Saturday, January 20, 2007

Remembering the Good Old Days

Reading Ronald A. Cass’s piece on Sandy Berger’s document theft, these paragraphs made me reminisce about the Clinton Presidency:

Politicians never like to admit mistakes. They see legitimate inquiries as politically inspired, which they often are. Changing the subject or shifting blame to others aren't tactics peculiar to the Clintons.

The Clintons, however, take the game of deny-deceive-and-distract to a new level. Their relentless personal attacks on Ken Starr were designed to undermine the credibility of information about Bill Clinton's perjury, to deflect attention from his own failings. Clinton's excessive reaction - complete with hyperbole, finger-wagging, and scolding - to a simple question from Fox News' Chris Wallace about his response to al-Qaeda is in the same vein. Something here touches a nerve.

This month marks six years without a Clinton Presidency. If the fates are kind to us, we’ll have another Clinton Presidency in a few years. It might not be good for America, but it would be a gold mine for talk show hosts and bloggers. Instant content!

The first and perhaps last Clinton Presidency made history in a few ways. Clinton was the first president never to stop campaigning and begin governing; it was the presidency of the permanent campaign. In fact, the campaign did not end with the presidency. Clinton is spinning his legacy now and will continue to campaign until he dies.

The Clinton Presidency set up a permanent war room to fight Republican attacks. If Clinton had set up a war room to wage war, he might have been a good president.

Clinton was the social metaphysician as President. Social metaphysics is a psychological problem in which a person places the opinions of other people above reality. What is true or good does not matter as much as what other people think. What Clinton actually accomplished was not as important as what he could make people think he accomplished. Polls became a metaphysical standard: if enough people approved of something the President did, then it was good.

It makes for an entertaining show if you can get past your initial disgust at a President so psychologically twisted that he can’t tell the difference between reality and the lies that come out of his mouth. How many normal people could say the following with a straight face?

It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.

The entertainment is intensified when the media decide their job is not to report the facts objectively but to serve as the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. Hey, with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News propagandizing for the right, it's only fair if the New York Times and CBS pitch in for left.

An interesting question for the philosophers: how is this political culture of subjectivity related to modern philosophy? Certainly, postmodernism, with its idea of truth as “narrative” fits Clinton well. Multiculturalism’s idea of different ethnic groups and sexes having different ways of thinking is a development of Marx’s idea of different classes having different logics. Marx was a Hegelian, Hegel was influenced by Kant…

But I’m over my head now, as I’ve read very little German philosophy other than Nietzsche, and I’m too old to start. I just turned 50, you know, and some things are foolish for a 50-year old man to pursue, such as 19-year old girls. With my time on earth dwindling, surely it would be foolish to attempt to read German philosophers. That’s my excuse, anyway. Maybe I should take a poll to see if I’m right.


Anonymous said...


You seem very depressed about being 50. I can understand as I am now 38 and I live in terror of turning 40. I can remember being 21 and thinking 30 was ancient. There's a line from the play Chicago that goes "I'm older than I ever thought I would be."

Anyway, I love your blog. I just wanted to post to commiserate with you.

Damn, I miss 19 year olds.

John Kim

Anonymous said...

Make that 19-year-old girls.

John Kim

Myrhaf said...

Thanks, John. I'm not really depressed about being 50. As George Burns used to say, considering the alternative...

It has made me more intensely aware that my time is finite and I need to manage it better. I need to think more about values and priorities -- a common reaction, I would guess, to turning 50. Although my body is aging, my mind and my spirit are still active and in many ways are still young. I have more intellectual curiosity than some teenagers I know. Which is not saying much, actually.