I was always dumbstruck by the hate Bill Clinton attracted. I was astonished that people who considered themselves patriots would cast such vile toward the president of the United States or the First Lady when things were going so well. I guess I really believed that while some of his mistakes were personally and privately immoral, they were not important to the office. He never lied about anything I wouldn't have lied about too. He never used his power to torture, to wage war, to enrich his friends, or to seek revenge on others. It wasn't always perfect; but it was pretty close. I often concluded the hatred had something to do with misogyny, the irrational hatred of women and things female. I thought that since Bill Clinton had a plucky, intelligent wife that this fact raised the ire of hawkish right wingers, and that it was first she, then he, who rose as a target of hate. Clinton is the kind of man people genuinely like, the kind of man who doesn't diminish others in order to raise himself. I think this is why racists, misogynists and people with prejudices were so quick to hate him. He is not of their kind.
So it was with avid interest that I read Robert Kennedy Jr.'s blog today on the Huffington Post about how Americans hated the Roosevelts and remembered, too, why intelligent voices are such a breath of fresh air. How infrequently we hear them in the U.S. media unless you know where to hunt. How when we do, the light is so bright.
Kennedy says, "Irrational hatred was the powerful drug that intoxicated the Gingrich Congress to impeach President Bill Clinton at the time when he enjoyed 65% popularity with the American people and had steered the nation through eight years of peace and unprecedented prosperity."
Kennedy's essay looks back at Roosevelt and talks about the irrational hatred toward he and his wife, how the right-wingers did not like to be questioned, did not like a president who seemed to favor social programs that helped millions even when they profited themselves by creating a middle class in America (their stocks rose substantially during his presidency), how a number of American billionaires had financed a military coup, and how a general had exposed this plan and stopped it. Incredible.
I don't know why I didn't know this aspect of history. I suppose because time has been so kind to the Roosevelts that the right-wing hatred has been forgotten. The Roosevelts sound much like the Clintons.
Quoting William Bird, political historian at the Smithsonian Institute, Kennedy writes that "by 1936, the 'Roosevelt haters' had developed into a well-defined cult among the nation's business elite," their lackeys in the press and on the editorial boards and among right wing Christian theocrats led by fascist radio host Father Charles Coughlin."
Christian theocrats and fascist radio hosts back then, too? Such similarities.
Last night, Tucker Carlson tried to peg hatred of Bush as irrational. Doesn't this just side-step the fact that things like cheating in a debate, cheating in elections, lying to the American people about war, using the death of Americans in 9/11 to confuse Americans into a false war, sacrificing American soldiers or ruining America's standing abroad, handing over billions of American tax dollars to friends who are called private contractors through no-bid contests, outing our own CIA agents, lying to federal judges, indeed, are real mistakes (read: high crimes and treason) made by this president and a small group of insiders and are what raises the ire of this president's detractors and not irrational hatred against his personality?
There is nothing irrational about hating crime or a criminal. This tactic is a ruse to diminish and confuse the irrational Clinton Hate by comparing it to the rational protests and denouncements of Bush's political behavior.
What is also revealing about the difference in "Hate Behavior" is that the Roosevelts and the Clintons were hated from the top down. The elites were riled by Roosevelts social programs and attacked them as communists thus creating a sound byte that the average person understood as "evil" even while the programs were benefitting those same desperate people. The Clintons provoked the rancor of the similar business elites (pharmaceutical and oil, in particular). Through the acts of Bill Clinton, these contemporary elites found a way to redirect financial revenge into moral outrage. It worked. It silenced the rest of us.
But Bush is "hated" (if you want to call it that) from the bottom up. The protests against his government originated from the street (and left-wingers). It took years for newspaper journalists, Congressional and House Democrats, and media pundits to catch up to the base reaction that many Americans had toward Bush's War on Iraq. That a pundit would denounce all this criticism of criminal behavior by labeling it "crazy" or "fanatic" as if it has no basis in reality is psychologically and politically amazing stage craftery. If Bush was not feeding the elite business machine, he'd be history by now, never mind the little ways in which media pundits like Carlson help Bush by kowtowing to these elites and warping reality for the masses.
If Hillary wins the Democrat nomination, I hope that everyone who wants her to have a chance will stand up against the coming hatred. It is sure to be loud and strong. Sometimes, it's not enough to turn the other cheek. I still think it was a shame how the left-wing and the Democrats allowed Bill Clinton to be treated. They got shamed by the most immoral bunch among the U.S. voters--the moralists: the people who are now in office represent their kind, and they are slippery. They talk about saving babies and honoring religious traditions while they wage wars, lie, hide documents, torture, terrorize their own people with fear, provoke others, and what else, God knows.
Sometimes bullies need to be shouted down, arrested for their crimes or, at least, shamed back into the shadows. These are dark times. Not a time to just act civilly as so many Democrats do. We need to protect those whom we favor from bullies. It's time to shine the light so brightly that they either go to jail or back into the shadows, so we can properly forget them like we did the Roosevelt-haters.