Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Character Caricature

I'm glad George W. Bush was elected President.

This was a profound insight I had into the Presidency, politics, and the electoral process this morning.

After eight years of what some described...some whose meds need the "National Nightmare," we've had five years plus of an even worse Presidency.

Bill Clinton accomplished precisely two things for this nation during his tenure: unparalleled peace, and unparalleled prosperity. He had a deeply flawed character, no doubt about it, but despite having a thoroughly blood-thirsty, hostile Congress as antagonists to him, despite having a national story about his morals on the front page of every newspaper in the nation for six years, he created arguably the greatest Presidency this nation has ever known: greater than Lincoln, greater than FDR, greater, perhaps, even than Washington's.

Comes 2000, and by hook or by crook (mostly the latter), George W. Bush, a man who put himself forth as having impeccable moral character. A "compassionate conservative" who claimed to go to church every Sunday, that Jesus was his personal role model and teacher, that God spoke to him would be running the country.

The only good this shnook has done? He acknowledged the existence of Africa. He has led the country through five years of a disatrous economy, which only now is starting to reach levels achieved in the latter half to the Clinton presidency, yet still shows massive unemployment, fewer actual people working today than in 2000 (as a percentage of the workforce), and a crippled tax base.

His "morality" includes instigating war, torture, theft, unveiling classified assets, a spike in abortions, poverty, and crime, a higher infant mortality rate than at any time since the polio vaccine was developed, and an unparalleled hatred of America and what it stands for in the world.

So why do I like the fact he was elected? Because it does two things:

1) It throws into sharp relief that Bill Clinton, for all his personal flaws and foibles, actually did good while doing right by this country. His public and administrative works were nearly impeccable ( I could argue long and hard against the Telecommunications Act, of course), and the results, undeniable.

2) It takes the "character" issue off the table for candidates at any level. No longer will a politician need to be so afraid of having a mistress (or partner!) or untraditional family. All he or she need do is to make the contrast that I just made, and the rest falls into place.

It means the country has matured a bit. It means that one need not have lived a perfect life in order to serve one's country to the best of one's abilities. The character issue has been seen by the American people for what it is, an irrelevant, obtuse, fear-laden issue, and Americans over the past five years have seen there's a whole lot more to be afraid of than a stained blue dress, things that the guy getting blown protected us from, while the guy clearing brush at "Rancho Nouveau Riche" could not find in his character to stop.

Hm. I may have to reconsider not running for the Senate...

tags technorati :