Favorite

Democratic ex-president on Republican TV 


You could call it a perfect storm. From one direction came the epitome of political partisanship masquerading as journalism, meaning Fox News. From the other came a former president obsessed with his legacy, incapable of shutting up and famously temperamental, meaning Bill Clinton.

It produced what partisan Democrats cheer as Fox News’ comeuppance. It produced what partisan Republicans cite as evidence of Clinton’s megalomania, rage and loose screw. It produced what I see as both.

What it did was galvanize the polarized. It strengthened Clinton as champion to some. It strengthened Fox as champion to others. Any hope of either going away was tragically lost.

Fox got a sit-down interview with Clinton, apparently to talk first, but not exclusively, about Your Boy Bill’s noble initiatives on global climate control.

Yes, Clinton indeed is a great world leader, a noble ex-president — except for that part by which he is constitutionally incapable of letting his actions simply speak for themselves.

Why a former Democratic president wouldn’t turn down perfunctorily a Republican cable channel’s interview request is beyond me. Well, actually, it’s not beyond me at all. This particular former Democratic president craves attention and thinks he can win over anyone.

Fox dispatched Chris Wallace, one of its smarmier blenders of partisan purpose and journalistic veneer. That’s saying quite a lot considering Brit Hume.

Wallace and Hume — they’re worse than Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Wallace and Hume sound and look like reporters, just as Tony Snow sounded for Fox until the Bush White House decided to reassign him as the president’s direct, not indirect, apologist. A wolf is less dangerous if he wears a wolf’s clothing.

Not long into the interview, Wallace cited viewer interest and asked Clinton why he didn’t do a better job connecting the dots on Osama bin Laden.

You are aware that Republicans want to say that 9-11 was Clinton’s fault. You are aware that Clinton is determined to fashion a good legacy pro-actively rather than merely permit history to bestow one. You are aware that he’s worked too hard to overcome the Monica matter to let thousands of deaths get pinned on him.

So, he went off, much as he is widely known for going off in private.

He made some very good points. And at moments he resembled a madman.

He fares better in transcript than video. On paper, he impressively peppers Wallace with his Clintonesque litany of compelling detail in defense of his vigilance. He makes a compelling case that, in his administration, Dick Clarke was properly deployed as an anti-terrorism expert. He wonders why Fox hasn’t asked Bush why he demoted him. Hilariously, he actually challenges Wallace for smirking.

Clinton fares not so well when seen. He conveys an altogether pedestrian, untoward and unsettling image, something beneath his station. He spews about how he worked hard to “kill” bin Laden and came a lot closer than the current administration. He tried, darnit. He lets legacy-thirst sound like blood-thirst.

He accuses Fox of luring him for an interview about one thing, then sniping him with another. That’s mildly paranoid, or at least an overly impassioned irrationality.

I mean, this was Fox, for goodness sakes. What did he expect? And, to be honest, any journalist worth his salt and granted an interview with Clinton would want to steer the discussion to 9-11 and bin Laden.

So, can we declare a winner for the Clinton-Fox storm?

Yes, both, for their purposes. The losers were journalism and statesmanship, which got kicked while they were already down.


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by John Brummett

  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • Can we talk? Can we get anywhere?

    Dialogue is good. It would be even better if someone would venture off script every once in a while.
    • Sep 21, 2011
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

Most Shared

Latest in John Brummett

  • Gone to the DoG

    We're now longer carrying John Brummett's column in this space.
    • Oct 12, 2011
  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Viewed

  • A difference

    How low can a columnist go? On evidence, nowhere near as low as the president of the United States. I'd intended to highlight certain ironies in the career of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The self-anointed moral arbiter of the Senate began her career as a tobacco company lawyer — that is, somebody ill-suited to demand absolute purity of anybody, much less Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
  • Gratitude

    Now, more than ever, I find myself thankful for those who resist. Those who remind us of our higher common values. The fact-checkers and truth-tellers. Those who build bridges in communities instead of walls to segregate. The ones who stand up and speak out against injustice.
  • Money talks

    Democratic candidates face a dilemma in Arkansas. To take on the GOP members who are firmly entrenched in the state Legislature and Congress, they will need lots of money and lots of votes. The easiest way to get more votes is to spend more money. Obscene amounts of money. And thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and President Trump's judicial appointments, this will be our reality for a long time. The six Republicans who make up our congressional delegation have stopped pretending to care about their constituents. They vote in line with the interests of big corporations and lobbyists. They know what side their bread is buttered on.
  • Silly acts, good law

    It was unavoidable that the struggle by sexual minorities to gain the equal treatment that the Constitution promises them would devolve into silliness and that the majestic courts of the land would have to get their dignity sullied in order to resolve the issues.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A difference

    • Gillibrand is a tough chick, and she knows she is a political whore, like 95%…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation