Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To Bill, or not to Bill

I wasn’t paying attention to politics during Bill Clinton’s eight years. I’m happy I wasn’t because I was still very much a kid and well, happily more invested in kid-like things like getting a girlfriend, puberty, and such. However, toward the end of Clinton’s second term it was hard to ignore the general distaste many people had for him, and I am mainly referring here to Republicans. Essentially, I am too young to talk about the Clinton years from my own personal experience.

Growing up I heard some things—some confirmed, some unconfirmed—about his presidency and America during those eight years. Here they are:

  1. The economy blossomed. Lots of people tell me this. That’s great, but it also strikes me as a time during which America would have seen enormous growth under any president.
  2. According to Toni Morrison, he was the “first black president”.
  3. His wife tried to push health care reform. That didn’t work.
  4. He did, in fact, have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. They did something naughty in the Oval Office.
  5. He’s a slimy, untrustworthy man that will do anything and say anything to get what he wants, including falling back on his own word.

So, when I did start paying attention to politics I approached Bill Clinton with caution and curiosity because I had spent much of my life around Republican friends and family members that didn’t think too highly of the man. They had their reasons, but I didn’t quite have mine. So to me, he was just an ex-president that committed adultery and initially lied about it to the country.

I’ve spent the years since his departure from office looking for something to celebrate in Bill Clinton. I’ve also kept an eye out for that slimy, untrustworthy, red-faced, angry man I had heard so many people speak of.

I found the something to celebrate. Clinton’s work with President George Herbert Walker Bush has been admirable. I’ve enjoyed seeing the two old guys lead America’s response to disasters like the tsunami in 2004 and to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Together they have raised millions of dollars to aid those that are truly in need. In this way, Clinton is definitely using his powerful influence to help others. That is good. Period.

More reason to celebrate: the Clinton Global Initiative. CGI is a “non-partisan catalyst for action, bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.” Those challenges: HIV/AIDs, disease, hunger, poverty, etc.

However, I also found the something not to celebrate: Bill Clinton campaigning for, and with, his wife for a return to power. As a former president who has won respect from many right-wingers, center-right politicians, and young voters, like me, for his work since leaving The White House, he sure has done quite a bit in the last month to unravel the good standing he might have had with me. If anything, he has shown me the Clinton’s that will say and do anything to catapult themselves into a position of authority and power. I see some truth now to the opinion of some that Hillary and Bill’s marriage has only been a power play since the cigar issue came up. No matter what the Clinton’s say, they have made race an issue in the last month and they have pulled Obama down with them. Obama receives almost just as much flack for addressing the race issue as the Clintons, even though he has had to address it merely to defend himself and try to heal that ugly period in the primary season. Bill Clinton has attacked Obama again and again on behalf of Billary, and hasn’t stopped at saying things like this:

"If [Barack Obama] wins this nomination, I’m going to do what I can to help him become president... After all the mean things they said about me, I can’t believe I’m saying this."

Bill Clinton has been a disgrace lately. From the whole Nevada lawsuit issue to giving Hillary’s South Carolina concession speech for her, it’s pathetic. I understand a spouse campaigning for his wife. That’s lovely. But I think it is clear that he is campaigning as much for himself as he is for her.

Conclusion: Bill, keep campaigning for Hillary, it’ll keep on hurting her campaign. Help her lose the nomination that is hers to win. Then, when it’s clear there will not be another dynasty back in The White House, go back to what you do best…raise money for the people that really need your help.

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