On Albert Hunt's Mishmash Column
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in 2008 | Bill Clinton — Comments (9) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Albert Hunt has written an editorial in which he wonders--at long last, one might add--what has happened to Bill Clinton:
Hillary Clinton will have nightmares about her botched run for the presidency; it'll be worse for Bill Clinton.
Clinton's impressive Pennsylvania primary victory exposed Barack Obama's general-election vulnerabilities. However, there is nothing to suggest Clinton would be a stronger nominee.
Thus, Obama remains the clear favorite to win the nomination, and the New York senator's painful legacy, in the most important professional endeavor of her life, will have been picking the wrong people and putting together a deeply flawed campaign.
In time she will have fresh opportunities; perhaps a Senate leadership role, or she may emulate Edward M. Kennedy as a truly great lawmaker, or, if Obama loses, make another run for the White House with lessons learned.
It's going to be tougher for her husband. The most talented and resilient politician of this generation has damaged his standing with gaffes, political miscalculations and a series of paranoiac, volcanic eruptions.
A common question these days among political heavyweights, including longtime Clinton devotees, is this: How can a guy this smart act so dumb?
Read on . . .
At this point, there are--or should be--a whole host of people who are muttering something along the lines of "We told you so" in response to Hunt's surprise. Bill Clinton has always been as dissolute as he has been gifted and his dissolution was on clear display, for all to see during the time that he was President. The difference, of course, is that there was no YouTube to play Clinton's Worst Moments virally on the Internet, for all to see, whenever it is that they want. I can't remember who wrote this, but I agree with the observation that if YouTube was around in 1992, there would have been little chance that Bill Clinton could have been elected President. He made the same inconstant and eyebrow-raising statements in the past that he makes now. It's just that with 24 hour a day cable news and viral video, he can't get away with papering over his outburst, his half-truths and his outright untruths the way he did in the past.
Sensing that the "Clinton was always this way, you just didn't notice" argument could be . . . er . . . problematic, Hunt tries to head off headaches at the pass with this whopper:
His performance has also afforded political conservatives an opportunity for a we-told-you-so moment, that Clinton is behaving as disreputably as they always claimed.
That, of course, ignores the reality that special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, surrounded by partisan zealots, conducted a political witch-hunt against Clinton. And there were lavishly funded and surreptitious "hit jobs" against him.
How very laughable. Kenneth Starr's investigation would not have been possible without Bill Clinton's conduct (not to mention Janet Reno's consent for the development of the investigation at each and every turn). And Clinton always had a reputation--well-deserved, as it turns out--for having had a poor relationship with the truth, with reality and with anything that ran against his own personal narcissism. Incidentally, there are no more "lavishly funded and surreptitious 'hit jobs'" against Clinton nowadays. Has that lack of "hit jobs" caused him to act angelically?
Well, if it did and he had, Hunt would have had nothing to write about, nyet? And indeed, every instance in which Bill Clinton's behavior has been found wanting constituted an unforced error on his part, both during his Presidency and now, during his wife's campaign for the Presidency.
Al Hunt clearly doesn't want to admit this. But save two paragraphs in which he takes a desperation shot at the VRWC, he basically cops to the fact that Bill Clinton was never the hero that Hunt and others made him out to be. You can't chronicle all of Clinton's misdeeds both in and out of office and then claim that Ken Starr was responsible. Many people would not have heard of Ken Starr if it weren't for Bill Clinton. And long after Starr departed the public scene, Clinton has remained, causing people like Al Hunt to write columns that vacillate between savaging the 42nd President of the United States for his ethics, his behavior and the company he keeps, and trying vainly to make excuses that don't involve admitting that the VRWC had a point.