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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Party Like It's 1999

I've been as irritated as everyone else at the ridiculous right wing and media hissy fit over Clinton's book. I too would have thought that in a sane world, after seeing what a truly morally corrupt president could do, that the media at least would have found some perspective. They have not, although just as it was during his term only they and the Clinton haters -- a distinct minority -- seem to feel that Big Bill's lies about his penis amount to a federal case. (And believe me, nobody in the entire country understood what the hell Whitewater was about, and that most definitely includes the media.) What people do understand was that a devious, simpering fop by the name of Ken Starr was the type of guy nobody deserves to have digging around in their underwear.

And Clinton's book is selling like crazy. (Let's give capitalism, the free market and the American Way a big huzzah.) As Larry McMurtry said in the "rebuttal" review the NY Times was shamed into posting on its web site today:

The very press that wanted to discredit him and perhaps even run him out of town instead made him a celebrity, a far more expensive thing than a mere president. Clinton's now up there with Madonna, in the highlands that are even above talent.

Indeed he is. He has transcended politics. He is a superstar.

Over at The American Prospect they asked several of their writers to weigh in on whether Clinton would hurt, help or have no effect on the Kerry campaign. The majority said it would hurt, for a variety of reasons. I suspect that most liberals and Clinton fans, like me, approach the whole thing with a mingling of delight and dread. Delight because we genuinely like the guy and respect his ability (and his willingness to face down the screaming harpies of the right) and dread because it is always so frustrating and infuriating to argue these bullshit issues.

I happen to think it's a net plus for Kerry for reasons I cited earlier. But, the coverage over the past few days --- from the downright embarrassing review by Kakutani in the NY Times to the patently absurd WaPo editorial of a couple of days ago --- serves an entirely new purpose that I hadn't anticipated.

The media, for reasons it would take a battalion of Freud's and Jung's to decipher, is partying like it's 1999. They are gleefully attacking him, reprising all their golden hits about immorality and lying under oath and he's deplorablereprehensiblerevoltingunforgivable blah blah blah.

This benefits Kerry because by beating up on their favorite whipping boy, the neurotic mediawhores can stop feeling unfair and unbalanced for reporting the crimes of the Bush administration. This is no small thing. You could sense that they were getting very nervous about being too rough on the lil' guy and they were beginning to assert their [un]natural proclivity to call for civility whenever Rove signals that the liberals are getting uppity.

Nobody takes the slings and arrows of media hysteria like Clinton. He's right out there now, saying "you want a piece 'o me? Come get me," (and do buy my book while you're at it.) And they are taking the bait. Eviscerating Big Bill means they can rest easily at night knowing that they are fair and balanced if they have to perform unpleasant duties like reporting that the Codpiece is empty.

The good news for us is that Clinton isn't on the ballot, Bush is. I urge the media to beat him up all they want if it makes them feel good about themselves and allows them to resist the need to soften their nascent criticism of the real criminal who's in the White House as we speak.