Now We Get the Real Clinton

I have to admit, I was pretty much as fooled by Clinton as anyone back in the 90’s. Yes, he was a jerky husband, but he seemed to be really smart, to understand global relationships, and to be able to foster a strong economy.

Now that he has become the front man in a smear campaign against Barack Obama, I find myself thinking and saying the kinds of things about Bill Clinton that Rush Limbaugh used to say on the radio.

My wife and I watch the debates, and get nauseous at the misrepresentations and attacks. Not that Obama has proven particularly resilient at defending himself, but this sort of intentional fact twisting is more reminiscent of Atwater’s techniques than it is the herald of some new focus on important social policies. Really, it’s shameful. It’s Giulianesque.

Perhaps the rationale of the entire strategy is supposed be something like this: We, the Clintons, are going to lie about Obama just to give you a little preview of what the Republicans will do. No, we’re not telling the truth – that’s not the point. We’re simply *pretending* to be really mean to demonstrate Obama’s inability to fend off the kinds of ruthless attacks that will come if he wins the nomination. Meanwhile, we are also showing how dirty we are willing to play to win the election (thus all the talk of “this is the fun part” and “we’re just getting started”). The Democrats will need to be as dirty as the Republicans, and we Clintons are ruthless enough to get the job done. After all, winning is the important part, right?

Or something like that.

But if a guy like McCain wins the nomination, oh boy, the shoe will be on the other foot. The NeoCon’s NeoCon is anything if not honorable in his engagements. He fights war the old fashioned way, and will make the Clintons (if they win the nomination) look so dirty by comparison that many many Dems will vote for him instead of the old regime. It will mean more war, less attention to the economy and social services, and an even more aggressive neoconservative posture abroad.