Monday, September 14, 2009

Not So Fast

No one can accuse Maureen Dowd of mincing words, fence-sitting, or ambivalence. She wrote in her Saturday column in The New York Times:

The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

....Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

There is far, far more to it than that. In making another point(s), a "driftglass," at reminds us:

Once upon a time, there was a President named Bill Clinton, who was, by most historical standards, a typical Centrist Republican, although by a fluke of geography and circumstances he ran for public office with a "(D)" after his name.

Under his Administration, many Conservative ideas which had long gathered dust on the shelf -- ideas such as welfare reform, a balanced budget, debt reduction, a strict “Pay as You Go” fiscal regime, a boom in technology jobs, budget surpluses, NAFTA, GATT, official bans on gay marriage, etc. -- were finally realized.

And for all of his good work on behalf of their ideology, Conservatives spent eight, long years treating Bill Clinton -- a Southern, White, Christian man -- as if he were a case of flesh eating nuclear syphilis.

Because he did not run for office with an "(R)" after his name.

And because he did not run for office with an "(R)" after his name, according to the leading voices in the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement, Bill Clinton was, in no particular order, Hitler, a Socialist, a rapist, a warmonger, a serial murderer, and a drug dealer, whose Presidency was somehow vaguely illegitimate.

And counterpointing the 24/7 slime campaign, there were those endless, endless hearings. Whitewater. Travel office. Christmas Card lists. Lincoln bedroom. Etc ad nauseum.

Or don’t you remember?

He was “Not my President!” (Ollie North: War criminal, terrorist arms dealer, GOP Senate Candidate [1994] and FoxNews Contributor.)

He was warned “not to set foot in my state.” (Jesse Helms: Professional Bigot, Confederate Senator, 1820-2003)

His picture was used for target practice by G. Gordon Liddy. (Watergate felon, would-be assassin, radio 'personality' and Republican hero.)

From "The American Prospect":'s worth remembering just how virulent the opposition to Clinton's presidency was. Republicans began plotting to impeach Clinton long before anyone had ever heard the name "Lewinsky," and many on the right simply refused to accept that he legitimately occupied the office he held. Then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, when talking to Democrats, used to refer to Clinton as "your president."

It was a warped, hysterical campaign funded by wealthy Right Wing thugs like Richard Mellon Scaife and propagated by wealthy Right Wing thugs like Rupert Murdoch who made sure the lies were jack-hammered into the headlines day after day, year after year.

It didn't begin with Barack Obama and it has continued to the present day, sinking with help of the mainstream media, including Maureen Dowd (described here and here), the candidacy of Al Gore. Attacks on President Clinton were routine, as these quotes indicate:

“Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?”
-Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

“This is President Clinton’s war, and when he falls flat on his face, that’s his problem.”
-Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)

And my personal favorite, uttered in the days when Tom DeLay and other prominent Republicans thought Al Qaeda was a minor nuisance and Osama bin Laden a mere annoyance:

“Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly.”
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX

There are reasons for the remarkable and despicable (but not extraordinary) and irrational hatred directed against President Obama. One of them is the disturbing influence of the self-serving antics of the second most popular radio talk show host in the nation, who has described himself as "a rodeo clown;" and of the nation's most popular radio talk show host and loyal corporate apologist. Race is a factor but easily overrated and making the charge without powerful evidence that it is the prime catalyst behind the right-wing assault on the presidency denies recent GOP history and obscures more complex motivation, preventing a full exploration of the extremist mind of the early 21st century. And it is a backlash waiting to happen.

1 comment:

Dan said...

This Joe Wilson story certainly gets more interesting each day. Now we have Jimmy Carter telling us his grave concern about opposition to the President stemming from hatred and racism (apparently the hatred towards Bush wasn't concerning to him because that was not racist and was clearly justified) and we have the wise Maureen Dowd telling us that Wilson didn't like being talked down to by a "brainy black President" and he really meant to say "you lie, boy!"

I'm so glad we have these enlightened people to tell us the true motives and thoughts of others. For some reason, I'm just not so perceptive.

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