The Faking of the
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
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.