Category Archives: impeachment

DAILY OBSERVATION: Why is Bill Clinton so damned popular?

I was recently asked why Bill Clinton is so popular.  I decided to skip the topical news of the day to give my take on that question.  Maybe I am the one to explain because I sort of like the guy, myself.

Most Republicans, and virtually all my conservative colleagues, cringe at the mere mention of his name.  After all, he is, by all accounts, a scoundrel.  His trail to the White House is scattered with serial moral lapses and a few official corruptions to boot.  He disgraced the presidency with an inappropriate, to say the least, sexual relationship with an underling. He faced the American public via television and lied, lied and lied.  He took his lies to court and turned them into perjury.

Clinton admitted he knowingly gave “misleading and evasive” answers in his sworn depositions, but in true Clinton style, he said he was not actually lying.  The authorities did not agree, and he lost his law license and his place before the Supreme Court.  He even got himself impeached.

His legacy in office is a bit thin.  In terms of foreign policy, it was more like a disaster.

So, what is there to like about the guy?

It has always been my theory that the American public can show fondness for a wide range of personalities – from the most moral to the more corrupt, as long as they are not hypocrites.

At one point in time, Jimmy Carter, the soft spoken moralist, and Governor John Connolly, the back room wheeler-dealer from Texas, were two of the most popular political figures in America.   One became President and one fell few yards short of the goal line.  Both let the public see what they were – sort of a personal transparency.

From day one on the public stage, Bill Clinton came across as the “bad boy” type.  After each moral or ethical lapse, he did not fall on the floor in tears, begging for forgiveness with promises of never doing whatever again. Nope.  He sort of shrugged his shoulders and gave us that what-can-I-say look.

He gains because of his wife.  She is an intense, scolding and overall unpleasant person.  To be frank, she gives Bill a little how-can-you-blame-him automatic forgiveness for his extracurricular actions.  Yes, he says the right things about her in public because he does what he has to do.  But he is perfectly happy traveling the world for business and pleasure sans Hillary.  If she became President, I doubt the maid would have to change the sheets in the spare bedroom of the White House very often.

You should also recall that when she was his number one policy person, driving her version of Obamacare, Clinton was not too popular.  Once that failed, and she was relegated to more traditional First Lady duties, he became a more centrist president and his numbers improved.  In some polls, his numbers were worst during Hillarycare than the impeachment.  Go figure.

I have always thought his domestic policies were not so terrible.  He kept the momentum of Reaganomics going.  He did some real reform in welfare.  He knew how to produce economic growth.  While there are always varying views on policy, Clinton did not use divisiveness as a political tool.

One thing I personally appreciate about Clinton, although it was not his intent and many will deny it even happened, but he virtually destroyed the hardliner feminist movement.  Their defense of his inappropriate behavior with Monica Lewinsky was so hypocritical – with one major feminist saying she would perform sex on him for all he did –really turned off the public.  It is not well noted, but after the ladies of the left came to his rescue, their credibility was critically damaged.  The once ubiquitous Gloria Steinems and Patricia Irelands (who?) rarely appeared in the media afterward.

After leaving office, Clinton not only used his popularity to make an enormous amount of money, but he set up a pretty good foundation dealing with world affairs.  He took on genuine charitable projects. He, and the man he defeated, George H. Bush developed a political bromance.  They appeared together soliciting aid after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.

Clinton may also be the best communicator the Democrats have.  He knows how to make sense of things.  That is why he was brought in so often by President Obama to get the talking points back on track.

Clinton, like Reagan, appreciates and respects other opinions. He does not see Republicans as enemies.  He was the other side of the coin from House Speaker Newt Gingrich when the federal government was actually working to the people’s satisfaction.

Even his sell out to Obama comes across again with a shrug of the shoulders and that sense of I-do-what-I-gotta-do.  There is no secret that he does not admire or even like Obama.  Of course, the fact that it is no secret further enhances Clinton’s popularity

Moralists, like Carter, can never achieve the level of popularity as a cleaver rogue.  Call-me-Jimmy may quote the Bible, saying we are all sinners, but he leaves the impression that he does not believe it about himself. You can admire their zeal, but you can’t help that uneasy feeling when around them.  Clinton lets you know we are all sinners by living out the role openly.  There provides a sense of mutual understanding.  Carter is the type you sit up straight in the pew next to him.  Clinton, you hang in the bar until closing time.

As long as Clinton stays safely in the range of “acceptable” transgressions, he will remain popular.  I mean, if Lewinsky had been 16 years old, it would have been a very different outcome.  He maybe a scoundrel, but as far as the public is concerned, he is a lovable scoundrel.

To me, he is an engaging conversationalist. Getting past his moral lapses, Clinton is an extreme intelligent and well informed person.  He is always on my list of people I would like to dine with – maybe not first, but on the list.

OBSERVATION: Random thoughts on Blago’s political demise.

I have a few closing thoughts on the ousting of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Thought One: Almost unnoticed in the impeachment and removal from office of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was a provision that he be barred from ever again running for office in Illinois. I think this is overkill … piling on. Frankly, I think the Legislature is way out of bounds in preventing him from running for any office in the future – including Governor.

I mean, I wouldn’t vote for him. His chance of being elected to any major office is pretty minimal. However, I think he should have the right to run, and the voting public should have the right to decide to hire him or not – and not be pre-empted by a mob of over heated politicians.

While the odds suggest Blago will get indicted and convicted, that is not a certainty. What if he beats the rap? He is then an innocent man. What then?

Thought Two: I wonder … if this all happened one year earlier, would Barack Obama have made it to the White House. For sure, the world outside of Illinois had no idea just how corrupt is the political environment that spawned President Obama. So much of life is timing. (I put this item in as a shameless means to get a photo of Obama in the Blog and attract search engines. Forgive me … but it seems the thing to do these day.)

Thought Three: I heard some pundits chagrining the fact that they will not have Rod Blagojevich around to generate news. They opined that he will now fade into the shadows of public attention. I think not. In fact, I expect Blago to continue to be a very highly visible public figure — continuing to champion his cause in the main spotlight. More interestingly, he is very likely to seek revenge on his enemies – now as a citizen accuser – by dragging them before the same court of public opinion in which he was convicted.

While the self righteous political leaders sell themselves as the noble civic tribunes, I sort of think of them a bit more like Mafia don’s disposing of one of their own – you know – the guy that became a “problem” to the bosses. There is one of these characters in every mob movie.

Also, I am sure Blago knows where a lot of political bodies are buried and the impeachers forgot to take away his shovel. In view of the large volume of taped conversations, I suspect that a lot of others will find their hitherto secret schemes exposing them to a lot of embarrassment, minimally, and maybe criminal complicity. I dare say, old Blago could actually wind up being an unintentional agent of reform.

So cheer up sports fans. We are about to go into extra innings.

Thought Four: Most objective observers seem to agree that the press lost all sense of fairness and impartiality in the coverage of Barack Obama. It would appear that is also true in the case of Rod Blagojevich — althought it was wrath, not adulation, that powered the disturbing bias. I mean, I don’t like Blago at all, but I expect the media to adhere to traditional standards of professional objectivity. Rather than report on the issues, they scolded him, mocked him, belittled him. He was ravaged from every perspective … news, editorials, columns and talk shows. At times, I could not tell if Blago’s antics or the reporting of them was more outrageous. I guess both politicians and the press lose their perspective when offered an opportunity to be pompous.

Thought Five: Is the Blago saga reminding you — as it is me — of the Huey Long (right) epic? If you recall, he was the highly corrupt populist governor of Lousiana. He also was removed from office, but by only one disgruntled government employee with a gun. Blago had 59 disgruntled government employees with an impeachment. Ballots. Bullets? Same result … well … almost. If you have no idea what I am talking about, go to Blockbuster and rent the movie. All the King’s Men. The author of the story claimed it was not about Huey Long. Yeah! Right! Just like Citizen Kaneis not about William Randolph Hearst.

REACT: Blago impeached AGAIN!!! But not in the eyes of his sister-in-law.

It was only a technicality. The newly seated Illlinois House had to reaffirm the vote of the outgoing assembly. This time the vote to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich was 117 to 1.

The “all in the family” political culture of Illinois did produce one interesting vote — it was that lonely “no” vote. It was cast by newly elected State Representative Deborah Mell.

The name sound familiar?

Yep! She is the daughter of powerhouse Alderman Dick Mell … AND sister of Mrs. Blagojevich. She is the impeached governor’s sister-in-law.

Frankly, I am shocked and disappointed that she voted “no.” I wouldn’t expect her to ruin future Christmases with her sister by voting “yes,” but I think she had a clear obligation to abstain in view of the obvious conflict of interest.

In one of her first acts as a representative of the people, with a sworn duty to uphold the law, not-so-Representative Mell opted to cast a personal vote for the exclusive benefit of her family. With 117 votes against her, it is preposterous to suggest that she voted on the merits of the issue or the public interest.

It appears that the heirs to the various political peerages in Illinois are no more imbued wtih a sense of propriety, principle and reform than are their elders.

>RECOMMENDATION: The GOP should let Blago remain in office

>Most likely, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will be impeached before all the evidence is considered and testimony taken. The Illinois House, under the leadership of Speaker Michael (I gotta make my daughter governor) Madigan is a hanging jury. Like any kangaroo court, the verdict was predetermined before the articles of impeachment were even drawn up. The impeachment panel is a means to an end, not a deliberative body.

This means that it will be up to the Illinois Senate to hold a mock trial – at which there will be no rules of evidence – and vote conviction or acquittal. This requires a two-third vote of the membership – and that means a few Republican votes will be required to remove the Governor from office.

The fact that it appears that the GOP senators will follow the lead of the Democrat majority is testimony to their lack of appreciation for the democratic process, their disregard for any presumption of innocence, their non-existent party discipline and their abysmal lack of political savvy.

If the Republican leaders had half the testicular virility of the Governor and the political chutzpah of the Democrats in general, they would either abstain or vote against the conviction of the Governor.

On the merits, Governor Blagojevich was duly elected by the people of Illinois. He has been indicted but not convicted of any crime. The legislature would have to both disregard the vote of the people and the highly vaunted presumption of innocence to remove him from office.

What if the Governor is ultimately deemed innocent of all charges? Will he be unimpeached and returned to office? Would his removal by political adversaries be deemed a coup rather than an impeachment? Could he sue for damages?

Since he is indicted, and a judicial process will now move forward, I would rely on a jury of his peers to resolve the question of criminal conduct, and not subject the issue to unconsidered evidence, amateur judgment and political opinion.

I would also remind the public that the leaders of the lynch mob** are the very same people who endorsed his re-election. In fact, the leader of the impeachment effort was his campaign co-chairman.

The Republicans should have no part in this political chicanery.

Okay. Then there is the “other” reason to vote against conviction. It leaves the Governor and the Democrats – friend and foe alike – to hang out to dry for the next two years, or at least until U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald actually convicts the Governor of at least one felony.

The opposition party could be on the verge of total implosion, and the Republicans seem to be on the verge of bailing them out – a move befitting the often designated stupid party.

Now, I know some say it would be irresponsible not to remove Blago so that peace and tranquility can be restored to the governmental process in Illinois. This just means business as usual.

If the Illinois Senate fails to convict the Governor, and the lynch mob sees that their prey has eluded the noose, things will calm down. The critical business of the state will move forward out of necessity. However, the process is likely to be more controversial, more transparent, more open to public sentiment, more bipartisan and more democratic. The idea that democracy is best served by public serenity is bogus. Heated public debated is more beneficial than quiet back room deals.

When I was growing up in Chicago, we used to say that there was no disservice to the public when Mafia members killed each other. Likewise, there is no disservice to good government to have the pre-eminent Democrat party break down into tribal warfare.

Yeah! I think Blago is probably guilty – “probably,” I say. And yeah! I am not a fan of his politics and philosophy. And yeah! I think he is not sharpest knife in the drawer. But I think justice and politics are better served by letting him continue to fill the office to which he was elected by the people (at the recommendation of all those now trying to remove him) until such time as a jury of his peers finds him guilty of the crimes for which he is only accused.

I have to confess … I have a third reason to keep Blago in office. Good theater. This is a political demolition derby. It is awesome. It is spectacular. For the first time in ages, I can’t wait for the next news update. Political conversations and the proverbial grapevine are a twitter with news, speculation, opinions and predictions. I mean … what is more fun than watching arrogant people run around like fools.

Think about this. If they had booted Blago out of office in December, he never could have appointed Roland Burris to the vacant Senate seat. In doing so, the Governor has at once sent a good man to Washington and exposed the hypocrisy and racism of such national Democrats as Senate President Harry Reid. Now Rules Committee Chair Diane Feinstein, who will handle any Senate inquiry into l’affaire Burris, is saying to seat Burris. This gets more delicious by the minute.

For once, I hope the Republicans can be as shrewd and crafty as the Democrats. Hmmmmm. Probably not. Oh well! It was fun while it lasted.

** Yes. I referred to the Democrat leaders as a “lynch mob.” Whether Blagojevich is guilty as hell, or not, is irrelevant to the conduct of his political adversaries. Lynch mobs did not always hang innocent people, but they always circumvented the all important process of justice.