential run by her son, Jeb Bush, intoned that Jeb was the most qualified of the Bush family.  The timing was ironic since it coincided with the opening of former President George W Bush’s library.  Her words have a ring of truth.

“W” has walked a very discreet path since leaving office.  He has wisely stayed out of the political discourse.  His absence has allowed the dust of history to settle a bit.  But the library opening makes it unavoidable to revisit the 2000-2008 period.

Hubris is too small a word to describe the Bush first term crowd.  Abject failure marks the rest.

Lead by Dick Cheney (not Bush), and backed by the wide neoconservative and military-industrial factions, the Bush Administration made one bad decision after another.  Walking away from the Kyoto protocol, canceling the ABM treating, deemphasizing government by selecting ineffectual agency heads, and then losing interest in Afghanistan (forgetting about finding Osama ben Laden), and invading and occupying Iraq, got the Bush team off to a dubious start.

The chickens came home to roost when Iraq disintegrated into civil war, Afghanistan lapsed into an un-winnable mess, Hurrican Katrina demonstrated the need for government services (and the problems when they do not work), enhanced interrogation showed America to have abandoned their principles in favor of torture, and the low interest in regulatory oversight blossomed into the Financial Sector melt down and the closest reunion with depression since the 1920’s.

The Bush library lays out some of these events in hopes future generations may see them differently.  Philosophically, I am not sure what else “W” could have done.  There is, however, much to be learned from the George W Bush Presidency.

  • We need people who want to be President and are willing to work at it.
  • We need people who will lead and not be lead by a small element of his/her staff.
  • We need government services (including regulatory agencies) to work as designed.
  • We need policies that reflect our national priorities, not those of special interest groups.

Even though each of the last several Presidents has received sharp criticism from the loyal opposition, the “on the ground” results of Bush policies when compared to that of those of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama (to date), point out what the Country does not want.

Admittedly, this is not necessarily an endorsement for Clinton or Obama’s policies but in comparison they look giant.

Understanding Arkansas

March 8, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton is not the only gift Arkansas has given the Country.  While some may dispute Bill was any kind of gift, the Arkansas State legislature wants to be in the running for the 2013 gift award.  Bill liked women, but the legislature is trying to out love Bill.  it appears, however, the legislature’s love is far more conditional.  What a strange way to compete.

Arkansas has just passed legislation outlawing abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy.  This passage comes with knowledge of Roe v Wade’s 24 week guidance.  So why would Arkansas divert its time, energy, and resources to a divisive social issue which has clearly been decided by the US Supreme Court?

The conditional nature of Arkansas’s legislature comes into focus when you examine the new law.  Up to 10 weeks, anyone can obtain an abortion, just as with Roe v Wade.  But after 10 weeks, abortions are possible only when the woman’s health is at risk or there are severe health issue with the fetus.

Here’s the question.  Does pro-choice end at 10 weeks and pro-life begin at week 10 plus one day?

In this social debate women find themselves in a nuanced spot.  Do the Arkansas law makers only love them up to 10 weeks or not at all?  Is it possibly these elected officials are, instead, trying to elicit a court challenge so the Roe v Wade decision can be re-litigated, and all rights to an abortion taken away?

In this regard, Bill Clinton’s love for women was unconditionally.  Pretty special when “Slick Willy” is the only Arkansas gift a woman can trust.

The Big Dog Rises

September 6, 2012

Last evening, listeners to the Democratic Convention heard a voice and a message missing from the last 4 years.  The voice was forceful, clear, and easy to understand.  Former President Bill Clinton was saying what President Obama and his surrogates should have been saying for quite some time.

As fully expected, Clinton reduced wonky policy down to simple explanations.  He connected these explanations to the lives of his audience.  “Now catch this, this is important”, Bill said time and again.

Why hadn’t Clintons words on the depth of the economic mess President Obama inherited been said before?  Why hadn’t the connection of Mitt Romney’s and Paul Ryan’s proposals been more clearly compared to the George W Bush failed policies?  And why of all things, had the positive aspects the Affordable Care Act not been made as crystal clear as done by President Clinton?

The Obama Administration has left the impression during the past four years that it was almost embarrassed about its countermeasures to the near 2009 depression, or uninterested in its proposal to reduce the deficit, or lacking conviction to speak more courageously in its selling of health care reform.

There are probably many reasons.  For instance, there has not been a unanimity of opinion amongst Obama’s closest advisors.  This plays into Obama’s preference to hear all sides and then decide.  This type of process rarely brings forth the passion of ones deepest beliefs.

Another reason (to the credit or discredit of the GOP) has been the defense Republicans have played.  “Just say no” is logically so irresponsible that when Republicans adopted this approach, most thought this was a short term tactic, not a long term strategy.  Wagering that it was better to shut the government down than to raise the debt limits, or  to shun any attempts at achieving a compromise around the raising of the debt limit are extreme measures to be sure.

The Obama team took almost three years to decide they could no longer roll over.

The Big Dog is the rare politician who understands policy, is open to moderate views, even those right of center, and can communicate to the average person.  President Obama is not that type of person and we cannot expect a metamorphoses.

President Obama can tonight, as well as during the remaining days of the campaign, speak his mind in the words that make sense to him.  President Clinton has laid it out, there need be no further parsing of words.  President Obama can tell it like he thinks it is.

If he does, it will be interesting to hear Romney make the case for tax cuts, defense spending increases, and deep cuts to entitlements.  Strangely, the GOP position could be winnable with a change in their position.  If Romney would support tax increases and a return to the fairness of the “pre-Bush Tax Cuts”, he could present a case for fiscal soundness and assert that his business acumen will do the rest.

The Big Dog is not on the ballot, so Romney might just capture the election.

Clinton’s speech, however, has put the current Romney and GOP position in the spot light where its lack of coherence and its mean spiritedness glare back at us.

Battle Ground State

September 4, 2012

Pennsylvania is a battle ground State, or so they say.  The Presidential election is supposed to be very close and the electoral vote count reasonably large.  This makes a State a battle ground.

An amazing aspect of many elections these days is that both Presidential and Congressional elections are over once the primary has been held.  For peculiar reasons, certain districts or States vote constantly for one party or the other.  Knowing that, political operatives can narrow down the number of States to contest, focus their resources, and make their campaign funds more productive.  Made in America, I guess.

Well Pennsylvania is sort of a battle ground State.  Democrats think so, but Republican super pacs have decided the odds for Mitt Romney are too long and they have pulled their advertising dollars back.  Pennsylvanians can let out a deep sigh of relief and relax because they will not have to listen to so many mind numbing negative ads.

This morning I watched a DNC sponsored ad featuring former President Bill Clinton.  In its way, it showed the simple message President Obama will need to make if he is to win a second term.

In this ad, Clinton narrates.  Bill tells his audience that the GOP’s plan has been used before and it got us into all the economic trouble we are currently in.  Cutting taxes for the wealthy and reducing regulations simply does not work, Clinton says.

Clinton then says President Obama has a plan.  This plan involves investing in education and the infrastructure and is centered upon rebuilding the middle class.  The ad is short, to the point, and not negative.  It avoids directly answering the “are you better off” type of question the GOP is grasping at now.

The amazing part is Bill Clinton makes you think that this plan is like Mount Rushmore,  All we have to do is look around and there, written before us is President Obama’s plan.

Nothing can contrast former President Clinton and President Obama more than this (unless it involves an intern).  Clinton is able to put in simple and understandable sound bites very complicated and nuanced government policies.

President Obama has been loathed to work with Clinton but at this point, he has no choice.  I do not doubt that President Obama has concluded what is the best course for America both short term and long term.  He has just not been able to articulate it.

He has worked cleverly to disengage American militarily from expensive commitments around the world.  He has moved (as best he could politically) to get control of healthcare for seniors and the poor, and make a real effort to contain costs.  (Time will tell if Affordable Care Act can accomplish this.)

But with all President Obama’s efforts, he has been unable to roll his policies into a neat package.  It took the sweet talking, Mr Teflon to do that.


Bully Leadership

July 31, 2012

Bill Clinton brought America “triangulation”.  George W Bush brought us “in your face, I’m the decider”.  President Obama has used “leading from behind”.  These are three different approaches to Presidential leadership.   Does it make any difference?

In Clinton’s years, it made a big difference if you lived in Rwanda.  Those living in the former Yugoslavia made out better but it did take time.  Triangulation is the process somewhat like a random walk where the Administration measures public opinion following each action and then decides what the nest step will be.  Rwanda did not generate much public sympathy , so no definitive US action took place until it was too late.  Balkans’ intervention became imperative once it was clear Europe could not (or would not) act in its own best interest.

George W Bush subscribed to the neocon approach called “America’s exceptionalism”.  The neocons said America could do no wrong and that the rest of the world depended upon our unilateral exercise of our military strength.  The best way to accomplish this was to throw down the gauntlet at the first chance, pick on someone weaker, and demonstrate to the rest of the world how strong America was by crushing someone weaker.  In a world only divided between good and evil, this might be a useful strategy.  During Bush’s years, however, it failed us miserably.

President Obama has approached foreign affairs in a much more circumspect manner.  He has avoided entanglements where possible and kept focus on ending the two wars he inherited.  There has been an absence of threats and international confrontations.  Surprise, surprise, neocons don’t like his approach.

Eight years is often too short a period to judge any Administrations policies.  The Clinton years represented a failure of America to use its good offices overseas in humanitarian applications.     This failure was moral and not a blow to American self interests.

Bush, on the other hand, followed policies which confronted all sorts of countries and dictators.   US efforts produced no apparent improvement in these countries and cost the US dearly.   The Bush Administration spoke first and thought later, usually when it was too late.

It is still too soon to judge President Obama’s approach although it is hard to imagine it less effective than the two former administrations.

Bill Clinton formed policy with extreme reliance upon opinion polls.  Most of us do not always have enough information to comment wisely on US policy.  Even more, with “issues advertising” there is huge amounts of money being pumped in to influence opinion without any safe guards that the ads are correct.

George W considered almost no public opinion and sought very little input.  The Cheney lead “neocons” already knew what they wanted to do.  Not surprisingly, almost all his failures could have been avoided with more and accurate information.

President Obama’s policy formation lies somewheres in between Clinton and Bush.  Obama seeks information from experts and tries to pick the most prudent course.  His approach is safer but less understood by the general public.

Now we are approaching the 2012 Presidential election.  Candidate Mitt Romney is talking the talk in what can only be described as “neocon revisited”.  Dick Chaney must be proud of him.  Romney has threaten China over currency manipulation even though the US is running a weak dollar monetary policy.  Romney has pandered shamelessly to the American Jewish community (read money) and singled out Iran as the (little) target, if he were President, that the US would kick sand upon.  And so that every one else knows he plans to carry a big stick, Romney solemnly promised to raise defense spending.

So which style of governance would you expect a President Romney to follow?


General Custer’s Last Stand

July 30, 2011

I would bet that General George Custer might have chosen a different time to pursue those Indians at Little Big Horn if he had had another chance.  The GOP has achieved a similar distinction in Washington with its ideological battle over the deficit and debt.  While potentially noble in spirit, the tying the debt limit to the deficit reduction is both foolish and dangerous in practice.

The GOP has, in the process, exposed its fractious nature.  Independents can now see that if you vote Republican, you are voting for the hard right, not some moderate or reasonable close to center group.  As they say, you get what you pay for.

Most of the GOP positions fail tests of reason or are lacking in fairness.  Tax revenue increases is the most obvious.  The GOP says, “no tax increases”.  Even if you do not want to see tax increases, as the debate continues, it will be come clear that tax loopholes and special exemptions already create unfair differences.  If eliminated or at least modified, significant tax revenues increases could be realized.

Medicare and Social Security are two entitlements which need some benefit modifications AND more funding in the form of payroll taxes in order to be balanced.  Defense spending is currently equal to the size of all other country’s spending.  Is more needed to be said?

Individual income tax is another off the table item.  Why?  The GOP says because raising taxes in a fragile economy hurts jobs because it hurts “job creators”.  It is hard to imagine a more outrageous and unsupported claim.  Raising taxes on the wealthy might be considered unfair if the middle class is not asked to pay more but there is absolutely no connection with job creation and America’s very wealthy.

So how does George Custer get into this?

The GOP has chosen to tie the debt ceiling to reducing the deficit and debt.  This is totally unnecessary since the 2012 Federal budget could be just as good a target.  Even more “Custeresque” is that if the US should default, no one knows for sure what the unintended consequences might be.  Experts, however, predict grave consequences.

George Armstrong Custer was not fit to lead and it appears neither is the GOP.