Costco Politics

Tish Durkin's 2001 Atlantic article explains what makes Clintonian politics so intellectually exhausting:

...wandering through the campaign of Hillary Clintonand through the time of Bill Clintonresembles nothing more than wandering through an intimidatingly huge, bright, overstocked American supermarket, the kind that gives Third World immigrants palpitations from the varieties of mayonnaise alone. In World o' Clinton as in Food King there is, of course, much that is undeniably good: Choice! Abundance! Comfort! And yet in both places there is a sense that something is not entirely as it seems; that all those labels and colors and bargains cannot be quite real; that one's whites aren't really getting so much whiter, or one's brights so much brighter, as everyone seems to be insisting. What are pressingly referred to as "the issues" not only are test-marketed but also come in convenient, individually wrapped form, like Kraft Singles. Or, perhaps, one might think of them as "issue-ettes": they are to real issues as towelettes are to real wash towelsbetter than nothing, no doubt, but only barely related to the thing that is truly wanted. [...]

I, for one, do not blame the Clintons for pulling American politics into the gutter (it's been there beforeif, indeed, it has ever been out). But I will never forgive them for turning American politics into a Costco. Politics should have clear, or at least visible, edges, where the views of Candidate A end and those of Candidate B begin. Instead, in the world that the Clintons certainly found but then proceeded to perfect, Candidates A and B take the big questions, saw off the more dangerous edges so as not to cut themselves, and then whack each other in the head with big, steady planks on which every normal person would have to agree (Prosperity with a purpose! Working families! Save social security! Whose rally is this, anyway?). This is no way to have a lively conversation about anything, let alone a fight about the future of the country.