I never, ever thought these words would escape my lips, let alone be offered for public consumption, but here goes: I miss President Bill Clinton. With his combination of hangdog looks and haughty pride, he was as transparent as glass to those who closely followed his doings. So, for a political columnist, he was a treasure trove of material, both publicly and privately, which, in a very strange way, evinces a kind of perverted nostalgia.
Sure he dodged the draft and lied about it. And yes, he federalized one of the largest deposits of clean-burning coal in the world -- which would have come in pretty handy right now -- allegedly in return for payoffs from his Indonesian pals. And he did and still does take credit for the work of others, most notably his Republican opposition in Congress. He was never known as the hardest of workers and was habitually late, even for public appearances. And, as many have noted, his enemies list was long and possibly deadly. And finally, he was most infamously, a profligate womanizer which ultimately led to his impeachment.
But, watching him fill his face with a Big Mac and a milkshake kind of made him one of us; you know, a regular American; albeit one who was expert at coming up with new and creative ways to embrace the seven deadly sins. Not exactly the one you'd want to be the most powerful man in the free world, but, as they say, the devil you know is better than the one you don't know.
Which brings me to our current president. Unlike Mr. Clinton, who dallied in the fields of sin familiar to man since Adam, Barack Obama has committed what I would call uniquely American sins; or those transgressions that assault our national heritage and history in a manner heretofore unknown in the Oval Office. How has he done this? Let me count the ways.
Yankee ingenuity and fierce independence: While it was FDR who implemented the basic structure of the American entitlement culture and the suddenly popular Lyndon Johnson who brought it to fruition with his Great Society, Barack Obama is the first president to openly advocate that these programs, originally created as safety nets for the poor, should actually be the goal of every American; that cradle to grave government assistance is truly the new American Way. How do we know this? He tells us all the time. There's his version of the American pin-up girl, the fictional Julia, who cannot survive without the tender mercies of the Nanny State. Then there's his vastly underreported claim that "We simply cannot return to this brand of 'you're on your own' economics if we're serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country."
E Pluribus Unum: For a man of a mixed-race background who was supposed to be, among other things, the first post-racial president, he has sure gone out of this way to demonstrate that his African ancestry is surely his preferred half. From his embarrassing "beer summit," which he convened after the outcry over his comments about the black Harvard professor and the cop who legally arrested him, to his foolhardy and hasty judgments about the Trayvon Martin case before any charges were ever brought, he has done more to divide this country along racial lines than even his party's Dixiecrat ancestors.
Americans shall not kowtow before foreign powers: Our founders felt so strongly about this that they enshrined it in our Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8): "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state." It would have sickened them to think that anyone would prefer the title of "Citizen of the World" to American Citizen, let alone that our president should submissively bow to foreign potentates.
In God we trust: Although many thought Bill Clinton nothing more than a Christian opportunist -- after his moral transgressions, he was usually photographed leaving a church with his Bible firmly in hand -- at least he was never outright hostile to people of faith as is his Democratic successor, to a frightening degree. Labeling them from the start as "bitter" people who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them," he has been over the top in his disregard for those who worship God. Yet despite claims to the contrary, we are still predominately a nation that continues to do so.
America is great because she is good: This quote, of dubious attribution, has been used by a few of our presidents, but not our current one, who has seen fit to apologize for America all over the world for our supposed transgressions against it. Maybe he should heed the words of one of his supporters, Colin Powell, who once said:
We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression. We defeated Fascism. We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II… And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer?... [D]id we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.