Aug 31 2009

How We Got Here – Some Thoughts on Clinton, Bush and Obama

Category: Bush,Clinton,Obamaamuzikman @ 9:11 am

We now have an occupant in the White House who, by rational measure was woefully lacking in the experience necessary to hold the office of the Presidency.  Barak Obama was elected, not on his record, but on a promise, the promise of hope and change.  For many this meant people had hope that Obama would be a change from George Bush.  By the end of 2008, Bush had become so vilified that just about any Democrat could have been elected.  We as a nation are now beginning to understand the hope and change many of us desired was not the same hope and change Obama had in mind.

How did we get here?  How did the desire for hope and change so completely trump experience, expertise and knowledge?

I think one of the primary roots of our current state of Presidential affairs lies with Bill Clinton.  Now lest anyone begin to roll their heads and bemoan another “blame Clinton” post, let me assure the reader I do not blame Clinton so much as I mark his presidency as a sort of genesis from which has developed our present situation.

Clinton’s immoral sexual activities before and during his tenure as president, including the Monica Lewinski affair, were frankly considered despicable by many. They do not need to be reiterated.  But here is the salient point: As a result of his actions, including continually seeking to satisfying his apparently insatiable libido as well as lying under oath, he came to be despised by many.  Put another way, in my opinion, Clinton earned the disrespect he got. A look back at the Clinton years easily reveals how it was his actions that led many to form less-than-glowing opinions of the man.

Then came the election of George Bush in 2000. To me there was an almost instant and palpable dislike from the political left for this president.  George Bush was despised his first day in office, before he had time to take any actions.  It was almost as if his political foes said, “Oh, so you want to despise the president, huh? Well, we’ll show you how to despise a president.”  Having predetermined that Bush was despicable, every action taken by him was looked at through a lens of contempt.  Bush was stupid, Bush was an idiot, Bush destroyed our country, Bush lied and people died, etc.  And of course the mainstream media was all too willing to help keep up the constant drumbeat of “Bush-bashing”.  However, long before Bush did anything remotely deserving of contempt he was despised simply on a “tit for tat” basis vis a vis Bill Clinton.

Not that George Bush was the first Republican president subjected to scorn without cause.  Gerald Ford had his detractors’ frequent comments about his supposed “clumsiness”, his exemplary college athletics record not withstanding.  Vice President Dan Quayle was often portrayed as a man of low intelligence, proof of which came to many in the spelling of the word “potato” (click here if you don’t know what I am talking about).  Ronald Reagan was old and senile, etc.

But somehow the rhetoric took a far nastier turn with GWB.  He was a complete moron who has brought our country to the brink of ruin, according to many.  (As an aside I find it fascinating that a man who holds degrees from both Yale and Harvard, was a pilot in the Air National Guard, led several successful business enterprises, was elected 4 times as Texas governor, and served 2 terms as President of the United States, could be considered an imbecile…but I digress).  Now and for the foreseeable future Bush is the root of all evil to many.  One doesn’t have to explain anything – simply saying, “well, at least we don’t have that idiot, Bush, in there any more”, is enough for many.  But is it enough for the future of this (once) great nation?

So, we now have Barack Obama; he’s articulate, he has great stage presence, he is good looking, he inspires, he gives us hope, he will bring change.  He’s not like that idiot, Bush, etc., etc., etc.  Books have been published chronicling the gaffs of President Bush.  There will never be such a book about Barak Obama, no matter what he says or does. We allowed the political foes of Bush to shape public perception of him.  We now allow the friends of Obama to do the same for him (methinks they are but one in the same).

We have elected a man who is not adequate to the task, but who has risen on a wave of contempt for his predecessor and a rhetorical gift that seems to have the power to sway.  But sooner than later he and all his supporters will have to forsake the blaming of George W. Bush for all ills past, present,  and future. This president will stand and be judged on his own record.  I hope it won’t be too late when it happens.

Maybe we should find some other criteria upon which to elect our next President of the United States.  Perhaps next time we should investigate the record, the principles, the associates, the history, the core beliefs, and the policy intentions of our candidates.  Perhaps hope and change weren’t such a substantive platform after all.

Leave a Reply