A reader writes:
Can the tech wizards at The Atlantic install a “block Hillary Clinton post” filter on your blog to benefit your increasingly pestered readers? This suggestion is intended as a helpful suggestion to keep your readership up. I know, in my case, you are soon to be deleted from my favorites list if there are many more of these stunningly repetitive posts which are starting to dominate your blog. Your point has long ago been made. You don’t like Hillary, think she doesn’t have the character to be President...yada, yada, yada. Enough already. You are starting to sound like the drunk guy in the local pub who keeps repeating the same story...”(burp) have I told you this one (burp)?” Instead of posting, you should buy ad space on your blog to make the point.
This post links to a Newsweek story about how former Clinton nemesis Richard Mellon Scaife is getting together with Bill. The blogger tries to explain what this means -- but I don't buy the explanation. It's a pretty extraordinary development. I also think it's tied into the stuff you dislike so much about the Clintons. I guess I would argue that it's the flip side of that dishonesty.
An average person wouldn't be able to sit down with Scaife after everything that's happened. It's hard to think of anything phonier -- more dishonest -- than Clinton sitting with Scaife and pretending that they're friends. The Clintons are wired differently. (So is Scaife, apparently.)
But let's step back and ask our little inner Machiavellis which kind of person makes the better prince -- the one like me, who would say, "Screw you, Scaife!", or the one like Bill who will sit down with the guy, and try to defang him. I'm trying to make a serious point here. This hollow dishonest quality of the Clintons is not always a bad thing. It allows them to do things that other people wouldn't be able to do. I think it probably allowed them to do welfare reform, for example. It allows them to sit down with Scaife.
Bush is very much the opposite. His core is inviolate. People can't change his mind. When he tries a policy, and it fails in the real world, he won't change his mind, instead he'll double down. Bush believes what he believes, and that's that. What I'm trying to argue is that in a friend, someone with Bush's core would be better than someone with Clinton's hollowness. (Ideally we'd want someone between the two extremes.)
The flip side of all of this dishonesty is a completely unfettered ability to do what's practical. And the flip side of Bush's inviolate core is an almost total inability to do anything practical.
I'm trying to call you back to your doubt. There isn't much doubt in your moral outrage over Hillary's lies about that waitress's tip. But we got into this war by going down a path full of such moral certainties. Saddam Hussein wasn't just a bad person, he was a fucking monster. HIs sick kids put people in wood chippers for fun. But letting ourselves feel that certainty, that outrage, contributed to our going down the wrong road. It doesn't seem like it should have, but again, we've run the lab experiment, and it did. And we have to come to terms with that.