Monday, January 28, 2008

Um...Bill? Shutty!

Kiwi Polished Wingtip? Meet Teeth. And Palate. And Epiglottis...And...

I have tried my damndest to be fair.

I have extended more than reasonable courtesies.

I am no shrinking violet prone to “the vapors”, spells or couch-flops over rough words. I can sling a curaré-dipped mace of “fuck yous”, “drop deads”, and “asshats” with the next leather lung.

I say all of that to say this to the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton...

You need to step away from the microphones, shut your mouth and do a serious re-wiring of the linkages from your considerable brain to your occasionally over-active mouth before returning to the stump.

Do this...for the sake of your wife's Presidential campaign, and maybe more importantly for the sake of your reputation amongst a large swath of progressives.



We know campaigns are rough. To get a hundred votes you have to take a cock-punch or two. They are brutal by nature. And we know you get off on the sparring. It's what a political prizefighter does. But for one thing...this isn't your campaign. It's your wife's. And while it is more than within your right to use your influence, your charisma, and your raw “star-power” to aid in getting her message out and swinging voters her way—you've come perilously close to “stepping over that line” alá Dave Chappelle's Rick James characterization, via in-artful statements, clunky point-making, and perhaps some intentional taunting at the tiger cage of America's race problems. You've been slick about it for the most part—and even then, it hasn't exactly panned out.

You've been called on it here at our little zeroes-and-ones outpost of opinion and analysis and at another place I very much respect—Driftglass' fine establishment. He said this two days ago:

You are generally well-liked.

So please stop campaigning...

1...for your third term.
2...for a proper second term to make up for the one the GOP stole from you. show em! To show 'em all!

You're spoiling it for everyone else.

Kindly sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up, quit getting drunk on someone else's cork, and let the Junior Senator from the great state of New York run on her own dime.

That is all.

That was at 2:24 PM on Saturday—Four-and-a-half hours before South Cackalacky caved in on your wife's campaign like a refrigerator box roof under a 15-inch snowfall. Now, I'm not saying that you should listen to Drifty over the words of your wife's advisers like Mark Penn and...

Waitaminute. You should listen to DG over Penn's dumb ass...straight up. But Goddamn if later that day you didn't go out and make a silly, spiteful. creepyfuck statement like this one that is wrong in more ways than I have fingers and toes to count—Courtesy of TPM:

Said Bill Clinton today in Columbia, SC: "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."

This was in response to a question from ABC News' David Wright about it taking "two Clintons to beat" Obama. Jackson had not been mentioned.

Imagine if you will, asking someone the question “What flavor ice cream do you like?”, and that person mulling it over for a moment and then giving you a rundown on the relative merits of roasting versus pan sautéing free-range chicken.

Yeah, it's an answer to the question. And it's sort of food-related—but damned if it has anything to do with what was asked.

It seemed as if Bill Clinton had something—a talking point—he wanted to get out there, and when the question to prompt that talking point didn't come, he was so dead-set on getting it out there anyway that he shoe-horned it into a response to something totally unrelated. Remember, the question was about it taking “two Clintons to beat one Obama”. Not about the history of South Carolina in the grand scheme of Democratic Party primary politics.

Why bring up Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 South Carolina caucus victories in an answer about them (The Clintons) going up against Obama?

Do I have to spell it out for you?

The meme going into SC was that as it appeared that Obama was going to win the state (albeit not as handily as he eventually would) the Clinton campaign spin was building that it would be cast as a “doesn't count” victory because of the state's relatively unique demographics—that the state's large Black population skewed things “unfairly” towards Obama. That Obama was only going to get 10% of the White vote and so on, and so on, and marginaliize it...yada-yada-yada...

Well Obama got 81% of the Black vote...and 24 % of the White vote, and 49% the White vote under thirty years old leading to that swamping of Hillary Clinton's numbers there.

It left no doubt, a sour taste in her mouth, and even moreso Bill's. Aside from a few ugly little moments of calculated race-play (The infamous “Sistah Souljah” moment in his '92 campaign), he's been a friend to the African American community. Seeing that community repudiate his wife, and by extension him (as I'm certain that their internal polling that day was looking phenomenally bleak) was a slap in the face, I'm sure.

Seeing that opponent say that Clinton's presidency “was not transformative” in comparison to Reagan's and having that idea discussed as opposed to simply being trash-binned was equally galling—no doubt.

And getting word that the Kennedys were pretty much going in the opposite direction by endorsing the Clinton opponent Obama, as well as the not-so-subtle public scolding from long-time Clinton ally Rep. Jim Clyburn must have really grated his cheese.

So, when the question came up about the seeming futility they (Bill and Hillary) were having in knocking Obama back in SC, he went with an unrelated talking point as an answer—that “marginalize the victory via race” meme cited earlier.

And if you think he wasn't shoe-horning race into that answer, let me ask you—why go twenty years back to cite caucus (much different from primaries) victories in non-competitive races where the nomination was already sewn up by someone the hell else? What the hell else do Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama have in “common” besides the fact that they both won contests on SC? I suppose he could've gone back one race to 2004, where Edwards won in South Carolina and didn't get the nomination nod. Seems to me one would logically go with the most recent example of the incident to make the point that resonates most with people.

But he didn't do that.

What reason could he possibly have to spin this victory all the way back to Jesse's '84 and '88 incongruous contests—in an off-the wall, non-sequtir answer to an unrelated question.


There are few politicians out there with a better command of communication skills than Bill Clinton. He may in fact be the best one going, insofar as command of message during debate, Q&A, interviews and just off-the-cuff speaking. There have been a few in-artful constructions from him of late, some busted phraseology here and there, but this wasn't one of 'em. I don't want to hear from “tired”, or “a slip”, or “out of context”. His fucking response was entirely out of context to the question that was asked.

He was pissed and he opted to give a shitty, double-edged, back-handed “compliment” that would diminish it's recipient.

He went there.

Which is why I must agree again with Driftglass when he said:

please stop campaigning...

1...for your third term.
2...for a proper second term to make up for the one the GOP stole from you. show em! To show 'em all!

You're spoiling it for everyone else.

I'm not saying stop campaigning entirely's your wife out there and you have every right to support her endeavor. I'm saying step the fuck back for a little while, gather yourself, look in the Goddamned mirror, think about your legacy, and then go out there and comport yourself with more dignity and class than you've been showing of late. This has become obviously personal for you and you need to step away and hit the reset button, get back to zero point, or something—anything—to move away from the hissy fit sniping that's starting to re-define you in people's eyes.

I'm not gonna sit here and call you a racist. In fact, I said this last week:

Now, does that make the Clinton camp (Bill included) racist?

I honestly don't think so. It's such an amazingly freighted word and is so easy to abuse when more precise language should be used. What I think the Clinton camp is is not above using America's longstanding issues with race in politics as a distraction to put another candidate off his game and distract would-be voters from Mrs. Clinton's exposed flaws when matched against a Barack Obama. These people are first and foremost, political operators as skilled and gutter-capable in campaign theory as anyone.

What you are is a political animal. And when you go native—when that London-esque “Call Of The Wild” beckons, you're a hunter-killer of the highest order. Hunt. Consume. Sleep. Hunt. Consume. Sleep. That I can understand. But you need to realize that people seeing a bloody-jawed animal chomping at every fucking thing that goes by makes said animal look none-too-palatable after a while.

You need to vary the optics a bit and spend a little more time growling and prowling and less time gorging bloodily in the open chest cavity of something you've just downed. More “king of the jungle” and less “kill-crazy beast”. Your tendency to leap for the fucking jugular of late—even when you're not hungry—just makes you look like a bloodthirsty thug.

And trotting out Jesse's soft caucus wins in SC as a comparative to Obama's forearm shiver of a primary win while the stakes are still high was some thuggy, spiteful shit to do.

I think you know that.

It's probably why as this story threatened to cast your wife's campaign in the light of pissy, race-card playing sore-loserdom, she came out today yelling “Truce! Truce!”

You fucked up.

Whether she meant it or not, your wife the actual candidate said this:

"I believe we should take a deep breath," Clinton urged Sunday.

The internal polling on your spiteful little bon mot's damage must be awful. You gave oxygen to a fire that should have been tamped down with Florida's contest coming up tomorrow and all the Super Tuesday hub-bub that we should be talking about. Now the news cycle's wrapped up in you and the stupid shit you said.

So, as Kevin James' “King Of Queens” character is so fond of saying: “Shutty!”

Just shut up for a little bit. Don't even try to apologize—you'll fuck that up as you're all defensive, and I know you won't do it anyway, lest it make Mrs. Clinton's campaign look that much more error-prone.

You know what you did. We know what you did. And you need a time-out. Seriously. Go. Get your head right. If it means you have to go into the basement, move that false wall and grab a few leaves off the shit you've got hidden in that room with the grow-lite and you have to wrap, light and finally inhale to settle yourself down, do so by all means.

But you need to chill. For the sake of your wife's campaign. For the sake of your legacy. And for the sake of simple decency. It's ugly. It's wrong, and you know it.


That is all.

UPDATE: A family member who's home sick read this post and just forwarded the following.

Apparently, Al Sharpton told Bill to “Shut Up” today on “The View”

January 28, 2008 2:32 PM

ABC News' Rick Klein Reports: Rev. Al Sharpton on Monday weighed in on the raging debate inside the Democratic Party over former President Bill Clinton's advocacy on behalf of his wife's campaign, with two choice words for the former president: "Shut up."

On ABC's "The View," Sharpton said voters are hearing "race charges, race-tinged rhetoric" in the Democratic primary campaign, and called on the former president to cease.

"I think it's time for him to just be quiet," said Sharpton, who was a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004. "I think it's time for him to stop. As one of the most outspoken people in America, there's a time to shut up, and I think that time has come."

Sharpton didn't say which comments in particular bothered him. But many Democrats were particularly upset that the former president made an explicit comparison of Obama's campaign to Jesse Jackson's victories in South Carolina in 1984 and 1988, in an apparent attempt to explain why his wife didn't win the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

Now...Al ain't perfect by a long shot. But he's got an “S-Curl”-stained ear to the ground “around the way” and knows what people are talking about. If he's telling Bill to chill, it means regular folks are saying that to him in serious numbers. And when as motorific a mouth as Al says you need to put your tongue in neutral, that's for lack of a better phrase, sayin' somethin”.