Democratic Underground

The Faking of the Presidency
by Joe Otterbein

With words like "civility" and "bipartisan cooperation," President Bush is courting the Democrats and trying to assure the public he can bring a new tone to politics in Washington. The words and tone are sweet and giddy, and the GOP and the compliant corporate media are obviously charmed. But I am not so sure that either the congressional Democrats, or the public, are feeling so warm and fuzzy.

To show how nice they can be, Bush's congressional GOP allies are still trying to impeach Clinton in the court of public opinion by holding a hearing over Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. Certainly the same gang that watched Caspar Weinberger get a presidential pardon a few days before George Bush Sr. was to testify at his hearing, could not suddenly be worried that a president might abuse the pardon power.

You would think that the GOP would want to concentrate on making sure that they and their rich contributors get a cash payback boondoggle by passing Bush's tax cut. Instead, the news is filled with the hearing on the Rich pardon. Why is the GOP stepping on their own priorities by beating a dead horse?

The truth is the GOP does not want Clinton to fade away because he provides a distraction from the Bush Presidency itself. If they take the heat off Clinton, they are afraid the real heat may begin on Bush.

One wonders what Bush must have been feeling when he saw more demonstrators along the inaugural parade than spectators. How does he feel now about the polls showing him with the highest disapproval rating of any new president in modern times? Sure he is the one who is in the White House, but he has yet to win the hearts of anyone but those who voted for him. It is hard to act presidential when you know that more Americans voted for your opponent.

The problem for Bush and his supporters is that no matter how red-faced and indignant they become when the question of Bush's legitimacy is raised, Bush does not know what it feels like to be a legitimate president. Because that legitimacy can only come from the will of the people, and the will of the people was that they wanted Al Gore to be president.

No army of politicians armed with subpoenas and hearings and no amount of paid political pundits expressing disgust with Clinton can ever overcome that basic fact. It does not matter that he lives in the White House with all its power and glory, when he knows deep down that the victory belonged to another man.

This is why Bush must continue to kiss up to the Democrats while allowing his party to keep the heat on Clinton in the news. It is the only way he can keep that one nagging problem buried from himself and the public. No wonder he stares at his cue cards and keeps Dick Cheney at his side when he speaks. He is not confident enough in his own legitimacy to talk to the people straight on.

The age-old question of what price must be paid for glory comes to mind. How disappointing it must be to know that the people did not elect you president. And how shallow it must feel knowing that you won all that glory not by the legitimate intent of the voters, but instead by the will and power of your brother's and father's friends.

What really galls the GOP about Clinton is that they know he twice won more votes than his GOP opponents, making him our last legitimately elected president. How painful it must be to know that the man they constantly tried, and continue to try, to destroy with countless investigations and hearings, still has the support of more Americans than Bush.

That is why they cannot let Clinton go now. They must continue to bash him until the people no longer feel he was a legitimate president. Clinton's legitimacy is something Bush does not have. Bush cannot even fake his own legitimacy very well. Therefore, the GOP will not stop their witch-hunts until they have destroyed Clinton.


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