The conservatives’ disgusting mainstreaming of Clinton

Writing at Best of the Web, James Taranto discusses the phenomenon of “punitive liberalism,” averring that Carter was the last such liberal in the White House:

Bill Clinton was no punitive liberal; as President Bush said last week of his predecessor, “he showed … the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a President. Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead—and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.”’

This is nonsense. Clinton’s whole schtick was, life is really hard in America, people work hard but they just can’t make it, only the government can help them out. This was his “middle-class liberalism,” directed at expanding government not to help the poor, but the middle class, a much larger and more influential constituency than the poor, and so a much more efficacious political base for endless government growth. His constant assumption was that we live in a country in which everyone is a sad victim, that life does not work apart from government. Like a socialist, he never once lauded wealth creation in its own right. He saw America in dark, victimological tones. He ran for president in 1992 making Republicans sound like a sinister evil force. He blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on conservative talk show hosts and Republicans. Whenever he was criticized he said it was because of a sick impulse in Americans to “find someone to look down on.” He went to New York City during the 1993 mayoral campaign and said that the only possible reason whites could have for not supporting Dinkins was that they were not comfortable with people who looked different from themselves. He went to Africa and told the Africans how guilty America was. He celebrated that magical future moment when whites will become a minority in America. And, it goes without saying, he normalized systematic cynical lying and systematic moral depravity at the highest level of our government. It goes on and on and on.

Of course Gore’s angry class-warfare leftism since 2000 has been worse than Clinton’s relatively mild cultural leftism. But it is disheartening and demoralizing in the extreme when establishment “conservatives” like Bush and Taranto give so much to the president who debauched America. I guess they are following the Clinton strategy of triangulation.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 21, 2004 05:43 PM | Send


More proof, were any needed, that the president and such as Taranto are not in any way conservatives. We know that, but maybe we can put their fawning over Clinton to good use to help persuade those still mired in reflexive Republicanism. These are just more indications that we do not have a true two party system; the Republicans and Democrats are the stupid and evil wings of the Government Party. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 21, 2004 6:45 PM

Clinton was as liberal as he could get away with being in the 90’s. The people put the wood to him in the 1994 election and he spent the next six years in netural.

Posted by: j.hagan on June 21, 2004 6:52 PM

I recall reading an interesting maxim on the evolution of religious institutions, according to which any of them which is not dogmatically orthodox in its doctrinal statements will eventually become liberal, and orthodoxy will be proscribed, in fact if not in statute. For reasons not entirely clear to me, I associate this observation - which I think unassailable - with Richard Neuhaus. In any event, an analogous maxim is surely appropriate in the case of the desire to whitewash or pass over in silence the eight black years of perfidy, treachery, deceit, Machiavellian cunning and base farce that were the Clinton Administration. Those (pseudo) conservatives who are baptizing the Clinton legacy are able to do so because they were never themselves anchored to anything that could be justifiably described as a coherent body of conservative thought; they are all liberals, just of the color of an earlier generation. Just as evangelicals embrace fads the mainstream churches cast off two decades ago….. This would seem to be a general phenomenon: the bit and bridle of the evil are for the guidance of the unprincipled.

Posted by: Jeff M on June 21, 2004 7:01 PM

Mr. Hagan is correct. Clinton only became somewhat moderate because he had no choice. He did everything he could to get through homosexuals in the military at the start of his presidency, he simply failed. He tried to socialize American medicine, he failed. Then he lost the Congress ‘94 and had to cooperate with Republicans.

I do give him credit for following relatively moderate fiscal policies with Robert Rubin, not that I understand anything about economics.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 21, 2004 7:06 PM

Clinton did not entirely fail to get homosexuals in the armed forces; “don’t ask, don’t tell” is just a way to mainstream them if they do not make spectacles of themselves. Clinton did force women into every combat billet except the infantry and submarines, in essence. That was even more destructive of good order, discipline and combat readiness than winking at homosexuals. Bush has done nothing about either, so in eight short years, policies Bush pre would not endorse, Bush fils has adopted. Clinton wins; the armed forces and the nation lose. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 21, 2004 7:19 PM

Another element of this conservative sell out is the new conventional wisdom among many conservative pundits that the “Clinton-hatred” of the ’90s was the moral equivalent of the post-2000 Bush hatred on the left. The extreme horror that normal people felt at Clinton was for the most part not irrational or bigoted; it was a true reaction to the horror of a moral reprobrate in the White House. The anti-Bush phenomenon of today’s Democrats is irrational and bigoted in the extreme. But one conservative after another has suggested an equivalence between them.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 21, 2004 7:42 PM

Demos can of course point to close to 6 years of incredible wealth/growth in the U.S., and that two of “pere” Bush’s years (‘90-‘92) were a disaster, as were 3.5 years of “fils” Bush.

I appears that The White House is somewhat serious in floating Giuliani and possibly even Sen. McCain as “replacement VPs” for Cheney. I hope they are hearing the reply that I’m hearing—re-election is D.O.A. with either of those two bumpkins. How much can conservatives take?

Posted by: David Levin on June 21, 2004 10:25 PM

Clinton’s “middle-class liberalism” was a shrewd idea, electorally speaking. The only Democrat President since Andrew Jackson to have more votes cast for him than against in more than one election was FDR, precisely because he aimed his largesse at the white majority. After il Dutchie, Dems directed the goodies to minorities, and the only ones to pull off a majority of votes cast even once were Carter (just barely) and LBJ. The latter won big not because he offered whites any more, but because his opponent threatened the swag they already had. It’s nice to remember, though, that despite this popular strategy, more voted against Clinton than for in both his elections.

Jeff M attributes an observation about religion to Richard Neuhaus which was certainly made about politics by John O’Sullivan (and, indirectly, Robert Conquest). Here’s the piece:

Posted by: Reg Csar on June 21, 2004 10:46 PM

Mr. Levin asks: “How much can conservatives take?” You would be amazed, Mr. Levin. Go over to FreeRepublic and view the twists and turns people are making over there to defend Bush’s lovefest. The typical position is that Bush is such a Reaganesque, classy president that he refrained from saying anything nasty about Lord Hee-Haw and his trailer-trashing of the white house. You really need to put on the hip boots before wading in there. It’s sort of like battered-wife syndrome - the more Bush and other Republicans sell them out, the more ardently they will defend them.

Posted by: Carl on June 22, 2004 12:38 AM

I happened to hear Limbaugh the day after Bush’s fawning over Clinton. Limbaugh remarked that Bush praised Clinton with more enthusiasm than a Democrat would. Limbaugh “couldn’t understand it.” The next day, Limbaugh was back to his rah-rah Bush routine. If Bush loses because he alienates enough conservatives, Limbaugh still “won’t understand it.”

Posted by: David on June 22, 2004 1:19 AM

Saying “I can’t understand it” is what people say when they don’t want to criticize someone.

Someone I know who is a great fan of conservative talk radio told me she couldn’t stand listening to Rush any longer. With all the big problems the country is facing, all he wants to do is bash Kerry. She said she’s stopped listening to Rush.

It’s not a problem for me, because I stopped listening to talk radio years ago.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2004 1:43 AM

I’m laughing out loud at Carl’s post of 12:38.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2004 1:49 AM

Here’s one of the threads at Free Republic where rock-ribbed conservatives are finding lots of fancy explanations for Bush’s praise of Clinton. Yes, you do need boots to wade through some of this. But there are also many posters who say Bush went over the top.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2004 2:39 AM

I’m reminded of the final scenes in Kenneth Branagh’s production of “Hamlet,” where Hamlet was madly dueling with Laertes and ultimately killing Claudius while Fortinbras’ troops were storming the castle.
You felt that there was this great peril coming that Denmark had to defend against, and then you look and see Hamlet and Claudius (through Laertes) struggling heroically to maintain theri position against one another while the whole country is being conquered. They are so engrossed with who will win against the other that they aren’t realizing that there will be nothing left to win because the common enemy will take it all.
I think that that is where Rush et al. are heading.

Posted by: Michael Jose on June 22, 2004 2:40 AM

RE: Limbaugh

I remember Limbaugh trying to explain some economic issue to a very respectful caller. It must have been 1989 or 1990. It transpired that Limbaugh did not know the difference between Prime Rate and interest rate bonds pay. Whole discussion was pretty funny once I realized that Limbaugh knows absolutely nothing what he was talking about.

Since then I have noticed other amazing blind spots in his knowledge, none as memorable as the previous one.

Lack of knowledge is probably one of the reasons he almost never debates on the air anyone with at least an average IQ. I remember when crafty old leftist Michigan senator Carl Levin called the show. Limbaugh spent previous hour bashing Levin for something. A producer made a mistake to put Levin thru who proceeded to completely demolish Limbaugh on the air.
Having made his point Levin hangup. Limbaugh spent another hour repeating his old arguments that Leving just destroyed. I don’t think Limbaugh even understood how totally demolished he was by Levin.

Limbaugh is a good entertainer, is smart and clever and has a good nose for culture issues. But one must never assume that he knows anything about any particular issue.

Posted by: Mik on June 22, 2004 2:45 AM

Carl in his hilarious-but-to-the-point 12:38 am post also left me laughing, something I have not had mush reason to do as of late.

Yes, I think most of us have been over to Bush Park, otherwise known as I was “run out of town” there just before finding out about VFR and I believe at least one of our dear colleagues (Allan or Alan) had to pack his political bags there and skidaddle, too. I have never checked back there. I figured it hadn’t changed. But then, why should I worry? I don’t own a pair of plaid pants, nor do I belong to any of the local country clubs. If I did, I’d be a freeper for sure.

Not that there is any “competition” here, but Michael Jose’s comparison of one of the final scenes in “Hamlet” (with Laertes and Hamlet fihting it out as Denmark crumbles) to the way the RINOs and Limbaugh in particular seem to be willing to go down with the sinking liberal Mr. Bush as the country is overrun (and conquered) is actually quite prophetic. While Kerry can hardly be considered “a strong opponent” (Hillary Clinton would have been difficult for Mr. Bush, I believe), the country IS being invaded and overrun from our Southern Border. While many of these hordes (illegal aliens) do not vote, they WILL—if they stay here long enough and if (as dumkopf Gov. Ahnold and other lefty governors want now to do) they are given driver’s licenses.

Limbaugh’s biggest monkey-on-back is that he carries the mantra as “the Conservative” but he is anything BUT a conservative. He rarely if ever discusses “the third rail” issues that concern most conservatives—amnesty for illegals, partial-birth abortion, the death penalty and other big issues. Know that I have read Mik’s wonderful piece above, I have to believe that Limbaugh is truly not very bright or has simply lost his conservative bearings. Maybe that $250,000,000 contract had something to do with his message. One can get awfully cozy playing golf at Pro Ams and after receiving that kind of contract.

Posted by: David Levin on June 22, 2004 4:00 AM

Thanks for setting me straight on the origin of the observation I cited.

With regards to conservative talk radio, I can say only that I listened to it regularly from the time I graduated high school in 1992 until recently. It was something to have on as background while driving, studying, working; occasionally, something said would amuse or kindle an interest that demanded serious inquiry and research.
But, for the love of God, how irrelevant most of it now appears! I think, despite the fact that conversations with co-workers stimulated by talk radio were usually more substantive than the programs themselves, that it was something Hannity said earlier this year that made manifest the intellectual backruptcy of much of the enterprise. He averred that the war on terror was the only issue of consequence. Immigration - we just need more assimilation. Gay “marriage” - it would be a bad thing, although we cannot really say why, except that we just have a different opinion on the matter. And the war is more important anyway.
This avoidance of serious issues and thought could be multipied, leaving one with the impression that what matters to conservative elites is simply smiting our enemies in the name of a contentless liberty. Why conservatives, presented with those alternatives, should care to defend abroad the nihilism of those who are devouring the nation from within, is a mystery.

Posted by: Jeff M on June 22, 2004 7:12 AM

The evidence is mounting that Bush can’t win, for the same reason the Democrats lost the Congress in the early 1990’s. Bush’s so-called conservative radio talk show and TV talk show boosters can’t see it. Bush is behaving badly, arrogantly as the Democrats were. Bush also can’t change his stripes and is handing the Democrats the election. The difference is Republicans barked an attractive alternative for many. Kerry seems to be a mere default choice, which won’t motivate many to turn out for him; demographics could very well be Kerry’s decisive edge over Bush 2000. There are supposedly 2% more black and Hispanic voters this election. My allies can be found in the strangest places.

Posted by: P Murgos on June 22, 2004 11:08 AM

Mr. Murgos is, I think, quite right. This was Bush’s election to lose, and he’s doing a darned good job of losing it—not that I care. I wasn’t voting for him in any case. It is humorous, though quite a waste of time, to listen to Hannity and the woman with the man’s voice, Ms. Ingraham (who is purported to be very popular), Lars Larson and others avoid the “third rail issues” like illegal immigration. They don’t want to do anything to harm Bush, and seem to be simply cheerleading and, like Rush, spending their time making fun of liberals and Democrats.
One can get the latest stories from the internet.

Regarding Kerry, if he choses Edwards—which he think he will do—he will win. While Bush is strong in the South, Edwards proved he is immensely popular among Southern Democrats, and not just in his state. Whether Edwards can help “deliver” Calfornia is unclear and is probably THE biggest unasked question these campaign days. Californians generally do not trust or like Southerners. Can Edwards be the next Bill Clinton and win them over? It shouldn’t be hard witht he state run almost entirely by liberals. But Ahnold, while he is to me a disgusting creature, is an interesting factor. If he campaigns big-time for Bush, which is NOT a given, he could sway the state to go for Bush. I know that sounds extreme, but stranger things have happened. There are a lot of Independent voters in the Golden State—and many Reagan Dmeocrats (remember those?). New York is certainly up for grabs. I don’t see Kerry doing well there, and a lot depends on what Bush does with Giuliani (appointing him to a post or really going after his support). Pataki is solidly with Bush. So, it seems to me that it will come down to two liberal “Republicans”—Ahnold and Giuliani—as to whether Bush wins or not. Not that Florida is not a key factor, again. I think that this time, the election will be decided by New York or California.

Maybe that is why Bush has been behaving like a liberal these days and for many months now, prasing Clinton, not firing Mineta and trying to win the hearts of moderates in CA and NY.

Posted by: David Levin on June 23, 2004 12:04 AM

I have to disagree with Mr. Levin RE: California. In 2000 Bush lost CA by 12 points, if memory serves. Since then Silicon Valley fell into local Depression and stayed there. Edwards is quite charming, ala Clinton, superficial california voters will love him. There are plenty of Reagan Democrats (RD), to get them Bush must do something about immigration, 180 degree turn for El Presidente. Without strong anti-immigration statement from Bush, RD will vote for Kerry or stay home.

Governator is a question mark, so far he is very popular. If he gives driver license to illegals, his popularity will crash. If not, he may help Bush if he so chooses.

Still, if in good times CA went for Gore by 12%, in bad times it will go for Kerry by 15-20%. Did you notice that El Presidente never visits California? It means that either Bushies think CA is in their back pocket or it is not winnable. You decide which is it.

Posted by: Mik on June 23, 2004 12:32 AM

“Edwards is quite charming, ala Clinton …”

Edwards is pretty, and slick, and coldly ambitious, but I don’t see charm there.

In fact, in his combination of excessive prettiness and cold soullessness, he makes me think of Dorian Gray—Dorian Gray as a slick Southern demagogue, telling people how the rich are screwing them.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 23, 2004 12:51 AM

What was objectionable under Clinton is now routinely accepted under Dubya, due to party loyalty. For an example of Bush as the moral/social non-conservative, see

Posted by: Clark Coleman on June 29, 2004 5:05 PM

A question perhaps worth pondering: If Bush loses, does it matter how big the margin of defeat is? If so, which is better— from the point of view of the still sane— a gigantic Democratic landslide, which might shock the GOP toward sanity, or a narrow loss — which might paralyze the Kerry Administration and prevent it from perpetrating the horrors it would otherwise commit?

Posted by: Alan Levine on June 29, 2004 5:16 PM

For my two cents, Mr. Levine, utter gridlock is really the best outcome we could hope for. The great problem with the Republicans continues to be the country club RINOs who have near total control of the party.

Rep. Tancredo was recently reprimanded by the House leadership because he supported the challenger to the treasonous Chris Cannon in Utah. Reagan’s “11th commandment” was duly cited. Like all liberals, they see the rules only applying to the other side and feel quite free to violate Reagan’s 11th commandment themselves. Bush’s campaigning for the disgusting Arlen Specter against a conservative says it all. Another example is the recent evisceration of a bill to protect churches from IRS harrassment at the hands of the CCR/RINO form California who chairs the ways and means committee. The CCR’s running the Illinois party forced Sen. Fitzgerald, a mainstream conservative, to retire after one term and nominated their fellow RINO Jack Ryan, who has completely self-destructed in a sex scandal. The abominable hard leftist Dhimmicrat Barak Obama is now running with no opposition - a total disaster.

I seriously doubt the Republican Party is salvageable. The Dhimmicrats may very well sweep the election in November. Bush, Rove and the rest are completely clueless.

Posted by: Carl on June 29, 2004 6:03 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):