The Enemy of Me Is Like the Other Enemy of Me…

Andrew Sullivan publishes a nonsensical letter from a disgruntled Republican who realizes that he dislikes both Karl Rove and Bill Clinton, and concludes, errantly, that they must be somehow similar.

There is simply no comparison between the instinctively centrist, triangulating Clinton, and Karl Rove, who tried to use state power to jail Democrats, reduce lawful Democratic vote turnout, and gut Democratic constituencies in the service of ushering in a thousand years of GOP dominance.

You can make the case that for both of them, politics got in the way of sound governance.  But that is true for every politician ever.

More specifically…

(1) Clinton’s “self-inflicted” problems?!?  Was there a Republican Congress subpoenaing Christmas card lists and shooting melons to prove there was a Vince Foster conspiracy, or did I just imagine it?  And wasn’t there a baseless, absurd set of stories about Whitewater, setting off some sort of series of investigations of unrelated matters involving Ted Olsen, Richard Mellon Scaife, and Kenneth Starr?  These were not self-inflicted wounds, but boundless Republican malevolence and antagonism, aided and abetted by a scandal-happy, fact-averse media.

(2) Clinton did try to get Congress to “save Social Security first.”  And “entitlement reform” can be accomplished in large measure by reducing the cost of health care– which we should be able to do, if the experience of every other country in the industrialized world has anything to teach us.

(3) Clinton presided over an era of peace and prosperity.  Bush, less so.  There’s only so much a president can do to encourage prosperity, of course, but running up massive deficits and spending a trillion dollars on the self-inflicted wound of a war of choice certainly make it less likely.

(4) Clinton’s successful action in Yugoslavia may not have included enough work to strengthen institutions.  The Bush administration, of course, would have scorned and dismantled them, but that wasn’t evident during the Clinton presidency.


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