Monday, October 27, 2014

Bill Clinton tells President Obama to man up

Reality is a funny thing. It exists independently of our perceptions yet our perceptions are the only way in which we know reality. Our perceptions can color our "version" of reality. There are literally an infinite number of ways by which to generate the number 4. 2+2 = 4 is likely the first one that came to your mind. But let's say you work for a boss who who was taught to express the number 4 as the square root of 16. And let's say that is the only way which he permits anyone who works for him to express the number 4. His version of reality is accurate but it's not accurate to suggest that that is the ONLY version of reality. So just as in mathematics, in politics there are a number of competing and complementary narratives which all might describe reality yet look very different from each other. I suppose if someone had soundly beaten my wife, sister or other close female relative for something which she wanted very badly and yet asked for my help or her help shortly after doing so, my feelings for that man might best be described as complex. There is a Ben Harper song "Roses from my friends" which has the chorus "The stones from my enemies, these wounds will mend, but I cannot survive the roses from my friends". Former President Clinton may have shown how his version of reality differs from President Obama's while handing the President a thorn covered rose. Both in 2012 and in a recent interview with PBS, former President Clinton said that as far as personal attacks go, he's had it worse than President Obama even as he concedes that the partisan gridlock is worse today.
"Nobody's accused him [President Obama] of murder yet, as far as I know. I mean it was pretty rough back then. I think that most people underappreciate the level of extreme partisanship that took hold in '94."
President Obama heads into midterm elections in which he may face crushing losses. He has been spurned by his own party, whose candidates do not even want to be seen with him. The president’s supporters say the toxic atmosphere in Washington has made it impossible for Mr. Obama to succeed. Whatever Mr. Clinton’s motivations, his comments, which his former aides frequently refer to when the topic comes up, do not permit Mr. Obama to excuse his legislative setbacks by simply citing hyper-partisanship. As one former White House aide to Mr. Clinton put it: “They impeached our guy." 
Even Mr. Clinton’s old rival, Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the House, said people had a gauzy view of the Clinton years. “Everyone is doing the, ‘Gee, Newt and Bill got things done, why can’t Obama get anything done?’ routine,” Mr. Gingrich said. “Maybe it’s driving Bill nuts.” The underlying implication is that Mr. Obama does not have it so rough. Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Clinton criticize the current president for being less able or willing than his Democratic predecessor to woo congressional Republicans. 
Some of the venom directed at Mr. Obama has a racial component that Mr. Clinton, a relatable white Southerner, never had to deal with, said Douglas G. Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “The Clintons created huge problems of their own making,” Mr. Brinkley added, while “Obama’s problem is that he bullheadedly pushed Obamacare, and he happens to be African-American.” “You can’t get more personal than questioning a person’s veracity for where he was born,” said Mr. Galston, the former Clinton aide, referring to the “birther” conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate."
LINK (Please read this entire article as it's actually quite good)

It's true that as of this writing President Obama has not been impeached. Of course as far as I know he's not getting intern provided oral sex in the White House and lying about it under oath either. So there's that. Should that happen and President Obama not be impeached then we have a better "apples to apples" comparison. Still it can be true both that President Obama has had to deal with a level of opposition which other Presidents didn't face and that President Obama has had rose colored glasses about the fact that the opposing party doesn't like him and is not in fact, required to work with him. In my opinion he's only belatedly arriving at that realization. I disagree with former President Clinton about the nature of the attacks that President Obama has faced. Conservatives and Republicans have attacked President Obama's religion, race, citizenship, intelligence and sexuality in a way that they didn't do to President Clinton. I don't say that Clinton had it easy. Right wingers compared his daughter's looks to that of a dog, called his wife a lesbian and suggested he and she murdered people. Nevertheless they were willing to work with President Clinton in a way which they have generally refused to do with President Obama. IIRC no mainstream conservative intellectual called President Clinton's mother a fat whore with a fetish for non-white men. 

It's difficult to walk in someone else's shoes. Empathy only goes so far, especially with someone who has a completely different personality than you and who came out of nowhere to defeat your wife. Apparently that still rankles.

What do you think?

Did President Clinton have it worse than President Obama?

Is President Clinton making inaccurate and self-centered comments?

Will President Clinton's comments help his wife if she runs again for President?

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