Monday, April 03, 2006

oh, the irony!

A couple of points about this paragraph from the New Republic's Peter Beinart:
". . . Prominent Republicans don't talk much about Clinton's impeachment today; it doesn't quite square with their more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger fretting about Bush hatred. But I don't know of a single major Republican politician or conservative pundit who has admitted the obvious: that impeaching Clinton was a farce and a disgrace, the likes of which we should pray never to see again. The Republican strategy on Feingold's censure effort is to keep calling it absurd without engaging it on the merits. But, on the merits, Feingold's case is much stronger. As former Reagan-era Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein has put it, Bush's actions are "more dangerous than Clinton's lying under oath, because it [Bush's claim of nearly unlimited executive authority] jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages." If Republicans want to keep suggesting that censure (let alone impeachment) is a singularly extreme act to be taken only when our constitutional system is in peril, then they need to apologize for what happened in 1999. I'm not holding my breath."

Possibly the biggest irony of the Bush Administration, and certainly its greatest contribution, has been that it rehabilitated the presidency of Bill Clinton. Despite his general success and the respectable amount of good that he did, Clinton left office loathed by half the country, the poster boy for moral turpitude and the butt of late night talk show jokes for aeons to come. Meanwhile, every time Bush screwed something up at first, every Republican hack would immediately say, "But what about when Clinton..."

Unfortunately for them, that trick lost its potency when it became clear to everyone (except the DC establishment and their media whores, apparently) that Bush was clearly a less politically capable, mentally agile, and emotionally mature president than Slick Willy. Then all of a sudden, a funny thing happened: wide swathes of the electorate starting looking affectionately back at the days of the late '90's and a president that was indisputably intelligent, well-spoken, and responsible with the levers of military power. And here's the kicker: looking back at someone they could trust.

So here we are, 6 years later, and many people have long ago accepted as fact what Beinart and his establishment buddies are just now figuring out: that Clinton's impeachment was not, in fact, about values or role-models or even the law, and furthermore, that the willingness to misuse of such a powerful congressional weapon has been detrimental to the political process and discourse in this country.

If things play out the way they're looking now, Bush may manage to do what Clinton could not: lay the deathknell to the Republiccan juggernaut.

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