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Sep 25, 2006

Bill Clinton: Sleeping Giant


I had seven or eight carefully selected screen shots to share with you featuring Clinton with his Irish up.  But really, is there a more telling frame than this?

I'm was as gratified as anybody to see Clinton stand up to Fox, Chris Wallace, ABC, the neocons, the whole cabal.  The only problem is, where has he been all this time, and where is he going to be tomorrow, and the next day?  On the politics, I completely agree with Arianna Huffington and Matt Stoler about the Fox News Sunday Clinton interview/ambush.  Clinton may have performed admirably, but he has otherwise been MIA on the GWOT since he left office.

Arianna suggests WJC could learn something by watching the video of the interview a couple of times.  Well, Clinton could watch this video a hundred times and there's still no way he would learn anything.  Bubba's fatal, and ultimately masochistic flaw is that he desperately needs to be loved by everybody.  The problem -- expressed at the personal level -- killed him politically, and the problem -- manifest at the political level -- is hurting us both ways.

Having read quite a few posts about the interview, along with dozens and dozens of excerpts, what I haven't seen is the quote that jumped out for me.  It was near the end of the lecture/diatribe when Clinton interjected:

"I've never criticized President Bush, and I don't think it is useful."

If you believe Clinton was doing his bit for the party, that conclusion just doesn't fit with the man.  Clinton was personally attacked and he fought back.  But there's a world of difference between standing up for your party, and getting hot in defense of your own name.

Video clip (via think progress) here.

(image: Fox News Sunday via thinkprogress.  September 24, 2006.)


Clinton had an alcoholic stepfather. Maybe that's why he's such a people pleaser. Maybe he's starting (at long last) to see that it's not getting him (or the country) anywhere. Let's hope he starts speaking up and using his tremendous personal and political power.

I noticed that comment immediately. And it is certainly part of the reason that Clinton can be written off as hotly defending himself, rather than doing what is needed to keep the U.S. safe, i.e., blast Bush for his well-past-crappy handling of the threat of terrorism.

The Big Dog pointing —

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, "Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?"

I want to know how many you asked, "Why did you fire Dick Clarke?"

A few seconds later —

CLINTON: You didn't ask that, did you? Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth, Chris.

As a former president Mr Clinton is constrained by custom and common sense to not undermine his successor, even if his successor is constrained by neither. It is a rare treat to hear political argument grounded in realities instead of slogans. This is not about freedoms or democracy, this is about doing the job. Did the current administration do their job in response to the Cole? It is the job of a news organization covering foreign policy to find out. Did Fox News try to find out?

If Fox News has asked these questions of the current administration they'd have reported it by now. A quick trip to their front page shows former national security advisor Rice is apparently claiming there was no plan for Al Qaeda left by the Clinton administration.

Still no word on those questions about the Cole.

I think it's appropriate that Clinton doesn't directly criticize his successor. But what did he say? He said, a few years back, "All presidents make mistakes." Ahem. That statement implies that Bush has made a mistake. And at a time when Bush gave no hint himself that he thought anything he had done was a mistake.

Now he says, "I don't critisize them, I don't think it's helpful" And right after that he mentions that they think Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. Ahem. That's a criticism.

Yes, its tangled and confused. But it maps pretty well to the electorate. There were so many pieces of his framing that Chris Wallace simply swallowed, too.

I feel that it's important to reach out to enemies, to talk to everyone, if for no other reason than to make them look bad when they slap your hand away. Clinton feels no need to please everyone, that's for sure. To the right-wingers he's the devil incarnate, and it doesn't seem to bother him a bit.

If you read the right-wing commentary, they think he screwed up in admitting and reminding folks that he didn't get OBL. But who does this reflect on worse, him or Bush? Don't people admire a man who will face failure squarely, learn from it, and move on?

"The only problem is, where has he been all this time, and where is he going to be tomorrow, and the next day?"

The question to be asked is: Why do we need Bill Clinton to save us? It's not his job. (It's his wife's job.)

"Bubba's fatal, and ultimately masochistic flaw is that he desperately needs to be loved by everybody."

Wait. Wasn't this popular media spin in the '90s? I'm sure I could Google it and find sources. Can't we move on from Monica Lewinsky? Clinton himself has. Not to mention it's an unsupportable claim that doesn't apply to this interview.

But even if it were supportable, so what? Is there a law against desperately needing anything? If we want a cowboy instead of an intellectual, we end up with George W. Bush.

So again: Why do we need Bill Clinton to save us? Why can't the Democrats save themselves? Why are the Democrats such hand-wringing whiny babies?

(Oh, and I'm definitely a Democrat. No doubt apparent by my whininess.)

If Bill Clinton is the 'Sleeping Giant' what are the dwarfs waiting for ?

Madame Huffington appears to realize that they can't be shamed, but they can be scolded.

If the mode d'emploi of the Daddy Party in power is to bribe and bully, mind that Mommy can dish out dis- when she has a mind to, too. Buried further down the HuffPo pundit food-chain is this post...

Ellis Weiner, "My Wife Just Figured It Out" : “The reason Americans think the Democratic Party is "weak on terror" or "weak on security" is because Democrats don't stand up to Republicans.”

...his wife just figured it out, he says, un-ashamedly. "Now honey when you get to work today you just tell them you don't have to take this shh. Get back in there and act like a man!" (who has found the fury strength of a woman :)

it's an old wag, the finger : “The middle finger is also called the social finger. In most societies, sticking up this finger is a vile, unspeakable act. It started when Amandus of Egypt was working with wood. She sawed off all her fingers but the middle finger. It looked so gross that if anyone in the village stuck it up, then they would be tortured or burned at stake.”

Take it from Dubya: "We'll stand down, when they stand up."

Yesterday on the American PBS NewsHour essayist Anne Taylor Fleming, "Job for a Woman" wants to talk about where women are 'in power' like Katies and Hillaries, and where they are not, like wag-writing on the editorial pages (ex-MoDo) of the big-time rags ~ when Anne Taylor Fleming herself suddenly stops and has this sort of epiphany. "Why," she asks herself = women, "have we spent all this time [as the video screen fills up with a collage of books written by women] writing mainly about women = ourselves?"

And here *I* am, doing it again, you can almost hear her think: Doh!

I don't want to just write about women anymore, she ends up writing. I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum, Bubba!

Just think if Bush was in the same position - he would be speechless He'd just try yelling the same tired slogans about "WE HAVE TO GO ON THE OFFENSE" or whatever.

Clinton has a command of facts and dates and events that simply dwarfs Bush's.

It's just such a pleasure to see a President with a 12th-grade reading comprehension level. I agree with the commenters who noticed how wonderful to be talking about facts and strategies instead of slogans and RNP rhetorical ploys.

I would like to see more Dems with spines, in action. Now, please.

Yes, Hill, I mean you. If you have one. You too Barack.

Can't anybody look at Clinton on Fox and provide comment without dragging all their old baggage about the man into the discussion.

I recognize the man's not perfect but for crissakes he happens to be the only decent president (and he was more that decent too) in my entire adult life (and I'm pushing 50!) so I cannot for the life of me understand why the left is piling on as heavy as the right.

Clinton has been attacked. He was the subject of a right-wing hit job TV docudrama that essentially blamed him for not preventing the worst attack in most of our lifetimes.

A week or two later, he is asked on Fox TV, in an accusatory manner, why he didn't do more.

He provides an articulate, passionate, and vehement defense of his record, yet at the same time admits that he failed because he didn't kill bin Laden before he left office. Part of that defense is a contrast, long overdue on the national airwaves, of the Clinton and Bush approach to fighting terrorism.

And what kind of analysis do we get here? Some horseshit that his flaw is that he needs to be loved by everybody. That's about as inane as the right-wing crap about his so-called "meltdown" and the Huffington Post commentary that he needed to pull up his socks.

Christ almighty, you folks are helpless!

What feedback I've gotten from the Repuglican's supporters in the midwest was that Clinton got angry and lost his temper. They didn't get the defense of his efforts portion of the hit on Chris Wallace at all.

It was amazing, and, following Keith Olberman's comment on this, I cheered and danced around my livingroom! All you Dems who have failed to show that you too have balls: DO IT NOW!!

It wasn't aimed at Republicans- it was aimed at everyone else!

Perhaps, Clinton was drawing the dots between those who attack him personally and his behavior in refraining from returning the favor. There is enough blame to go around. Perhaps,had the Bush White House been less interested in inventing stories about how the outgoing Clintonites had left computers trashed and other such fantastic acts of soreloser vandalism, there would have been more time to focus on the real substance of governance. But then again, perhaps not.

The utter arrogance of that little snively man, Chris Wallace, telling Clinton his emailers made him ask that question. To indict Clinton for the losses of 9-11! To imply that Clinton should be the president thinking "what did I do wrong?" Good lord. I think Clinton showed amazing restraint, in the face of such smearing.

Yes, Clinton lost his temper. But Bush is losing a war. And perhaps Clinton wants people to like him, but Bush demands that we trust him or else he'll let the big bad terrorists kill us, I guess.

As for where has he been? Well, let's think about that. Jimmy Carter has led an exemplary post-president life and has given several extremely good speeches about the travesty this regime is making of our government. But the media and even the big left blogosphere give Jimmy short shrift. And we all know how Al Gore gets treated. And now, look at how Clinton is being treated, now that he did speak out. Lots of second-guessing going on, script correctors showing up out of all sorts of woodwork, and yep, he gets psychoanalyzed, one more time.

“I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum,” Bubba!


And he was not the only decent president. Carter was a decent president. The same crowd of Republicans destroyed him too. October surprise, anyone?

I also am amazed that anyone with any brains or any concern about the direction Bush and Friends are taking this country would do anything other than CHEER after watching this exchange!!

What is wrong with the people who shoot Clinton for shooting down crap? Get over his blowjob already!!!

Forgot to add,
Doctor Jay?

On the nose, sir, on the nose.

And he was not the only decent president. Carter was a decent president.

I didn't mean to diss Carter. I had said my "adult life" and I was still in school in the 70s.

Only shock is that Wallace was so prepared for his sandbag that he at first was smirking thinking he had pulled it off, but Clinton got the better of it. He turned the tables and Wallace is an empty suit that can't answer a simple question. Its not that Clinton looked the hero or anything like that, but attempts to make him in the wrong are laughable (to some this will work of course, but lets face it that’s a partisan thing) since the media have been exposing themselves in an obvious way for some time now.

He had three choices:
a. Hey were Fox, we didn't even make fun of Bush when he needed to go before 9/11 committee with Cheney

b. Umm..we asked Condi if she was dating.

c. Piss his pants and run around murmuring "swatting flies…swatting files".

Only shock from Fox "News" is that they didn't have a graphic under POTUS 42 that read "Rapist....?" With the question mark there as per the Daily Show.

It’s a joke, there all a joke. I would have laughed if Clinton had slapped him in the face. Its always blame Clinton, and demonize the rest of the world to prep for whatever invasion our dear leader has whispered in his ear next. It goes well beyond Fox, but they are the "best" (actually most obvious) at it.

i noticed that people think that clinton should have saved the party during this ambush instead of saving himself. he was ambushed and he fought back by telling the truth about what happened during his last years in office. anyone would do the same when personally attacked so why would he be any different. those who think he needs to save us need to look at what they would do in the same situation bill was put was a delight to watch bill kickchrissy`s ass

I think Clinton knew exactly what he's been doing these past few years. Once upon a time, I would have said, "You don't get to be President of the USA by being an idiot," but that saying's been shot to hell now.

He is not playing anyone's patsy, he's helping to set his wife up for a legitimate shot at the Presidency.

Buddying up to the Bushes? Appearing with them in public? This site is about analyzing images. It should be obvious. Every one of those appearances helps move Senator Clinton to the right. Click, Click, Click. In those images, there is President Bush smiling with Senator Clinton and/or President Clinton. This helps to create an association in the minds of the TV-masses.

Someone may know this better than I, but I remember hearing about a tv-story in which Reagan was criticized for something or other, but it made the news and the footage had Reagan looking all Presidential. Even though the story was negative, the White House liked it, because they knew people would retain those images of a decisive looking Reagan longer that whatever he was being castigated about.

The Clintons get the benefits of those warm and fuzzy photo-ops. So do the Bushes, but I'm guessing that the Clintons' have taken the measure of W and knew he was an idiot. He was viewed as an idiot his first eight months of office and the only thing that changed the public's mind was 9/11.

Now that time is clearing the fear and rage out of the public-psyche, Bush's various policies and that je ne sais quoi that he brings to the art of public oratory is returning the public's opinion of him to that original state.

I'm sure the Clinton's knew it would have been political suicide to take a swipe at the President earlier.

If you can, remember back to 2002, 2003 and 2004. The GOP was riding all of the fear that 9/11 injected into our minds. Their pundits were liberally tossing out accusations of treason to any and all who dared question the Iraq build-up and eventual invasion. Only an idiot would have attacked them in 2002. In 2004 the GOP had the safety of our soldiers in Iraq as their club and they beat their opponents mercilessly with it.

So, I think that is what the Clintons are doing. They're keeping the Clinton brand in the public arena, using Bill to generate warm and fuzzies. Then they're tossing in a Hillary moment, where she talks tough about one safe issue or another "Body Armor", "Hunt Bid Laden not Iraq", "no WMD" etc. She can sound stern, go on the attack and not have to worry much about retribution.

For the last few years keeping Senator Clinton out of the political fire-fights while building her governance "street cred" has been their priority.

Now, I think they've begun the attack. I think this is a bit early for their plans, but a Democratic House would be able to launch some investigations into Bush and the GOP. This would give her plenty of talking-points-fodder and also more deeply ingrain distrust of the conservatives in the public psyche.

So, in a very long-winded-way, I'm saying that I believe that Clinton didn't "lose-it." He took a carefully crafted shot at a particually soft-target. It was just Wallace's dumb-luck that he was first to blunder into Mr. Clinton's sites.

I've long felt that Clinton was a republican in democratic sheepskins. He basically enacted their entire program and they hated him for it. I'm old enough to remember REAL democratic presidents so I know the difference. But having put up with this crowd of marionettes for 6 years, gawd it was good to have someone spit in their faces. That's what everyone is celebrating. That and the unilateral courage of Keith Olbermann and his series of telessays, the third of which was an angry variation on the theme of Clinton's outrage. From what I'm hearing, people are so hungry for that kind of in-your-face, backatcha responses to the outrages we have been subjected to that they are still in shock, waiting to see if anyone else dares follow suit. Keith did. Next?

Incidentally, I took Clinton's words to be an oblique sidereal hit on Bush. He used the words, 'those people' and 'those who criticize me' and (I think) 'neocons' (I'm paraphrasing, here, but close). Then he said he's not criticizing the current president, which of course, is what he just did. I'm still trying to decide whether it was a CYOA move or a sop to all those ex-prexies with whom he's been associating of late.

As for Chris Wallace and the photo above: It's perfect. The weasel being accused by the anonymous finger from the left. I remember when his daddy started out, he was on Channel 13 in LA and he was a sneaky, sniveling gutter snipe trying to catch the object of his wrath off guard and badgering him/her throughout the program. Like father like son.

As for Carter......does anyone remember that he started to cut back on the CIA (activities and personnel)? Suspicion and rumor had it that the CIA operators out of a job went to black ops and worked against Carter. When the "students" took over the US embassy in Iran, they seemed to know all the CIA secret access codes. BTW, that was the second takeover that year, there was one (now all but forgotten) that happened on valentine's day. Personally, I never could figure out why people (neocons?) thought he was so bad. He certainly looks good now.

BTW, my wretch factor was on overload Sunday with Couric's pandering "interview"(?) with Rice. I went into a diabetic coma and didn't come to till a couple of paragraphs into the Musharraf interview. Tickle those ivories, baby.....

1) Just because Arianna Huffington says something, doesn't mean it's automatically accurate. Huffington, a former REPUBLICAN, is a fine one to criticize Clinton for befriending the first Bush. Hello? Pot calling kettle?

2) It's always good to do one's own fact-checking before making claims or accepting anyone else's. Clinton hasn't been silent; in fact, he hasn't stopped criticizing Bush. And it has even gotten press:

*March 14, 2003*
Bill blasts "political mess" by W
"Former President Bill Clinton double-dissed President Bush last night, saying his successor in the White House has bungled handling the U.S. economy and the crisis over Iraq."

*June 25, 2004*
Salon interview with Bill Clinton in which he says Iraq was not behind 9/11.
"Now I hear Vice President Cheney continuing to assert that there is a connection, but there's a difference between assertion and evidence. If they have some kind of evidence, they can come forward with it, but I haven't seen any yet."

[Whoops, Bill takes time out for emergency heart surgery. Meanwhile, on September 2, 2005, Arianna Huffington's post: Bill Clinton, Suck-Up-in-Chief]

*18 September 2005*
Clinton Launches Withering Attack on Bush on Iraq, Katrina, Budget
Agence France Presse
"Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq 'virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction.' "

*September 18, 2005*
Uncharted Territory, Once Again
"In recent years, the Democrats have violated many of the tacit conventions of civility that have enabled our political system to work for more than two centuries. Yesterday another barrier fell, and once again, we entered uncharted waters: former President Bill Clinton launched a vicious attack on President Bush on ABC's 'This Week' program.

This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. Consistent with that belief, former Presidents of both parties have stayed out of politics and have avoided criticizing their successors. Until now. The Democrats appear bent on destroying every element of the fabric that has united us as Americans."

*Oct. 6, 2005*
Bill Clinton: U.S. Likely to Lose in Iraq
"Ex-president Bill Clinton is predicting that the U.S. will lose the war in Iraq, saying 'the odds are not great of our prevailing there.'

In an interview with the Ladies Home Journal due out next month, Clinton calls the Iraq war 'a quagmire' and warns 'it could go wrong.'

Clinton spokesman Jay Carson immediately sought to tone down the ex-president morale-busting remarks, telling the New York Daily News: 'President Clinton has always been clear that there are reasons for optimism and that there clearly are reasons for concern with the current situation in Iraq. But no one has been clearer than President Clinton about the necessity of winning now that we are there.' "

*Nov. 16, 2005*
Bill Clinton: Iraq A "Big Mistake"

*Aug. 15, 2006*
"Clinton said that the London terror plot had raised two questions about the Republicans' political strategy.

'They seem to be anxious to tie it to al Qaeda. . . . If that's true, how come we got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan?' he said. 'Why have we imperiled President [Hamid] Karzai's rule and allowed the Taliban to come back into the southern part of Afghanistan? Why was Iraq deemed to be seven times more important than finding the al Qaeda leaders for the last five years?' "

3) If Arianna or Matt Stoler ever undergo quadruple-bypass surgery, let's remember to ignore that fact and criticize them for slacking off, okay? Bill's first surgery was in September 2004, and his second surgery was in March 2005.

Paula Poundstone pins Arianna in May/June 1995
The Poundstone Report: Republican Field Guide
"Guinea pigs are conveniently described in easy-to-use books. Why isn't Arianna Huffington?"

I don't understand why The BAG or Arianna or Stoler or anyone else thinks Clinton has been mute on the issues. What is so hard about double-checking before spouting?

4) When people say controversial things and you don't understand why, always check to see if they have a new book out. So while Matt Stoller is ripping Clinton for taking Murdoch's money, Arianna just happens to be stirring up extra buzz for her new book, On Becoming Fearless. At first I thought it was a weird coincidence that she was featured on my favorite radio program, On Point, today. And then I figured it out. Duh! (I'm slow.)

There's nothing wrong with self-promotion. What works for Ann Coulter can work for progressives, too. Why should Coulter have the corner on that buzz-generating method?

Meanwhile, what *Bill* is doing for the Democratic Party is fund-raising for every wind-sucking congressional and gubernatorial candidate in nearly every state in the country. Is he also laying groundwork for Hillary's run in 2008? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Will the Clintons be criticized for it by liberals and wing-nuts alike? I think we know the answer. But out of curiosity, let's wait to see what Arianna has to say about Hillary this time next year, when the paperback edition of On Becoming Fearless comes out and she does another book tour for it. (Usually the paperback follows a year after the hardcover, except in cases like the Da Vinci Code or when Oprah reads it.)

"I've never criticized President Bush, and I don't think it is useful."

Clinton has the right idea (all be it with the wrong person) and he points it out in the interview.

Being president is about many things. Looking after the minority voice for example.

It is less about Right/Left and doing what is best for Americans and the world as a whole.

This is what made him a great president (despite his dodgy history).

Compare that to Bush, I recall someone on Fox news around the time of the second election where someone asked "Now that the totals were so close do you think Bush will look after both sides (left and right)". The response was "Why should he? He won".

That has been the whole attitude all along. Not about looking after the country but about "Winning".

Please notice, as Olberman pointed out on his show, how little attention is paid to the new FACTS coming out of the interview. Its all about the mood stuff...and the history of the guy. Well, there were, assuming Clinton was telling the truth, and I do assume that, very interesting issues coming out of this. Read the opposed to watching it. And pay special notice to the Cole bombing talk.

It's really stunning that a weblog devoted to analyzing visual imagery did not think to compare this to former President Clinton's infamous finger wagging of "I did not have sex with that woman" episode. Wouldn't a comparison of the body language and tone be quite informative as to the psychology behind the two denials?

Interesting point AOG. I think it is obvious the Monica finger wag is a much different gesture than the j'accuse digit stabbing at Mr Wallace. Perhaps the same finger, different centuries. In one context it focuses attention on the speaker. My memory of the Lewinsky interview includes a finger pointed up, asking for attention, a gestural utterance saying "listen closely" as the famous words came forth, truthful only under torture.

The Wallace stab skewers the interlocutor, it is counter-attack. "You didn't ask that did you? Tell the truth, Chris." One seeks full disclosure, the other none.

Maybe the whole Lewinsky affair isn't so important to me that it colors my perception of the former president. Don't see how it relates to OBL and the problems related to OBL.

AOG, I can't believe you didn't say something about Jimmy Carter (despite the lack of visuals)!


Even I would not demean Clinton by a comparison to Carter.

black dog barking;

It's not about Lewinsky per se, but about former President Clinton's truthfulness. If someone has a "tell" that indicates he is lying, shouldn't one look for that in their public statements? Certainly our host spends quite a lot of time doing that for President Bush. Why not Clinton as well? Or should visual analysis start with a partisan purpose in mind?

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