I am going to miss the Clintons. The news is so boring now. No mysterious files accidentally showing up, no intern jokes, no allegations of rape, no finger-wagging denials, no creative testimony in depositions, no “wag-the-dog” wars, no sexual harassment settlements, no court sanctions. None of the things that we will associate with the Clinton presidency. Now we are stuck with discussions on how education should be reformed and our taxes cut. Boring.

Thank goodness Clinton couldn’t leave office without a few more “scandals.” I hesitate to call them scandals since I think that they are just misunderstandings. For example, pardoning a big time tax evader who funneled money to the Democratic Party was really just Clinton showing that he was also for tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent of Americans. If only we had given Clinton a few more years, he would have reformed the tax code to include a little box at the top of your 1040 that would say, “Check here if you are supposed to pay a whole bunch of taxes and would prefer to run off to Switzerland and donate to the DNC instead.”

Of course, in true Republican fashion, there will be investigations into all of the Clinton’s shenanigans. As evidence surfaced of the “W” keys being removed from all the White House keyboards, file cabinets being glued shut and pornography being littered about, one senior Clinton official explained that he was one of the last ones to leave and everything was in order. I am sure he is correct; it is all just a matter of perspective. Of course, removing the “W” keys was just a practical joke. Republicans think that the file cabinets were glued shut in an act of vandalism. For the Clinton staff, it was just a way to deal with all of the documents that were subpoenaed. Also, I am sure that there is a reasonable explanation for the pornography. Surely the previous administration merely forgot to take all of their belongings with them.

Despite what you may think, I carry fond memories of the Clintons. I will miss his self-serving approach to governing. I got teary eyed when he gave his farewell address to the nation where he assured us that he left the economy in good shape. I know that we have been in a bear market for over a year, and all of the economic indicators say the economy is going south, but it all depends how you define “economy.” We should cut Clinton some slack. Considering all of the trips that he has taken during his nostalgia tour, he didn’t have time to deal with boring old issues like keeping the lights on in California. I guess he didn’t understand that “turn the lights out when you leave” is just an expression.

I am sure that Bush is also pleased with Clinton’s performance in office. I don’t think it would be possible to set the bar of expectations any lower. It may be difficult to try and rent out the Lincoln Bedroom the way the Clintons did – especially now that they took all the furniture with them.

Thanks to the Clintons we have had eight great years of material for Leno, Letterman and Saturday Night Live. Now all we get are jokes about how dumb Bush is. Of course, it is a bit ironic coming from the party that believes butterfly ballots are hopelessly confusing and that chads are impossible to punch out. But I won’t go there.

As for impeachment, we shouldn’t blame Clinton. Was it his fault that Monica kept the dress? If it weren’t for that he would have been able to go on with his original plan of calling her an obsessed stalker. And if it weren’t for Linda Tripp, Clinton would never have had to admit that he lied in the first place. Everything would have worked out perfectly. Clinton would have been able to lie, Monica would have corroborated and Tripp would have been dealt with “Kathleen Willey” style. It was just bad luck for Clinton.

It’s not like Bush hasn’t had his own scandals during the first few days in office. I mean, John Ashcroft for Attorney General? That guy actually believes in God. What a nut! Not to mention the fact that he once voted against appointing a black man to the federal bench. Racist. I can’t think of any other Senator who voted against a black man for a federal judgeship – well, at least since 1991.

Bush also seems a little naÔve. I mean, come on, his tax cut plan actually applies to everyone who pays taxes. What sort of idea is that? Cutting taxes for everyone, rather than pitting one group against another. Boy, this guy is new to Washington.



Long time, no write. So much has happened since last we spoke with each other that I hardly know where to start. I realize I have to say something about the new administration, but just what are we to discuss? So many bad things have happened since January 20th that it’s hard to decide which particular elements of the Republican disaster we should explore together today.

I’d considered beginning, just to break the ice, with some amusing wordplay based on George W. Bush’s comical last name. Perhaps “we’ve been Bushwhacked,” or something to that effect. I now think, however, that I may have been beaten to the punch on that one already. Besides, how far can you coast on meaningless catchphrases? Well, pretty far actually, if the new leader of the free world is any indication.

I thought then that I might take up, as an organizing motif, what may be the last year for a long while that truly lends itself to clichÈd pop culture references. After having Big Brother watching us in 1984, kicking up our heels and partying like it was 1999 and venturing forth on any number of odysseys here in 2001, we look to have a pretty dry spell ahead. Maybe there’ll be lots of vision jokes on tap for 2020, but the immediate future doesn’t look too bright.

Looking equally bleak, as expected, are the prospects for seeing any sort of intelligent proposals coming out of the White House over the next four years. Not surprisingly, the Trojan horse of bipartisan politics and the siren song of compassionate conservatism are just a ruse and a cheat after all. Both are little more than failed attempts to cover up the same old Republican tactics.

Now I know what you’re thinking. GWB isn’t evil; he’s just kind of dumb. You’ll get no argument from me about how dumb he is. Bush recently decried certain aspects of the internal revenue code that he thought unfair. When a woman making $25,000 gets a $1000 raise, he said, she shouldn’t be taxed at an effective marginal rate of 50% on that thousand bucks. He felt pretty strongly about this too. “That’s not right, and that’s wrong,” exclaimed Bush, proving yet again that he’s not smart AND he’s stupid.

Yet, he’s not just intellectually incompetent. Georgie boy may not understand what he’s saying half of the time, but he’s learned not to say what he really means during that other, relatively lucid half. When he promised to change the rancorous tone in Washington, it turns out what he really meant was that any switch from politics as usual need not go further down the ladder than him and his empty smile. As long as he continues to yap about a new attitude, it seems he feels free to appoint whomever he wants to fill his cabinet.

To those Nader backers who, like the chairperson of the HLS Greens, saw fit to tell me there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, I can offer nothing more than a two-word answer. The first word of my answer is John, and the second word is Ashcroft. Would a President Gore have tapped this extremist, or anyone like him, to head up Justice?

Cognizant of the fact that I risk the permanent revocation of my liberal Democrat membership card for saying this, I have some sympathy for Christopher Dodd’s vote to confirm. Notwithstanding Ashcroft’s terrible record on civil rights, and his outright deception in Judge White’s case, I think he deserves a chance to prove he will uphold the law. In my opinion, the all-too-likely possibility that he will abdicate his responsibilities is t
oo prospective a proposition to keep him out of the position. His appointment is, nevertheless, another indication of the frightening and divisive choices that George W. Bush is prepared to make – preaching unity and cooperation while he’s busily working to hand DOJ over to the religious right.

Almost as frightening as Ashcroft is the scary fact that there are some people whom even Republicans themselves think of as dangerously unqualified to head up the Department of the Interior. “Republican environmentalist” may sound like an oxymoron, but, shockingly, such people do exist. The opposition to Gale Norton from within his own party should have set off alarm bells, but the compassionate Mr. Bush is apparently willing to forgive and forget all of the past failings of this James Watt protÈgÈ. How’s that for a unifying gesture? Bush has already managed to convince both Republicans and Democrats alike that he has no intention of protecting the environment.

Speaking of strange bedfellows, I wonder what we’re to make of the Republican haste to jump off the “let’s clean up television” bandwagon now that Joe Lieberman is the undeniable leader of that movement. When a 13 year-old boy sets himself on fire after watching a somewhat similar stunt on MTV’s “Jackass” program, it’s now up to the Democrats to call upon the cablecaster to make television safer for kids. Now whether or not copycat behavior is a real problem – whether TV makes kids violent – is open to debate. Whether Lieberman’s beseeching MTV to change its program schedule is too much governmental interference with the media is perhaps worth examination too.

What really puzzles me, though, is why the Republican spin doctors sent forth to comment on the issue are so opposed all of a sudden to exerting political pressure on TV executives. What happened to the good old days of conservative outrage over “Murphy Brown”? How can letting the kids watch fine MTV programming like this be a family decision? Once upon a time, even fictional characters on television were not free to decide how to structure their own families without Dan Quayle’s personal good housekeeping seal of approval. Is it bipartisan in any sense to signal to Democrats like Lieberman that as soon as you agree with us, we’ll make sure to change our tack and fight you every step of the way?

Talking about bringing people together is one thing, but actually doing it has proved to be very elusive for the new Republican regime in just its first three weeks in power. Kind of makes you wonder who’ll be wearing the donkey ears a few months from now.

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