= Bush and Clinton at the Same Time
by Anthony Gregory: The
Cannibalization of Charlie Sheen
I think I
have figured out the new formula in presidential politics. The current
president is essentially as bad as the last two combined. We might
call this the "Presidential Fibonacci
Bush II was
every bit as bad as his father, with the addition of Clinton mixed
in. Life under Clinton was like living under Bush I and Reagan simultaneously.
Bush the First was so horrible he was like Reagan and Carter were
ganging up on American liberty.
is a flawed formula, but it does seem to hold in the current case.
Let us consider the evidence.
Obama is doing
everything that his immediate predecessor did: Subsidizing the bubble
economy, ratcheting up the regulatory state, increasing deficit
spending year by year, waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, lying
about Iran, allowing his minions to commit torture, jailing people
without cause, detaining and abusing whistleblowers, spying without
warrants on American telecommunications, molesting airline passengers
by the millions, and relying on anti-Muslim sentiment to allow for
an ever widening war on terrorism.
But at the
same time, the Clinton approach to U.S. statecraft is back. Obama
has bombed Libya without even claiming it has anything to do with
American security. His mass murder in the name of human rights,
without the added rationale of protecting us from terrists,
is Clintonian to the core. The fact that Hillary goaded both the
current president and her husband to conduct such humanitarian atrocities
is another nice parallel.
There is also
a distinct dash of Clinton in domestic policy, something that might
make liberals ultimately view Obama as our "greatest Republican
president," as they did Clinton: We have the drive to nationalize
industries, especially health care, along left-of-center corporatist
lines. Crony capitalism climbs everyday even as free enterprise’s
good name is being dragged through the mud. We are constantly threatened
with new projects of nationalization and economic regimentation
in the name of environmentalism and equality, but they rarely materialize
quite as anticipated. A new political correctness has reared its
head, as Juan Williams was fired for saying Muslims on planes make
him nervous even as the first black president (with a Nobel
Prize) fires cruise missiles at a new Muslim country every six months
and treats us all like terrorists at the airport.
All the Clintonian
rhetoric and policy maneuvering sit atop what could be called Bush’s
third term. Obama is following Bush’s timetable for withdrawal in
Iraq so far while escalating the war in Afghanistan,
and both left and right actually claim that he has signified a move
toward restraint in foreign policy.
We have a charismatic
Democrat getting away with wars and lies, and the media talking
about him as though he is a restrained, thoughtful executive, unlike
the last president while the right calls him a wimp and reckless
tyrant at the same time. Meanwhile, the entire war-on-terror and
Ownership Society focus of domestic planning the worst elements
of the Bush years continue exactly as though no crises in
Iraq and the financial market demonstrated their inherent unsustainability.
It is indeed
the 1990s and the Bush years happening all at once.
Obama as the simultaneous embodiment of Bush and Clinton might help
to explain why everyone is so out of their minds right now. Politics
is defined both by the rhetoric of the state and that of the opposition.
The dizzying flip-flops on all sides are easier to understand in
light of Obama’s peculiar style of governance.
almost twenty years to Slick Willy’s first term, the populist right
was up in arms about Washington, about Waco, about nation-building
and Hillarycare. Then the Republicans won Congress and by the end
of the decade, the right calmed down a bit, probably predicting
they would soon inherit the imperial executive they had pretended
to oppose out of principle.
movement was, at first, anti-state – in particular, opposed to war,
imperialism, and unlimited executive power and corporatism. But
after Katrina, the left once again reverted to its old ways, criticizing
the administration for governing poorly, as opposed to flexing too
much power. The problem was, once again, that Bush was not doing
anti-Bush peace movement and Tea Party have both subsided, the first
group placated by the 2008 election and the second pacified by the
midterm Republican victory. They are both also probably simply fatigued
from years of protest. I wish they’d both get out in the streets
and join forces, realizing they are actually both opposed to power
grabs by the same government. But that will, alas, probably never
Yet the anti-Clinton
right and the anti-Bush left should recognize that Obama sums up
the horrors of both administrations. Instead, these groups are divided,
convinced by the government they should fear each other more than
the regime. We have the 1990s hysteria about populist rightwingers
helping to bolster the police state. Alongside the fear of American
patriots is the Bush-era hysteria toward Muslims and crackdowns
on antiwar protesters. It is the perfect storm for both fascism
and socialism of the American variety.
The right is
confused as to whether to support the Commander in Chief or to call
for his impeachment. The left wants to defend their beloved executive
messiah for partisan reasons, as well as out of general agreement
with his domestic politics, but at the same time it is divided on
his foreign policy and the supposed gradualism of his socialist
who condemn Obama are called racist, but we know most of them would
support him if he were red instead of blue. These are the colors
that seem to matter to modern conservatives far more than black
and white. Just look at Ben Stein condemning the Libya bombing on
Constitutional grounds for an example of the invincibility of partisan
quackery. Witness how hysterically almost all Republicans played
the race card in defense of conservatives like Condoleezza Rice
and Clarence Thomas, and you realize they are fine with anyone on
their team, regardless of race (although being Muslim might still
be a problem).
cheer on Obama are accused of backing a socialist revolution, but
in fact they are just applauding an accelerated version of the Bush
agenda. Medicare D would have been supported by Democrats if a Democrat
had proposed it. Republicans would have called it socialized medicine.
is more pronounced these days than usual. It makes one’s head spin.
Are the liberals for presidential wars again? Are the conservatives
pretending to be against deficit spending once more? The left supports
the TSA now and the right sees it as a police state imposition?
When did that happen? And why does the left hate the banks for accepting
the bailouts that most of them said were necessary to stop the economy
One thing those
of us who love liberty regardless of who attacks it can recognize
is that the two statist coalitions in America, the left-liberals
and the right-conservatives, are intellectually bankrupt to the
core. This should give us hope, because there are limits to what
even Americans can swallow in terms of cognitive dissonance. When
Sean Hannity is talking about Libya as though it were Kosovo (and
as though he cared one whit about the president violating the Constitution
to kill foreigners), and Mother Jones is claiming Obama’s very Bushian
schemes of slaughter can be seen as an "anti-Bush doctrine,"
we have truly seen American partisanship jump the shark. If Orwell
were alive today, he’d probably refuse to write for fear that no
dystopian absurdities his imagination was capable of contriving
could match real life.
Gregory [send him mail]
is a research analyst at the Independent
lives in Oakland, California. See his
webpage for more articles and personal information.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
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