Thursday, 27 September 2012

The 'Masterful' Bill Clinton.

On the Perils of Clintonism.

Since Bill Clinton made his rather glib speech at the Democratic National Convention the BBC has been running a three-part series of documentaries called The Clintons. It's subject is Bill Clinton, post-Reaganite America and the Clinton era of the rise of Third Way politics in the 1990s. Clinton was the first of the business Democrats who reconstructed the Democrats as a right-wing force of reaction and not of reform. The moderation of Dukakis and Mondale was jettisoned, after 12 years of Reaganism nothing short of a sharply conservative redirection of the Democratic Party. It had been in the works for a very long time, as the Kennedys and Carter had played a major role in the degeneration of New Deal liberalism into an electoral husk. The Kennedy liberals oversaw the expansion of the national security state as part of the launch of a criminal war in Indochina, while they took a knife to the top rate of tax for the wealthiest Americans.

After the creature of Nixon had been chased out of the White House it was Carter who initiated the first deregulatory measures on industry while he anointed Paul Volcker - who would soon become the hammer with which the poor would be battered. With that in mind Jimmy Carter was the last concession made to the grass-roots radicals of the 60s, before him there was George McGovern and since him there have been none. To get a feel of Bill Clinton's soul one only has to look to the 1992 campaign trail. The first sex scandal to preempt the Lewinsky scandal erupted with Gennifer Flowers coming forward to put it to the press that she had had a 12-year relationship with Clinton. The immediate response from the Clinton campaign was to act as though Clinton had anything to do with Flowers and only admitted to sleeping with her once several years later. The first objective was to change the subject for the press as it looked as though the story wouldn't just go away.

This is what The Clintons didn't include in its first episode. Clinton saw to it that Ricky Ray Rector was put to death in 1992. At the time, Rector was "seriously mentally impaired", to say the least as he had survived shooting himself in the head after he had shot a police officer in the back. But the court rejected the claim of grave mental impairment and gave Rector the death penalty. Clinton could have pardoned Rector, but instead he flew over to Arkansas to exploit Rector's execution to appear "tough on crime". On the night of his execution, Rector saved a slice of pecan pie to eat later, not understanding his death would come first. The sad irony is that Ricky told his incompetent lawyer that he would like to vote for Clinton. It took 45 minutes for the state's murderers to find a vein in Rector's arm into which they would shoot sodium thiopentol. Meanwhile Bill Clinton had dinner with Mary Steenburgen. And as for Clinton's way with women he has been accused of rape on more than one occasion.

As Christopher Hitchens saw, at the time, Bill Clinton demonstrated a willingness to pander to the racist subconscious of the electorate. On top of this, it was a presentation of ruthless harshness on Clinton's part and the ability to keep liberals on his side even when he stoops to this abysmal low. No one should've been surprised that Clinton would be willing then to bomb the only aspirin factory in Sudan to deflect media attention away from the notoriously semen-stained dress. Once again, the people who have to pay the price for Clinton's sexual conduct are not white and do not have the same privileges of a man of his economic and political status. Hitchens was right to conclude that the public and private face of Bill Clinton are one in the same, that the infidelities of this President was in tune with his most appalling political decrees. Not just Sudan, we shouldn't lose sight of Iraq where the Clintonites used sanctions to starve hundreds of thousands of people. Nor should we forget about the Turkish crimes committed against the Kurds with US arms supplied by Clinton.

The primary legacy of Clinton is the approach he pioneered - that of triangulation specifically. Basically, it amounted firstly to the looting of supportable planks from the Republican platform in order to bag the corporate funding that follows it. Secondly comes a series of psephological measures to "test the water" such as polling to see when it would be best to adopt the proposals. All the while the liberal Left are to be kept on board with the "lesser evil" allure of the Democratic platform. The extent to which the Clinton White House was able to coopt the Left into its base no matter what it did was quite incredible. Not just Ricky Ray Rectar and the aspirin factory in Sudan. Think Waco, where the FBI incinerated 82 people with the broad approval of the liberal Left. This is what convinced a network of lunatic right-wingers that something had to be done. In fact it ultimately led to the Oklahoma City bombing, its perpetrator had come out of the emergent militia movement and its hardline anti-political purism. Still, at least it wasn't for a blowjob.

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