Sunday, September 03, 2006

Clinton-Haters' Amnesia

When Maha posted about the British pseudo-documentary on the assassination of Bush, one of the trolls (directed there by indignant wingnut bloggers) made this classic comment:

My God, yall are so hateful.
I could not stand bill clinton but I didn’t want him assasinated for God’s sake.
Unlike the left, I support whoever is President
Sound familiar?

We've been hearing more and more of this as we grow more distant from the Clinton presidency...over and over, the same thing: we didn't demonize Clinton, we didn't criticize his conduct of the war, we didn't attack his family, we didn't have violent fantasies about him, yadda yadda yadda. The unanimity of the refrain is striking; it would seem that Clinton's presidency was a time of unprecedented civility in political discourse...from the Republican side, at least.

Those of us who were there remember it differently, of course.

It's not hard to catch the Malkins and Coulters and Limbaughs in this particular lie, because their opinions in the '90s were a matter of public record. This commenter, though, appears to be a nobody, so there's really no way to verify what she says. The same is true of most of the wingnut bloggers today, even the ones who have achieved some notoriety, because they were nobodies back in the '90s--again, no way to verify.

But here's the thing: even if it were possible to track them down and nail them on it, it wouldn't be worth the effort. We know they're lying--the vast majority of them, anyway. We remember what Republicans were saying back then, and we remember that there weren't a whole lot of Republican voices condemning the incivility. I don't remember any. Not a one.

When some blowhard says 'I didn't [fill in the blank] Clinton when he was president', what they really mean is 'I don't think of myself as the sort of person who would [fill in the blank] a president, therefore I must not have done it to Clinton'. But the reason they don't think of themselves as the sort of people who would [fill in the blank] is that they confuse their desperate adulation for Bush (the adulation in inverse proportion to his competence and achievements, hence the desperation) with respect for the office of the presidency (just as they confuse the individual occupying the office with the office itself, and the office itself with the whole of the government). And when a Democrat is elected they will no longer have this confusion, and they will go back to savaging the occupant of the White House.

It's not even lying, really. It's a failure of imagination. It's the same failure of imagination that reinforces their wingnuttiness in the first place: a complete inability to imagine opposing views, to see parallels between their own circumstances and those of others, to grasp any perspective other than the one they have right now (and when that changes, that becomes what they have always believed). It's a deficiency endemic to the American right, and it drives their policies, their tactics, their arguments--everything they say and do.

[That's all, folks]