In last night’s smackdown, Sean Hannity dealt with Rocky’s case for impeachment not by rationally challenging Rocky’s arguments, but by attempting to frame the entire case as a pathological hatred of President Bush. I believe he dismissed Rocky’s points several times as hatred, and then ridiculed that the alleged hatred of Rocky and liberals for the President.
…everything, if the dog bites, if the bee stings, if you you’re feeling sad everything is George Bush’s fault. Now, some of you, some of you drank heavily tonight. When you wake up tomorrow you’re not going to feel good. It’s George Bush’s fault, it’s not yours. Some of you women may get pregnant. If you do, it’s not your fault, it’s George Bush’s fault. (KSL)
According to Hannity, Rocky is merely fixated on Bush.
In a bemusing twist, Hannity not long afterwards turned his attention to ex-President Clinton. In a mocking impersonation, he implied that Clinton had ineptly botched an opportunity to capture Bin Laden. He further implies that the mess we’re in now, the entire “War on Terror” and presumably 9/11 itself, is the fault of Clinton.
Who is fixating on whom?
I can’t say I was surprised. Rarely does a conservative pundit debate national policy or politics without finding a way to bring it and abuse one or both of the Clintons.
Why is it that the Clintons have become the conservative boogeyman? Why is it that the pair rate right up with Darth Vader on their list of villains? Neither of them are arch-liberals. He created a few national monuments, implemented a handful of environmental and labor regulations, and went through the motions to put hold Microsoft accountable for anti-competitive business practices. Thats about it. Nothing which conservatives would be happy about, but hardly the end of the world. On the other hand, he did support NAFTA and the continued expansion of power of the WTF, both of which promote “free” trade. He supported economic policies which promoted the growth of corporate America and globalization. He played a big role in balancing the budget. On the balance, I think he helped advance conservative more than he hurt it. His one big truly liberal effort, health care reform, was ill-planned and easily defeated. You can argue that he tried wagging the dog in Middle-East, but he got the U.S. involved in no major, costly military episodes from which he could not extricate the nation or which had negative long-term consequences for the U.S.
Oh yes, and he was unfaithful to his wife. A terrible sin surely—for him and his wife. But it really isn’t the business of you, me, or the conservative noise machine. He isn’t the first President to have fallen into infidelity, nor the only high-profile politician at the time to have made such a mistake (I wonder if Dobson mentioned anything to Gingrich about throwing stones).
The loathing of Hillary is even more perplexing. You would think that, as victim of Bill’s sins, she would elicit some sympathy. But no. She may be even more reviled among conservatives.
“Anybody but her!” Hannity contemptuously declared when asked which candidate he wanted to become the next president. This very moderate Democrat, hardly deserving of the label “liberal,” is apparently the worst possible choice for president among the contenders. Other candidates have more liberal agendas and histories, but she is the one he fears most, the one he singles out for a derisive video presentation.
Is it some subconscious male-chauvinism deeply-rooted in the conservative philosophy? Conservatives tend to love the quiet, demur Laura Bush standing quietly behind her husband, and the matronly Barbara playing the doting grandmother for the cameras. But women who don’t know their place, who are willing to speak out, take stands, and show ambition—maybe that’s a bit too threatening for the traditionally patriarchical conservatives.
I’m no fan of either Clinton. From the first time I saw Bill debating the other aspiring Democratic candidates in 1991, I felt he exuded insincerity and was subtly malicious in his campaigning (deja vu in 1999; I got exactly the same vibe from Bush while he fought off McCain). I never voted for him. I was bitterly disappointed that he was willing to pursue such an agenda of economic globalization and “free” trade. I was never fond of his willingness to support corporate interests, particularly when it helped fill his campaign coffers. From a liberal perspective, the Clinton administration was mediocre, and I’ve no confidence based on her record or her willingness to change opinions when it suits her interests that Hillary’s would be any better.
But mediocre hardly deserves the level of scorn conservatives continue to heap upon Bill. It hardly merits the frequency with which Bill is dredged up in conversations about current political problems, or the frequency with which Hillary is held up as a boogeyman to scare religious folk, soccer moms, and small children (literally!).
The Clintons have their share of weaknesses and failings. Heaven knows that they are hardly models of integrity as politicians or liberals. But they did not create the conditions which foster hatred among the denizens of the Middle-East. They did not ignore the threat Bin Laden posed prior to 9/11. They did not involve us in a war under false pretenses, ill-planned and ill-prepared. Conservatives need to realize that they will do nothing to undermine the liberal ideology by burning the Clintons in effigy—we just don’t care enough about them for it to do anything but make the conservative torchbearers look silly.