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But some things are getting better. Like that Joe Lieberman has gone from airing his views on the Sunday shows to offering them on NewsmaxTV.
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More hathos from my re-read of the Quinn article:

Democrats as well as Republicans are very angry at the president, says retiring Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, who emphasizes what he sees as a lack of respect for the office of president. “I’m angry at him,” he says. “I’d like to kick his butt across the White House lawn.”

I would think that letting President Ronald Reagan off the hook for Iran-Contra–and thus normalizing the notion that breaking the law is just what presidents do–would preclude a lack of respect for the office of the president. Then again, I’m not an eminence grise.


Worth remembering that the recently deceased, esteemed statesman was just as capable of prudish stupidity as anybody:

“Ambrose is right on both scores,” says Howard Baker. “But the difference between Clinton and Nixon is that Nixon resigned because he couldn’t stand it. Clinton is not cut from the same cloth. He can compartmentalize. I drive by the White House at night and think, ‘What in the world are they doing right now? How do they function?’ I would be destroyed.”

For Baker, the most serious consequence of the scandal is “the diminished capability for the U.S. to lead by moral example . . . the impact on Kosovo and Iraq. I can just see Saddam Hussein licking his chops seeing that the U.S. is less willing to respond.”

Just to clarify, that last part isn’t a joke. It was a serious thing that a respected person said–that Clinton getting his rocks off would lead to another Gulf War. And in a funny way he was right.

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Going back over Sally Quinn’s legendary “villager” article from the late Clinton era, what’s most depressing is just how relevant it still largely is, how little the thinking has changed. I actually had to take a breather after reading this:

“People felt a reverent attitude toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” says Tish Baldrige, who once worked there as Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary and has been a frequent visitor since. “Now it’s gone, now it’s sleaze and dirt. We all feel terribly let down. It’s very emotional. We want there to be standards. We’re used to standards. When you think back to other presidents, they all had a lot of class. That’s nonexistent now. It’s sad for people in the White House. . . . I’ve never seen such bad morale in my life. They’re not proud of their chief.”

Nor should there be, since as we know there was zero sexual infidelity during the Kennedy Administration, and it’s a shame that Clinton couldn’t live up to the Emily Post standards of the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. This bit is not only unaware but also utterly childish in its inability to appreciate nuance. Our elites seem to have the emotionally-stunted worldview of late-teenagers who go from seeing their idols as perfect heroes to bullshit sellouts, which is not really a development so much as the other side of the same coin. In this case it’s still binary thinking that either worships the president, or treats him as the sole wrong thing with the country. Lewinsky is long past, but the same folks blame Obama for not being able to get Republicans to agree to things they’ll never agree to, and for a while all but worshiped the unsuccessful Bush presidency because he grabbed a bullhorn at Ground Zero. If ever there were a better argument for moving the nation’s capital–basically to get away from these people–I am unaware of it.

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I honestly wonder what a complete US withdrawal from the Middle East would look like for us. I don’t think it would completely eliminate terror aimed at us–our support of Israel would still be a big sore spot, and while the notion that they attack us because “they hate our freedom” remains illogical and stupid, being #1 does mean you’re a target for all manner of people to take out their frustrations. I don’t think it would be a panacea. But I also think that there wouldn’t be much of a downside for America, being as we’ve proven entirely unable to shape or even respond to events there that “we” want to respond to, and eliminating one of the most-cited extremist grievances couldn’t hurt. Don’t know how much that reduces the threat, but even if it reduces it by a small amount, that’s a lot of money and lives we save with basically zero opportunity cost. Seems like a pretty good deal for me.

Of course, basically no politicians endorse this. I don’t really understand why. I mean, sure, Israel, but they’re the regional powerhouse at this point, and they survived for the first forty years of their existence when we didn’t station troops in the region (and when they were relatively weaker). Part of it may be that we’ve developed this region as the Ireland to our England, just keeping on with the rough tactics until we have “justified” all the resources we wasted on some unwise/narcissistic statebuilding project, until some futuristic George Mitchell puts it to rights. Undoubtedly much has to do with a three-letter word that begins with two vowels, though it needs to constantly be said that if the main goal of all this policy is to keep us from buying oil from people we don’t like, then our choices of allies in the region (e.g. Saudi Arabia) doesn’t make any sense. Nor does any of the rest of it.

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At this point, I am rooting for the wingnuts and the Koch Brothers to kill the Export-Import Bank. I don’t really think it will happen because John Boehner asks how high when business tells him to jump, but it’s possible. But I don’t really fault Obama for flip-flopping on it: as a candidate he could threaten to shut down all manner of programs; as president, every job loss and economic twist is on him, and it’s possible that killing off some prime Boeing subsidies would do just that. I’m less understanding of why any liberal who doesn’t represent Washington State in Congress would all of a sudden start worshipping the program, though.

Here’s a Netflix Recommendation: the Al Pacino masterpiece Serpico. Because America wasn’t just built by a bunch of bewigged Virginians or by soldiers, but also by normal people fanatically pursuing justice and reform at enormous cost. They deserve some recognition too.

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