A campaign memo by Joe Erwin, former South Carolina Democrat Party chair and current Obama supporter, has come up with the most perfectly apposite one-line summation of the Clintons I have ever seen in print.
To assess the resonance of that opening sentence, let me offer the estimate that I have read the equivalent of three truckloads of articles about the Clintons over the years, pro and con. Well, mostly con. Although they are pro con men. (Con people?)
Yes, it’s true. After nearly two decades of conservative writers spluttering and sputtering, hyperventilating and gesticulating, gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair, seeking the mot juste to encapsulate the smarminess, the tackiness, the sleaziness, the ickiness, the scabby, weasely, hokey corruption that is the Clinton legacy, one Democrat political operative in South Carolina has scooped them all by getting it just right. Quoth Erwin (what relation to the late Senator Sam?): “There is an old South Carolina saying that goes like this — some people would rather climb a tree to tell a fib than stand on the ground and tell the truth.”
Wow! Shazzam! Exactly right.
The thing that has offended decent people most about the Clintons is not so much the act of lying, a sin engaged in to one degree or another by most politicians, but the blithe disregard of truth as a standard for human communication. They lie not only for political gain, not only for personal gain, but for the sheer pleasure of controlling the version of their reality that is etched into the public consciousness.
None of this means that it would be politically expedient for my agenda were Hillary to lose the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. On the contrary, Obama is an immensely likeable young man who strikes me as a more formidable foe for the Republicans than old retread Hillary Clinton. He brings the sort of freshness to the table that virtually no Republican in national politics can match. The closest example on the right would be freshman Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.
Be that as it may, I am prepared to accept the additional level of risk in the general election. It is worth that price to rid our Presidential politics of this surpassingly awful couple; this tainted tandem has polluted our politics long enough. Send them back into the swamp whence they came and let us settle the matters critical to the future of our nation in a reasoned and balanced tone. Even if they go, they will leave behind enough squid ink to keep the waters foggy for years to come.
It is not only me who think so, I can assure you. I hear it all around me in the salons of those who glory in the Constitution, bask in our history and exult in the protection of individual liberty. We’ll take our chances with Barack, they tell me: you don’t look too closely at the ordination of the clergyman who can successfully perform the exorcism.
None of us believe it yet, but hope springs eternal. Deep down, we have grown so accustomed to Clintons winning at all costs, their gloating echoes so deeply in our souls that we have grown phobic. Between the two of them, they have a winning streak that includes three gubernatorial contests in Arkansas, two presidencies and two senatorial campaigns in New York. Even when it looked like someone could beat them, like Ross Perot at one point and Rudy Giuliani at another, acts of God intervened on their behalf. Giuliani got cancer and Perot went insane or something.
How long, how long? “Until when, O Lord?”
Even as we pray, they continue to prey. Hillary is out there in lawyer suits convincing womankind that they are somehow a separate breed of human being and should vote en masse for any one of their number who runs for any office. Bill is out there berating news reporters for seeking to dispense conflict rather than clarity, vitriol rather than verity. It takes one to know one, Mr. President, and it takes about half the country to know the two of you. My question is this: if you finally go away, is there a pill we can take to forget you were ever here?
Climb the tree to tell a fib, eh? I love it. Now let’s see if they Barack up the wrong tree.