The betrayed, the defiant and the self-satisfied

Published February 23, 2001 2:37PM (EST)

Seeing red, singing the blues

Many of us on the left have been trying for years to overcome our peers' willful blindness to the moral bankruptcy of Bill Clinton and his administration. The recent revelations about unseemly gifts and unsavory pardons are far from shocking to us; if anything, the real surprise is that other liberals are actually waking up and smelling the coffee. If they could ignore or rationalize eight years of their cherished causes' being sold down the river with a shamelessness worthy of the Reagan years, one would think they'd keep right on ignoring and rationalizing through this debacle as well.

Now do you get why so many of us still voted for Ralph Nader despite all your verbal abuse?

-- Keith Ammann

OK, so I'm getting really tired of defending the Clintons too, but I know a lynch mob when I see one, and a lynching hurts us all, even if the lynchee turns out to be guilty. Let's have a responsible investigation (and some responsible journalism) here, and that would include turning the same high-powered moral microscope on some other political folk to help put this mess in perspective.

-- Jerry Crouch

I am struck by the fact that liberals really believed in Clinton -- not just used him to further their own causes, but really believed in him as a person. [People need] to wake up to the fact the Clintons are morally corrupt.

My heart truly goes out to all people who truly believed in the Clintons; trust is a terrible thing to waste.

-- Don Gaertner

The outrage should not be why Hugh Rodham got paid but ... why did Clinton pardon those two men?

-- Liz Link

First of all, let me state that Bill Clinton's administration was one that I supported vigorously through two elections. It has been clear to me since the 1992 campaign that the Republicans have sought on an ongoing basis to destroy him politically, professionally and personally. This venality was very disturbing to me, particularly because it enveloped Hillary Clinton and seemed to draw very strongly on antiquated notions of a woman's role in society.

Whitewater was a poorly conceived investment that the Republicans investigated into the ground to find a shred of evidence that they could use to destroy Clinton.

The Lewinsky scandal was an episode of shoddy personal judgment that, even if it did not diminish our confidence in Clinton's political leadership, annihilated any claim that he had to moral stewardship of the country. Again, the Republicans milked this episode to the maximum degree possible to achieve their goal of destroying Bill Clinton.

Now, as Joan Walsh describes, this latest set of incidents has done what eight years of Republican venom and hatred were not able to do -- that is, to portray Bill Clinton as someone who is so morally bankrupt that he no longer has an ounce of credibility concerning any pretense of moral rectitude.

It's not just the pardons. It's the pardons, and Monica. It's also the gifts. It's the houses bought and paid for by campaign contributors. But it's also his continuing insistence that these incidents are the fabrications of people out to destroy him. As true as it has been that there are people like that, I have always believed that you make your own luck, and nowhere is this more true than here.

I have had the good fortune to have met Bill and Hillary Clinton, and to have basked in the very real sense that they project of service to the country and the world. I am sure that this is genuine. But I cannot help but wonder why two such well-educated and worldly people could act so badly. I hope it is not too late for them to learn how to do what is right. In the meantime, I can't even bear to look at the Clintons on the news.

-- Adam Korengold

I'm stunned that anyone would, at this late date, be surprised at ex-President Clinton's actions. Besides, it seems to me that people spent eight years castigating him for every mistake he ever made, so he decided to get revenge on the whole country for making his presidency so miserable. Mean-spirited, vindictive and unpardonable, yes, but unexpected, no. What is unexpected is the level of moral outrage cast by the media about what Clinton's done; yet Bush lying about his DUI arrest during the past election campaign infuriated no one. To me, that's more ominous than anything else, since it means behind that somewhat unsophisticated look, W. is as bad as Clinton, if not worse.

-- E. McNair

Clinton was always the "Slick Willie" Arkansans warned us about in 1992. His conservative detractors were right, in the corrective sense, to go after him. But they had a disadvantage they couldn't overcome: They were precisely the wrong people to be right about Clinton. This was a classic case of what I call "The Frank Burns Syndrome."

-- T.J. Cassidy

If Bill Clinton had disappeared to the darkest forest in Arkansas, his enemies would still be attacking him for anything they could find. Hate drives the Republicans. Ronald Reagan is revered because he focused their hate on the "Evil Empire." The "Evil Empire" is not around, so this evil energy has been transferred to hating Bill Clinton ever since he beat Bush in 1992.

There are too many people who acquired power because of their Clinton-bashing and that's all they know to do. Look at Dan Burton. Can you say "One trick pony"?

This is one more nonscandal to distract the public's attention while the Bush administration is bending government policy hard to the right.

-- Josiah Barnes

Clinton has the absolute right of pardon. There isn't a shred of evidence that Clinton did anything wrong. It is all innuendo and insinuation. This is Whitewater all over again -- all smoke and mirrors -- a scandal about nothing. The right-wing spin machine has done a very good job of demonizing Clinton, where every unsubstantiated allegation is treated like the gospel.

-- Reba Shimansky

These articles about Clintonian malfeasance are useless and tired. I don't like the man, but please! I'm quite sure there's equivalent money in politics corruption à la Dubya and most of Congress, but no one has the spine to investigate it. But what do you expect from the corporate media? You guys are way behind the public. At least we recognize the problem.

Again: Big, big revelation here about Clinton! Campaign finance reform and a viable third party are the only answers. Short of that, we're going to get the same self-serving scandal reporting without really getting to the heart of the problem -- years and years of it. But does anyone at Salon clamor about that?

-- David Bishop

Submit your own rant or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about the latest Clinton scandal.

Seeing red

Frankly, I'm sick of the whole "mandate" argument against Bush. Clinton only had 43 percent of the vote in his first election in '92, and no one ever pointed out this lack of a mandate ever. Sure, Bush supposedly lost the popular election, but we never counted the absentee ballots in most states or recounted the votes of the close states for that matter. Get over it. We will never really know who won the election. We have enough problems as it is. Just let the man govern.

-- Claire Huber, Connecticut

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anger management

"Clinton Pardon Payoff Exposed" [National Enquirer]
The king of America's tabloids (and, after this and its scoop on Jesse Jackson's "love child," America's hottest political weekly?) set off another scandal that the rest of the media -- and the Clintons -- has reacted to: that Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars to represent controversial characters who received pardons from his brother-in-law. The ex-prez and his senator wife both denounced hapless Hugh Wednesday; and Rodham subsequently announced that he had returned the cash. But partisans are having a heyday on a Table Talk thread, "The Latest Smirky Diversion: The Bogus Hugh Rodham Nonsense," which is more balanced than the title would suggest. (Skip the National Enquirer's forum. Typical sample: "The Clintons was a bum before they came to washington, was a bum while there and still are bums. The democrates should be ashame oy them. jimmy carter is," writes us30n.)

Other Hugh-ing and crying:
"Luck of the Clintons Now History" [Free Republic]
"A Clinton In-Law Recieved $400,000 in 2 Pardon Cases" []
"Clinton's Brother-in-Law and Pardons" []

"I for one love Eminem, I think he's funny as hell" [Free Republic]
The day after Eminem performed with Elton John at the Grammys, there's a weird turnout online, with Freepers bashing Lynne Cheney (who denounced Eminem's lyrics Wednesday) as "a raving censorship advocate," while on PlanetOut's message board (under "General News Discussion") John gets seriously dissed by posters, including cruisenyc, who writes:

I would also like to remind you that last year it came to light that Elton had amassed quite a mound of debt.

Oh well, at the very least, Sir Poof will now have a contingent of GLAAD demonstrators who threaten to picket the upcoming Billy Joel concert -- once again creating "controversy" and guaranteeing both headlines and sales. Believe me -- this thing has legs. (Maybe in the long run he'll be able to afford a better toupee.)

"Cindy's Assertion: Nancy Reagan Responds" []
A day after the New York Post's gossip columnist, Cindy Adams, wrote that Nancy Reagan had dissed the new president as a "village idiot" she didn't vote for, Reagan angrily denies the report in a letter to the Post. On this forum, a poster feels vindicated. "Nancy kicked her Clymer," writes Doggie Do-Right, "big time." (Poor Adam Clymer.)

By Salon Staff

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