If Only We Had Bill to Kick Around

According to the editors of the New York Times, what the world needs now is a bunch of Republicans firing up the nostalgia machine, wishing they had Bill Clinton back:

In many ways, Republican nostalgia for Mr. Clinton is a brew of selective memory, convenient disregard for the bitter partisan battles that marked his tenure and longing for a time when major bipartisan legislation, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, was possible.

Yes, if only the planets aligned again, the weather cleared, and the appropriate forms of sacrifice were offered up to the gods, then we could once again have a time where major bipartisan legislation was possible.  Because bipartisanship is elusive, like a will o’ the wisp –it can’t be brought about by mere human agency, and, as President Obama has shown, it tends to recede when approached.  Apparently, it is also followed by impeachment of the leader who brings it about, but let’s not let that unpleasant reality intrude on our 1,000 word thumbsucker.

48 replies
  1. 1

    Man, a black dude in the White House really has the Replicans flipping out.

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    They’re just frustrated because they know they’d be called racists if they tried to impeach a black man.

  3. 3
    c u n d gulag says:

    In all fairness to the hidious Republicans, impeaching Clinton was their finest bipartisan moment. A few Democrats did, after all, go along for the ride – I’m looking at you, you POS, Lieberman.

  4. 4
    p.a. says:

    What a crock. There’s no need for Republicans to be nostalgic for anyone. They’ve been running the same fucking smear campaign basically since the 1919 Red Scare- at first aided and abetted by the Dems. If Jesus Christ were elected as a Democrat, they would smear him as a long-haired unAmerican-looking socialist weirdo who was too cowardly to fight the Romans and was therefore killed because of his pacifism. Commie punk.

  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    But it won’t stop them from trying!
    I guarantee that if the Republicans take the House, they’ll start investigating anything and everything, from the Christman card list, to who clip’s Bo’s nails.
    They’ll tell you that race has NOTHING to do with it. It’s a question of The Constitution, and Presidential overreach – in other words, they’ll try to impeach Obama for what Bush started.

  6. 6
    jinxtigr says:

    Oh, fucking YAY NAFTA ;P what the hell?

  7. 7
    Dennis SGMM says:

    This line from Vin Weber pretty much summarizes the article;

    If Obama moves to the center it may be practical, but his base won’t like it.

    If Obama moves to the center? I guess that “the center,” for the GOP anyway, now lies somewhere between Sarah Palin and Mitch McConnell.

  8. 8
    Mark-NC says:

    Gee – I seem to remember that the TImes was the outfit that kept pushing Whitewater and I remember the Newt running Clinton into the ground over Lewinski at the same time Newt was cheating on his 2nd wife.

    Yea, I sure miss that crap!

  9. 9
    aimai says:

    Oh I can’t even be bothered, you know? These people are certifiable. I just watched Rachel Maddow’s explication de texte as she demonstrates that “I’m Mad Too” Carl Paladino is really just the current version of “Bob” of the Church of the Subgenius. And you know what? it was always like this. After the upper class dropped politics entirely what was left was more and more outrageous attempts to appeal to people’s cupidity and stupidity directly. Angry white males have been looking for a leader forever. In the case of the retrospective on the nineties the Republicans (and perhaps the Times) are merely romanticizing their youth, as we all do. Just like you used to hear them bemoaning the lost civility of Reagan and Tip O’Neill.


  10. 10
    Xenos says:

    Oh, I am sure they will try to impeach Obama for not showing whatever handwritten notes were made at the time of his birth. These people believe their own propaganda, and they think they are just one ‘gotcha’ away from the American people, as a whole, resoundingly rejecting Obama once The Truth is revealed.

    I have this fantasy that Obama has a copy of some sort of uber-original long form birth certificate, utterly innocuous, that he is just holding out on so his attorney can pull it out in an impeachment hearing, and yell ‘Psych!’ Just another 11d chess move that, in my desperation, I keep dreaming up for him.

  11. 11
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Let’s not forget how well Gramm-Leach-Bliley worked out, also, too.

  12. 12
    debbie says:


    Ah, but it wasn’t about the cheating, it was about the lying under oath! So, I look forward to Republicans’ condemnation of all the lying under oath that banks have been doing when processing foreclosures…

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    I think their nostalgia is for the dings they did put in Clinton. Obama has been a more slippery target for them.


  14. 14
    beltane says:

    @Dennis SGMM: I think Obama will surprise people by not being as eager to go along with the right-wing as Clinton was. Being that he is already far more popular than the Republicans, any stubbornness on his part will only boost his popularity and make the GOP more detested than they already are. Glenn Beck is trying to gather his minions to wage war against the poor, the unemployed and other victims of the Republican economy. Guess what, when the GOP gains power, the wave of opposition to their crap will stun these people.

    Those who incite class war should be careful what they wish for.

  15. 15

    @Xenos: Nothing, even a statement from God, will convince the birfers that Obama is qualified to be president.

    However, I believe Obama’s attitude towards them is “Bwahaha! Pfffft! [Two middle fingers].”

  16. 16
    beltane says:

    @aimai: These Angry White Males have been angry for as long as I can remember. Like low-ranking baboons, I think their anger is part of who they are and has no relationship to actual events. They could (and often) do, get everything they want without any dent being made in their anger. Maybe these macho men would be less angry if they got off their asses and performed actual feats of male prowess.

  17. 17
    jrg says:

    If Obama moves to the center it may be practical, but his base won’t like it.

    Yeah, that will work. We’ll still have an idiotic media (hi, T. Friedman!) pining for the “center”, even with the “center” further to the right.

    When people talk about how they’re “centrists”, what they really mean is that they’re Democrats who are too chickenshit to piss Republicans off by admitting it.

  18. 18

    Everybody loves Clinton, now that he’s not been a player for 10 years, so the right-wing attack machine has been ignoring him for almost that long, and too many people have apparently forgotten just how fierce their attacks on him were.

    If Clinton started publicly pushing for progressive causes, they’d tear him apart all over again, his approval ratings would plummet, etc.

    But since he’s not, the attack machine is focused on Dems who actually matter.

  19. 19
    beltane says:

    @low-tech cyclist: Weren’t Clinton’s approval numbers approaching 70% during the impeachment hearings? (much to the media’s dismay, I might ad) He actually polled better the more they attacked him, because outside of their creepy fan base, Americans generally hate the Republican party. If we had a half-way honorable media, the GOP would never stand a chance outside of the deep south.

  20. 20
    kay says:

    “You know with Clinton the chemistry was right,” said Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader. “He was a good old boy from Arkansas, I was a good old boy from Mississippi, and Newt, he was from Georgia. So he knew what I was about, and I knew where he was coming from.”

    It still amazes me how self-centered they are.

    Yeah. That’s what’s important, at work. Your personal cultural bias, and apparent inability to communicate with someone who didn’t grow up next door.

    For God’s sake, grow up. It’s like listening to second graders. Second graders with with huge jowls and deep voices.

  21. 21
    Ash Can says:

    @WereBear: This appears to me as the most reasonable explanation for this patently unreasonable situation.

    These people have absolutely, completely lost their shit. Nostalgic for Bill Clinton? Do these people all get drunk for breakfast? Have they been eating lead paint chips for lunch every day and huffing airplane glue for supper? Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with them?

    (Yes, I know what the fuck is wrong with them. Seeing a relatively young black man who can debate circles around the best of them zoom through the political ranks and grab the brass ring while they remain stuck in their current legislative seats has sent them into full-on frothing lunacy.)

    BTW, Mistermix, by saying “1,000-word thumbsucker,” you make it sound as though the writer of this article is doing the thumbsucking. This is not the case; the writer finds this situation ridiculous as well.

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Maybe these macho men would be less angry if they got off their asses and performed actual feats of male prowess.

    Interesting point. In my experience, mid-level attorneys who haven’t done a “macho” thing since JV high school football are more likely to be angry conservatives than are Ranger tabbed army officers. Anecdote, not data… yadda, yadda….

    ETA: See also, Keyboard commandos.

  23. 23
    Johannes says:

    @beltane: Their prowess, alas, is only legendary, and not real.

  24. 24
    Menzies says:


    I’m not sure about that, I get the feeling a lot of so-called “centrists” are either Republicans or Republican-leaning independents who don’t want to be associated with the GOP brand.


    I still remember Trent Lott arguing against Puerto Rico becoming a state because it would trend Democratic, without ever realizing that maybe we’d be a little less single-party if the only Senator who ever gave a shit about us was Ted Kennedy.

    God, the fun just didn’t stop with that particular buffoon.

  25. 25
    gene108 says:

    Clinton sold papers, that’s why the press wants him back.

    Sex, drugs (?), and murder(?) all wrapped up into a Presidency. I’m sure the NY Times misses those days, when they made money and sold papers.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    If Obama moves to the center it may be practical, but his base won’t like it.

    Personally, I would love it if Obama moved more towards the center, as long as we’re talking about the actual center that falls between the extreme left (yes, there is one) and the nutty right-wingers and not the mythical Village “center” that always somehow manages to fall somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. If he moved towards the real center of the country, he’d be moving to the left.

  27. 27
    gene108 says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Everybody loves Clinton

    As charismatic as President Obama seemed during the 2008 campaign, he just seems a bit distant and cold, since becoming President.

    Clinton, for whatever his flaws are as a husband, could really connect with people. He “felt their pain” or at least made people understand he understood what they were going through.

  28. 28
    Menzies says:


    I think there’s an easy reason for that.

    Clinton walked into office right after the most lopsided military victory in United States history, a reasonable economic condition (which is saying something after 12 years of Republican presidencies) and some support from a home region that was fast going red, which gave him some automatic coalition cred.

    Obama walked into office in the middle of two wars, an economy that had just been run into the ground, massive government corruption and graft at all levels (where it wasn’t just almost nakedly sold off to corporations) and where he did get non-traditional support, it was by bare margins and quickly rescinded.

    Clinton is naturally more aw-shucks-good-old-boy than Obama, but it’s worth noting that the dude just also had less immediately pressing shit on his plate.

  29. 29
    Socraticsilence says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Yeah I thought that was kind of odd- Obama’s been pretty much centrist his whole administration and people still spread crazy “he’s a marxist” lies- if he actually moved to the left he might have violence in the streets. For gods sakes his HCR plan is in many ways to the right of a plan that was passed by the guy who in Pre-black dude is president times was considered a GOP frontrunner (lets face it Romney is way, way too “socialist” to win the GOP nomination at this point but things change in the course of a year. )

  30. 30
    Mark says:

    Jennifer Steinhauer (the author of the piece) is a moron. She wrote a piece during one of the many California budget crises blaming the entire thing on the Democrats. I emailed her and called her out on it, said she was clearly being disingenuous.

    I hurt her feelings and she sent me an email telling me that unless I apologized to her for calling her a liar, she wouldn’t correspond with me further. Shoe fits, yo.

  31. 31
    gene108 says:

    @Menzies: Well, if you look at Obama’s inauguration, I think 2 million people turned up in anticipation of what was going to be an historic and trans-formative Presidency.

    He had unbelievable enthusiasm from his supporters. Even people who didn’t vote for him wanted to give him a chance, which is why his initial approval ratings clocked in at around 70%.

    The GOP was rudderless, demoralized and looking like it would become a regional Party and no longer a national Party.

    For whatever reason, President Obama has lost control of the agenda. Even with the loss of Congress, President Clinton didn’t lost control of his agenda. Hell, the Republicans under President Reagan saw their numbers in the House drop and they lost control of the Senate, but Reagan still set the tone.

    Both President Clinton and Obama are intelligent, analytical thinkers.

    For whatever reason, when President Clinton speaks he can distill the analysis in a way a guy like me can appreciate.

    I think part of the problem is President Obama doesn’t seem to have an underlying philosophy that drives his Presidency and enabled other Presidents to connect with voters.

    President Clinton was about proving government could be effective, well managed and fiscally sound.

    President Reagan was about pushing supply-side economics, restoring national patriotism / pride, and a strong military.

    I’m really not sure what’s driving the Obama White House, which might explain his communication problem. He just seems to view his job as getting certain pieces of legislation and policy passed, without any context of changing how Americans perceive themselves, the country and the government.

    I really don’t know why President Obama has not been able to connect with people, considering the enthusiasm he had on his side, when elected.

    Maybe it’s harder now for a Democrat to do this, with the Fox dominated 24/7 news cycle and other networks (cough, cough CNN) thinking they need to pick off Fox’s viewers, the rabidly supply-side-think talking heads on CNBC, who can’t think of another way to do business than what’s been done for the last 20-30 years, and the screaming-crazies on talk-radio, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, et. al. ,

    Along with the fact the business community has decided to hate the Democrats with a vengeance and are now pouring money to put Republicans into power, so they can undo whatever non-business friendly laws Obama and the Democrats passed, like HCR and Fin Reg.

  32. 32
    Bender says:

    I really don’t know why President Obama has not been able to connect with people, considering the enthusiasm he had on his side, when elected.

    Because eventually you have to stop promising and start producing. As many pointed out in 2008, the Zero’s never had a job in his life where producing was a concern. He’s an empty suit with no experience at getting results. He is so over-his-head that even the Euros noticed right away.

  33. 33
    Frank Chow says:

    It’s as if they cannot conceptualize something bipartisan being a big steaming pile of shit.

  34. 34
    Menzies says:


    I think you have a point there. For all that the leadup to the election had Obama as a “policy wonk” in the style of Clinton, I think Obama almost redefines the term – it’s not that Clinton wasn’t a hard worker or didn’t concern himself with the exact effects of policy, but like you say, he had a guiding philosophy through which you can look at his entire agenda. Obama so far is basically fixing potholes, repaving roads – generally repairing prior damage or improving upon earlier work.

    Obama’s problem there, though, I think still partly arises from the fact that he’s taking up a presidency that started out on the defensive and hasn’t gotten out of it since. He was supposed to be transformative because what came before him was such a total load of crap that we couldn’t help but want him to pull us out of the ditch, and we expected that his personal magnetism would be enough to get it done – after all, he convinced us to elect him and he had friends in both houses of the Legislature, and he was clearly a reasonable, analytical thinker who could be expected to compromise well.

    Instead we got an insane party that shotgun-wedded itself to as many different interests as possible in order to stay viable, even ones that are destined to implode upon themselves, and a center-left party whose members care way too much about their future careers as lobbyists. It’s not the landscape any of us, least of all Obama, I think, expected we’d get.

  35. 35
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Menzies: @gene108: I don’t know what this thing is about Clinton having a “guiding philosophy.” What was that? When Clinton was the president, all anyone ever said is that he “triangulated,” that he took up Republican ideas and sold them as his own. In other words, that he had no core beliefs, he just found his way to the middle.

  36. 36
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Yes, if only we could return to those heady days of bipartisan support for things that completely fucking wreck the country. What a great time that was.

  37. 37
    FlipYrWhig says:


    Even with the loss of Congress, President Clinton didn’t lost control of his agenda.

    What was that agenda? The caricature of Clinton is that he gave speeches with laundry lists of programs and specifics, and advocated for things like the V-chip and school uniforms. I’ve never heard anyone say that Clinton was a consistent, principled, and visionary politician before. Left/liberals pummeled Clinton year after year for being a finger-in-the-wind quasi-Republican.

  38. 38
    Menzies says:


    I think you can make a case for either, but as I wasn’t really around during the Clinton years (at least not until Monicagate, my first exposure to American politics at all) and it wasn’t my main argument in the first place, I just decided not to contemplate the question.

    I’ve definitely heard people talk about Clinton’s consistency or vision of government; about his principles, not so much, because we’re in a country where getting blowjobs from someone else means you can’t be considered “principled” ever again, I guess. I always heard about the Clinton years as this guy who was essentially the very personification of Third Way politics – careful legislative dealing to pick off votes here and there, “radical” centrism almost to a fault, and very strict choices on which battles to pick across government.

  39. 39
    Tom Q says:

    Some of the responses here show that lefties are equally blocking out (or ignorant of) the actual facts of the Clinton presidency. The Hamsher equivalents of that era complained about Bill from day one, essentially bought into the media caricatures of him because it suited their political ends, and went on a suicide mission for Nader, giving us the Iraq war and many other atrocities. Thanks, guys.

    When Clinton left office in January 2001, the media trashed him one last time. Someone, I forget who, said he’d be a pariah in NY. The GOP its media (all media, really) hated Clinton then, and only talk nice about him now to pretend to a past when they didn’t behave irrationally toward a Dem president. Sorry guys: I have a memory. You haven’t changed one bit, and you never will.

  40. 40
    cgp says:

    It must have been hard to garner bi-partisan support for a bill which empowered the elite rich to cut labor costs even further at the cost of their constituents. People, wtf, we need to get this together.

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Menzies: Well, I dunno, I feel like seeing that as a “vision of government” is overselling and retrospective. I think it’s fairly easy to say that Obama’s vision is something like the community organizer model of slowly building consensus around achievable goals, and his themes include looking out for one another, working together, and deliberation and dialogue even between adversaries. I see recurring ideas about process and policy. I don’t think there’s a gap or a failure to think big.

    I mean, gene108 wrote:

    I’m really not sure what’s driving the Obama White House, which might explain his communication problem. He just seems to view his job as getting certain pieces of legislation and policy passed, without any context of changing how Americans perceive themselves, the country and the government.

    Compared to Clinton? Really? I would say that _Clinton_ was _entirely_ about getting little pieces of legislation passed without an overriding, unifying vision. (If there was a unifying vision, it was something like “get little pieces of effective legislation passed rather than getting bogged down in pitched ideological battles,” i.e., a technocrat’s wonkery, which is practically the opposite of vision to me. Not that it’s a bad thing, but vision it ain’t.)

    I don’t think Clinton _ever_ did much to change “how Americans perceive themselves, the country and the government.” Reagan is often given credit for that. I don’t think Clinton typically is. And, just personally, it doesn’t ring true to me.

  42. 42
    Menzies says:


    Fair enough. Like I say, I think the fact that I’m coming to this when it’s already history hampers me – at the time Clinton would’ve been giving his major policy addresses I didn’t even speak a lot of English.

    I do think Obama has a model for how government should work, and as you say that’s the community organizer’s consensus-heavy procedure, but I think the recurring ideas he’s got about process and policy are guided by (what looks to me like) a 21st-century version of what Clinton was supposedly about: fixing what’s wrong with our government, except that Clinton was operating in the other direction. Obama’s so far focused pretty much on shoring up the balance of power between government/business and the general public (fin reg, HCR, cap-and-trade) and cleaning up parts of government that have kind of been left to rot over the past couple decades, so it’s a naturally more decentralized vision, at least in terms of an agenda, I think. Clinton looks to have cared more about how to streamline government operations such that they were targeted right where they were needed most, with the caveat that that (and getting Republican votes) necessitated cuts and other reductions in programs.

    Again, I’m coming into this as a historian, so as you say I’m looking at it retrospectively. I don’t agree that nothing is driving the Obama White House, I just also don’t think it’s necessarily an ideologically unified agenda – which goes along with what I say about Obama redefining being a policy wonk, because I also think Clinton was defined more by being a DLC-type than by any specific policy goal he had.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:


    Clinton looks to have cared more about how to streamline government operations such that they were targeted right where they were needed most, with the caveat that that (and getting Republican votes) necessitated cuts and other reductions in programs.

    I don’t think that’s right. Clinton was very focused on cutting government and setting up a lot of public/private partnerships. He really helped along the whole idea of contracting government out to private companies.

    He was all about “getting out of the way of business” and removing regulations, to the point that he actually signed Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which helped get us into the major financial mess we’re in today.

    Ironically, the thing that made Clinton look organized in retrospect was the impeachment since they had to stop pretty much everything else and focus on that for almost a year. Without that, his term would just be a mishmash of running from place to place trying to figure out what moderate Republicans would vote for.

  44. 44
    Bokonon says:

    Oh yeah … Bill Clinton. That guy. The person that they hated so much that they dragged him through impeachment. The guy they called a murderer and a “serial rapist”. A person that the GOP repeatedly said was morally unfit to be President. The guy that they blamed for 9/11. The guy about which they approached foreign governments, and told them to negotiate directly with the GOP rather than the President. The guy on which most of the GOP’s current leadership earned their stripes denouncing and trying to destroy, in the most personal ways.

    That guy.

    The GOP now tells us that they are nostalgic for Clinton. The chemistry was right with Clinton and all that. Instead of that socialist fascist non-American hater-of-America destroyer of jobs and mortal-threat-to-our-Consitution that occupies the office now.

    Right. I call the usual, complete bullshit.

  45. 45
    Arclite says:

    I read this story in disbelief. They spent six years villifying and attacking the Clintons (all three of them) culminating in a gotcha impeachment. Investigation after investigation, hate-filled diatribe after diatribe. And they’re waxing nostalgic about what a fine man he was?

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:


    And they’re waxing nostalgic about what a fine man he was?

    Well, yeah, because he may have been a Democrat, but at least he wasn’t a, you know, Muslim. You know what I mean.

  47. 47
    Bernard says:

    Clinton was where the Right got organized and figured out how to control America without leaving its’ fingerprints. That is what Clinton was for. doing the dirty work of the Republican party. triangulation is another word for it.
    and God know we needed the Free Trade Agreement that codified the offshoring of American jobs, and setting Wall Street free through Rubin, Summers with the repeal of Glass Steagall.

    don’t ask don’t tell, welfare reform and all those other wonderful “liberal” steps.

    and now God forbid, masturbation instead of blowjobs. lol

    oh yes we truly advanced under the guise of the Clinton era/ such a progressive era. i can hardly wait, oh nevermind. we are already there.

    the one ray of sunshine is the ape shit behavior of having a black man as president. just watching the Republican and white Southerners go ape shit is a gift that never be equalled.
    and then i remember about the Nobel Peace Prize.

    God there is some poetic justice in the darkness of America.

  48. 48
    D BROWN says:

    I think Obama is spending to much time keeping Neo-Cons and Wall St out of jail, you know Bill and Obamas looking forward not backward. If bill had put them in the can then they would no be doing the same old now. But he’s still better than any living neo-con. as for the GOP, they will keep doing what works. ——- The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad.

    The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.
    Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true.
    Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end.
    ~ Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

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