Sunday, March 15, 2015

Maureen Dowd Rides Again

Maureen Dowd is back on her game.

Dowd was always at her best when writing about the Clintons. She was never taken in by the down-home aw-shucks thoroughly-modern I-feel-your-pain routine that they successfully sold to the nation.

One might say that liberal-leaning columnists, terrified by the distinct possibility that Hillary will lead the Democratic Party to ignominious defeat, are trying to open the door for another candidate, any candidate.

But, Dowd has been consistent, so she is clearly not a part of the vast left-wing conspiracy.

In her column today Dowd posts an open letter to the Clintons:

It has come to our attention while observing your machinations during your attempted restoration that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our democracy: The importance of preserving historical records and the ill-advised gluttony of an American feminist icon wallowing in regressive Middle Eastern states’ payola.

Several other columnists, among them Ron Fournier of National Journal, have suggested that the Clinton shakedown of Middle Eastern states will ultimately be a bigger scandal than the emails.

For her part Dowd is contemptuous of Hillary. As in this description:

If you, Hillary Rodham Clinton, are willing to cite your mother’s funeral to get sympathy for ill-advisedly deleting 30,000 emails, it just makes us want to sigh: O.K., just take it. If you want it that bad, go ahead and be president and leave us in peace. (Or war, if you have your hawkish way.) You’re still idling on the runway, but we’re already jet-lagged. It’s all so drearily familiar that I know we’re only moments away from James Carville writing a column in David Brock’s Media Matters, headlined, “In Private, Hillary’s Really a Hoot.”

Even though Dowd would be delighted to see a woman become president, she fears that a Hillary presidency would exact too high a moral price.

In her words:

What is the trade-off that will be exacted by the Chappaqua Republic for that yearned-for moment? When the Rogue State of Bill began demonizing Monica Lewinsky as a troubled stalker, you knew you could count on the complicity of feminists and Democratic women in Congress. Bill’s female cabinet members and feminist supporters had no choice but to accept the unappetizing quid pro quo: The Clintons would give women progressive public policies as long as the women didn’t assail Bill for his regressive private behavior with women.

Now you, Hillary, are following the same disheartening “We’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse” pattern. You started the “Guernica” press conference defending your indefensible droit du seigneur over your State Department emails by referring to women’s rights and denouncing the letter to Iran from Republican senators as “out of step with the best traditions of American leadership.”

The Clintons make themselves essential by demonizing their opposition. Here Dowd asks the right question, a question that I have often raised.

When the nation elevates the Clintons, what does it do to its moral being? People emulate their betters. They will always want to emulate the man or woman who occupies the highest office in the land. And that means, they emulate what they known, whether good or bad.

What example do the Clintons set and what happens to a nation that emulates it:

Because you assume that if it’s good for the Clintons, it’s good for the world, you’re always tangling up government policy with your own needs, desires, deceptions, marital bargains and gremlins.

Instead of raising us up by behaving like exemplary, sterling people, you bring us down to your own level, a place of blurred lines and fungible ethics and sleazy associates. Your family’s foundation gobbles tens of millions from Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes, whose unspoken message is: “We’re going to give you money to go improve the world. Now leave us alone to go persecute women.”

When it comes to Hillary, Dowd does not restrain herself:

Hillary, your syndrome is less mortal, more regal, a matter of “What Is Hillary Owed?” Ronald Reagan seemed like an ancient king, as one aide put it, gliding across the landscape. You seem like an annoyed queen, radiating irritation at anyone who tries to hold you accountable. You’re less rhetorically talented than Bill but more controlling, so it’s harder for you to navigate out of tough spots.

Lest you imagine that Dowd has suddenly had an ephphany about the Clinton, the New York Times tweeted her August 19, 1998 column, written in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. To her credit Dowd has always seen the Clinton problem clearly.

When Dowd looked into the media’s discourse about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal she saw the heavy hand of the therapy culture:

We are deep into psychobabble.

Do we have closure, healing, catharsis? Are Bill and Hillary Clinton still in denial? Is the First Lady an enabler? Is her anger at Kenneth Starr and the press simply transference? Through confrontation, has the President broken his pattern of recovery and loss, of compulsive, addictive, destructive behavior?

Are we ready to give our bad boy in the White House a hug?

President Clinton is the Grand Canyon of need. He can never stay focused for long on running the country and the world because it gets in the way of his favorite pastime, a warped little mind game called ''How Much Do You Love Me?''

The wild-child President enjoys dipping into his dark side – ‘’Saturday Night Clinton,’’ Dick Morris calls it – and engaging in the sort of hooliganism that requires everyone around him to make soul-wrenching compromises.

Dowd and some sensible feminists were chagrined to see that Bill Clinton had turned so many feminists into “risible hypocrites.” Doubtless they fell for Clinton’s boyish charm:

He turned feminists who fought so hard against Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood into risible hypocrites. He would give them progressive public policies for women if they defended him on regressive private behavior with women.

Women in Congress who had stuck with Mr. Clinton through his seven months of living dangerously were furious about Monica yesterday. ''It's the grossest kind of infidelity,'' one told me, ''just sheer constant physical relief and satisfaction, really using in the crudest way somebody who was obviously extraordinarily gullible and obviously madly in love with him, somebody who would have done anything for him, and doing this in the Oval Office. I'm having a very hard time with it. I don't want to be an enabler.''

Dowd was no less kind toward Hillary:

The President gave his loyal, accomplished wife a choice between the two roles she most dreads: victim or liar. Either this superbrainy lawyer and strategist did not know her husband was lying, making our most modern First Lady a dupe in the oldest story in the world. Or she did know, meaning that she lied when she defended him on the ''Today'' show.

What is the Clinton strategy? How far are they willing to go to save themselves and their political viability? Do they care about the example they are setting for America and the world? Do you think that America will be more or less respected around the world under a Hillary presidency?

Dowd was disgusted for having to answer such questions:

The Clintons attack Mr. Starr to deflect attention from the President's immoral behavior. They appeal to decent American impulses -- we do not like lynch mobs, we do not like hate-mongering, we do not like women who rat out girl friends, we do not like Big Brother peeking through bedroom windows. The Clintons elicit our public-spirited impulses and use them for their private political gain.

But the choices they ask us to make are false ones.

You can think the notion of impeachment is ludicrous and still think that Mr. Clinton has acted with monstrous selfishness.

You can think Mr. Starr's investigation has been scary and still believe that a President should tell Americans the truth at the first opportunity, not the last.

You can think Linda Tripp rides on a broomstick and still believe that a President should not ask an intern to service him.

By expecting others to sacrifice so much to preserve his political viability, Mr. Clinton has killed something worthy and important in public life.

Which moral virtue has Bill Clinton killed? Nothing less than the notion of the benevolent leader, the leader who does what is best for the nation, regardless of what is good for him.


Ares Olympus said...

I'm very happy Dowd impresses you, but the issues do seem rather tedious. People wouldn't even care except for Hillary's presidential ambitions.

I still don't much care, except wondering about the nature of privacy.

How should public officials express themselves? How do they separate personal and official "private" communications? How do they speak or write frankly if they know everything they say willl be recorded and used against them, or someone who deserves privacy.

Does anyone have any opinions? Ah, here's one from last week...
But things are different today, and public servants know it. Emails, electronic notes sent via email -- they are here and, frankly, it is difficult to do business without them. Particularly if your business spans every time zone. What do public servants do? Governor Cuomo directed an auto-delete of State government emails after three months. So, if his midnight ideas turn out to be unworkable, or just not well thought through, a prosecutor, a reporter and the public would only have 90 days to seize the moment. This assuming the prosecutor or FOIA requestor armed with a court order can't get some computer archaeologist equipped with technology to dig up remains that somehow were not really deleted.
We will likely never know from her the real reason why Secretary Clinton used a non-government email account. We can only presume she was trying to make sure that certain emails would never see the light of day in the first place, aside from the parties to the email communication. In other words, was she attempting to treat her emails as written notes she would have kept in olden days, i.e., before the internet?
So how do we get valuable people to yield the privacy of their electronic communications in the name of public service? Maybe, just maybe, we need to create a zone of privacy that will encourage public officials to communicate their candid thoughts over email while in office -- given that conducting business without email is simply no longer a tenable option -- by ensuring that the email exchanges will have some protection from publication.
Looking back through history, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act, he acknowledged its pros and cons. Yes, it was important that secrecy be lifted so that the public could have information but, there were some secrets that were just as important: "Officials within Government must be able to communicate with one another fully and frankly without publicity. They cannot operate effectively if required to disclose information prematurely or to make public investigative files and internal instructions that guide them in arriving at their decisions."

Perhaps these were the "secrets" Secretary Clinton (and apparently many before her) were trying to keep.

At least this question is interesting.

priss rules said...

"When the nation elevates the Clintons, what does it do to its moral being? People emulate their betters. They will always want to emulate the man or woman who occupies the highest office in the land. And that means, they emulate what they known, whether good or bad."

Clintons are sleaze, true.

But are GOP politicians any better?

They even cave on 'gay marriage' because Wall Street and Las Vegas oligarchs(like Sheldon Adelson) want it.

They are all whores.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Didn't President Nixon resign the presidency because he couldn't keep his Oval Office recordings private?

I guess he needed a server at home to channel the MP3 files to. Then it all would've been okay.

Isn't the government collecting all our phone calls and emails at some ginormous data warehouse in Nevada?

Hillary is special. She's a victim.

What difference does it make? "They're all whores," right priss rules?

Anonymous said...

Govt. munchkins are going to prison for doing what Hill & Petraeus did.

Hill is Not v intelligent. She flunked the DC bar exam twice. She married well.

Mary McCarthy about Lillian Hellman: "Everything that comes out of her mouth is a Lie - including And & The". The Clintons in a nutshell. Plus "Is".

Duplicity for Raison d'Etat is necessary. For personal gain it's evil.

I dearly hope we get better leaders. -- Rich Lara

Dennis said...

Rich Lara,

I don't think we are going to get better leaders until we get a better media. I am beginning to believe the old canard that states "Those who do, do. Those who don't teach and those who cannot do either become journalists."(SIC) And as a matter of course those who do not fit in any of the categories above become politicians.
One of the reasons I like term limits is that for the few who go into politics to actually represent their constituents are not there long enough to be corrupted.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I love term limits.

My proposal would be for 12 years (6 terms) in the House of Representatives, and 18 years (3 terms) in the senate as maximums. I would also stipulate that someone who served in the House could become a Senator, but a Senator could never become a Representative (they could not go "backwards"). This would make the Senate truly the "upper house" of the legislative branch, and would make Senate races much more competitive. Perhaps we would get better, more wise leaders in the Senate. This proposal protects the "institutional memory" of the Senate, while making the House more responsive and representative of the people's wishes. And those seeking "public service" in the legislature could only serve in that capacity for 30 years maximum (if they ran the full length under what I'm proposing). That's enough time in power for anyone.

That said, my ideal would be to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment and let the states choose their Senators again. I don't care how corrupt the process was back in the Progressive era... each state legislature selecting their Senators would halt all these unfunded Federal mandates and other fleecing of state governments. The only reason to allow each state to have two Senators is to protect state sovereignty and prerogatives under true federalism. Otherwise, it might as well be proportional representation, and if it is, there's no need for a bicameral legislature.

I would also forbid people who are not currently serving as Senators or Representatives (or Speaker of the House) to retain or use those titles in any form after they leave office. It is patently silly to call Newt Gingrich "Mister Speaker" today. They work for us. These are not permanent titles, even honorary. The honor is being chosen to serve, and after that... the honor falls away.

I would also cap Fedral judicial service at 32 years, including the Supreme Court. Serving on the Federal bench over the course of four presidents (assuming each president was elected to two terms each in the intervening years, which is the maximum) is enough for anyone. Today's judiciary is not functioning as the Framers intended, and has not been for some time now. They were given a mandate to interpret the law, not make it. If the Framers thought to have the judiciary operating the way it does today, they would've put a clear check on that power, as it is so expansive. Judicial review may make sense, but there needs to be a better mechanism to check it, if necessary.

Every person wielding Federal power should be guaranteed -- as much as is humanly possible -- to have a political career sunset, and know they will live like normal citizens again. Perhaps that would offer a dose of humility. It looks like even popes are more humble these days than our Federal leaders.