In this 100th annus mirabilis of Bob Hope, the Boy from Hope announces he should have been allowed to remain president until he was 100. Now he’s furious that his successor got to travel to Poland today. Because he knows that during his brief stay Mr. Bush will hear friendly locals greet him with cries of “Sto Lat,” which translates into “May you live 100 years.” No one has ever wished the Hope Boy that, unless maybe he had a friend named Zuza Glowacka. (Their song would have been, “Wake up, little Zuza, wake up.”) Anyway, in Poland he would have had them revise their chant to “May you be President for a hundred years.” He’s not easy to please.
Unless he’s handed an adoring review of vicious Sid Blumenthaler’s disinformational memoir. For instance, the Washington Monthly‘s reviewer, one David Greenberg, on loan from Slate magazine, where he occupies the Lubyanka chair, calls it “a vigorous, bravura performance that brings home again what a tragedy and travesty Clinton’s impeachment really was.” It’s enough to make a grown man cry while leaving Ron Brown’s funeral. To be sure, Greenberg can be brutally critical, calling the 100-year president “a man comfortable (indeed, perhaps too comfortable) with his sexuality.” But if you really want to know, impeachment was all about “the Right’s rearguard efforts to repeal advances in social tolerance and equality” and about “the central problems with our political culture.” They remain with us to this very hour and range “from the Right’s win-at-all-costs methods to its religious wing’s antipathy to the tolerance of diversity.”
So if we understand right, lying under oath is a way to express support for the University of Michigan’s admissions policies. Sexually harassing a government employee constitutes advocacy of gay rights (no wonder the impeached one liked the idea of “don’t ask, don’t tell”). Beating up on officers of the court or intimidating unfriendly witnesses is a sure way to strengthen equality under the law. It’ll take at least a century to unravel the underlying meanings of Clintonian culture. Most difficult of all will be the explanation of how the win-at-all-costs crowd failed to oust its foe when it had him where it wanted him.
Predictably, the current Bush gang is an easier mark. Janet Reno, who now sees her chance to return to the Justice Department until she turns 100, compares its agenda to that of the Nazis who ran the death camps. Her twin, Sen. Robert Byrd, for a change invoked the stormtrooper image, saying the president now has “the boot on the throat” of the Iraqis.” He issues this warning to those who never listen, never learn: “This Republic is at its greatest danger in its history because of this Administration.” To think we faced similar warnings just when Clinton was about to be impeached and tried.
Janet and Bob’s godchild E.J Dionne Jr. knows trouble when he sees it too. Bush has ruined everything, he notes. Once there were greenfields, kissed by the sun, and valleys in which Democrats used to run. Oh, and blue skies up above. But not anymore. Where once they “placed a heavy emphasis on comity and the search for the political center,” Democrats now have to contend with a “hyperpartisan” Bush who never compromises, who plays “unprecedented hardball,” who’s brought a “new ferocity” to Washington, who insists on a ramming through a “remarkably radical program” — i.e. “his big tax cut bill” for “the wealthy.” The real worry is what modifiers arrow-minded E.J. will have left in his quiver next tax cut, which will be nothing like the piddling one Bush recently signed before escaping to Europe and laying siege to the former Leningrad. Whoever said “Mission Accomplished” was in self-denial.
(Immediately suppressed rumor has it that Bush was forced to back down from a $750 billion cut and ended up signing a bill less than half that size. But that’s loose talk passed on via what Dionne terms the Republicans’ “powerful ‘echo chamber'” of “talk radio, cable television, research institutes and lobbying networks.”)
There’s a new way to defend the ancien régime at the New York Times — blame it for all the horrible anti-Clinton coverage, as Sidney Meanstreet Blumenthal does in his memoir, or as Joshua Marshall, a friendlier version Blumenthal clone, does on his website — and then ask conservatives, apparently the judge and jury in this case: Do you really want to see Howell Raines et al. fall by the wayside after all the good Clinton bashing they did in the past?
Heaven forfend. Perhaps in the spirit of denazification we flaming conservatives can build on Dionne’s vision and propose a compromise solution. Raines can stay if he wants, but he also has to become director of the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock. Or share those duties with Publisher Sulzberger. Or with one of Rick Bragg’s stringers. And he’ll have to hire newly readerless and jobless Maureen Dowd as cleaning lady. That way it can be said that this week’s EOW was one of those low-wage earners whom the president so cruelly ignored in the final version of this week’s tax cut.