A few undigested, unfiltered thoughts for the morning. I was sitting here at my desk getting ready to work when I noticed Andrew Sullivan's screeching remarks about the new Bill Clinton interview in Newsweek.
I have or I had shelved for some time -- perhaps permanently -- my book project about the 1990s phenomenon, sociology, etc., of Clinton-hating. But these blasts of the malady renew my interest and fascination or just my zeal for the task. In his screed about Clinton's remarks about bin Laden, Sullivan departs on a wild-eyed tear about this remark from the former president.
And we know at the same time he was training people to kill me. Which was fair enoughâI was trying to get him.
Seems a rather refreshing nugget of honest reflection. The sort of unvarnished candor one can't get from elected leaders for a hundred different reasons. But here it's spun into knot of moral and situational relativism.
Sullivan's response ...
Here's Osama bin Laden, an evil man, training people in a despicable distortion of Islam to murder innocents. He's already killed Americans. He's planning the WTC massacre. And Clinton thinks it's "fair enough" for bin Laden to try and assassinate the president of the United States because the president "was trying to get him." You want to know why I'm glad Clinton isn't president right now? Statements like that.
The big zinging string of quotes out of the interview, so far at least, is about the Marc Rich pardon.
Clinton lets on to what I and others wrote more than a year ago, that the real story with the Rich pardon was Clinton's ingrained suspicions and resentments of zealous prosecutors. And how certain of his friends and confidants knew how to stroke that chord of Clinton's psyche.
Of course, not unexpectedly, Clinton says too much, at least too much for his own good in a narrow sense, though perhaps just enough in others. Asked if he would again pardon Marc Rich, Clinton's first words out of the box were ...
Probably not, just for the politics. It was terrible politics. It wasnât worth the damage to my reputation
There is a complete absence of the forced contrition we expect of politicians. Frankly, what strikes me is how similar it is, how much it reminds me of that famous scene from Primary Colors. Clinton's moments of awkward, not-always-easy-to-deal-with, self-revelation retain the power to make his enemies stutter into ridiculous and vacant loathing.