Bill Clinton used to talk about “the vital center” — a “third way,” neither hard left or hard right.
The hard right accused him of drug dealing and murder and being a communist (among much else). The hard left accused him of being Republican lite.
But for my money, he led the country through eight years of peace and prosperity, with a sharp focus on “building a bridge to the Twenty-First Century.” And I was not alone in my admiration: he had a higher approval rating on leaving office — 37 points net positive — than Reagan (+34%), Eisenhower (+31%), Ford (+21%), Bush 41 (+19%), LBJ (+12%), Carter (-21%), Truman (-24%), Bush 43 (-27%), or Nixon (-42%).
President Obama — who inherited a far worse mess than President Clinton — faces similarly strident criticism from both left and right. His net approval rating upon leaving office will likely not match Clinton’s (right now, it’s -8%) but I expect it to be in positive territory (as, for example, the Affordable Care Act turns out not to have destroyed America after all, but rather to have made our future healthier and our economy stronger).
The stridency on the right these days seems a lot more intense than the stridency on the left — witness folks coming from all over the country with guns to defend 20-year-scofflaw Cliven Bundy from the Bureau of Land Management — but I thought this morning, perhaps just to test my own sanity, I’d offer a recent email illustrating each end of the spectrum.
From the left, in friendly frustration over my recent “Stop Hillary” post (because Hillary, you know, is the devil), wherein I was taking the liberal side of things, but not liberal enough . . .
Tom A.: “The worst column of yours that I’ve ever read! Worse even than blaming Nader for Gore’s failings.* I’m sure you’ll get plenty of flak on this.** The light blue color of your responses was unreadable.*** And, since ‘all publicity is good publicity,’ you probably promoted Matt Salmon’s career. And what’s the point of ‘If there’s a primary, I will be neutral.’ Who did that pay off?**** You’re such an upbeat cheerleader for corporate Democrats like Obama, who has consolidated the unconstitutional presidential power grabs initiated by GWB. Nixon has been proved right: if the President does it, it’s not against the law. When will you ever see Obama’s faults? Jeebus, buddy, please get back to the basics!”
And from the right, via one of you with a Tea Party accountant . . .
Michael M.: “I was dropping off my taxes and mentioned the weather. Climate change, perhaps??? ‘Bullshit,’ this CPA with an MBA said. I got off the subject quickly, as he had his hands on my money, and moved to another topic which evolved into unions, of which he had a similar opinion. I quickly changed gears and started to discuss tax rates and somehow got onto Warren Buffet and mentioned how much I admired him. This brought a vociferous response in the form of ‘he’s not a good guy and the reason the Keystone pipeline has been stopped is that Buffett and Obama cut a deal so Buffet’s railroad could carry the oil and make money . . . and as for his tax rate’s being lower than his secretary’s, that’s bullshit, too.’ (I have learned that you cannot argue with these guys.) This quickly evolved to guns … concealed carry is a good idea, he thinks, he is himself applying for a permit. I asked if he watched FOX ‘News’ — he had it on right now in his office, he said. I went home and looked up on the Internet about Buffett and the railroad etc and ran into Peter Schiff giving a talk about Buffet and higher tax rate etc…He was calling Buffet a liar etc….the vitriol was not pleasant…I had run into this attitude on Buffet in other pieces written by people who I assume were Republicans … they don’t simply disagree but you can feel the hatred in their words … I wonder if FOX ‘News’ makes them hate or they are just unpleasant people and FOX feeds the fire… I have ordered Madness of Crowds hoping it will shed some light.”
☞ There are so many well-meaning people like the CPA / MBA described here, but my money is on Warren Buffett — long revered by CPAs and MBAs for his exceptional wisdom, integrity, success, and devotion to rational capital allocation — until he sided with the Marxist Muslim Kenyan out to destroy America so his railroad would make more money. (Virtually all of which he is giving to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.)
The real reason for foot-dragging on Keystone, of course, is not a secret deal with Warren Buffett, it’s this. And this. Which are so important, they will be tomorrow’s post to give you the whole weekend to watch them.
*No, I blame Nader for not urging swing state voters to vote for Gore, thus risking, and, as it turned out, causing, loss of the Supreme Court and everything else.
**Actually, just this one email.
*** Apparently not.
****DNC officers are expected to remain neutral in contests among Democrats.