Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

Mr. or Mrs. President?

…..And They’re Off

America’s presidential sweepstakes have begun in earnest. Ted Hillary_Clinton_Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Hillary Clinton have all announced their intentions, with the likes of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, and Rick Santorum all trying to figure out when the most opportune time for them to throw their hat in the ring. There’s one thing they all have in common, though. They’re “major party” candidates.

This means they’re somehow entitled to at least one news cycle’s worth of analysis about everything from whether and how they can win, to profiles of their spouses (except Bill Clinton. We know him). The others will get their respective places in the sun when the time comes.

In fact, media coverage of presidential campaigns has become formulaic to the point of numbing the brains of even the most obsessive political junkies. The rest of the population hasn’t yet tuned into the obligatory political spin. This is understandable, given the general election is more than a year away. But still, the form and substance of campaign coverage hasn’t changed much in decades. The reason? Money, pure and simple. The interlocking components of media, polling, and unfettered campaign contributions make starting the horse race early a virtual necessity.

Almost no one asks if the system benefits or hurts anyone, or whether it actually has to be this way.

Do most people in America know the name Jill Stein? It might surprise you to know she too is running for president. However, since she’s not running for the Democratic or Republican nominations, she doesn’t exist. Yet she ran on the Green Party ticket in 2012. Here’s a question for you. Who deserves more coverage, Jill Stein, or the person that finishes dead last in the Republican presidential sweepstakes?

jill_stein

There are those who think the current process of choosing who will lead the most powerful country on the planet is fine, and does not need fixing.

I disagree.

By focusing time and attention almost exclusively on the “mainstream” candidates of the two “major parties”, the media does a disservice to the democracy we say we have. That, combined with the Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court, have created a twisted political universe that shuts the average American out. And make no mistake. That’s just how the players in this game want it. All the players, that is, except you.  I’ve long believed that Americans deserved better coverage of presidential campaigns than we’ve come to accept. I’m thinking there might be some simple things just plain folks can do to cut through the clutter.

The most important one is this: Don’t form your opinion of any candidate based on a single source of information.  Compare and contrast candidate coverage from all forms of media, not just radio or television.

As you evaluate those who would be president, be clear about the priorities you have. Is one a higher minimum wage? Ironing out the kinks in the Affordable Care Act? Police brutality? Whatever you care about, candidates for president ought to be speaking out on them. If they don’t, why vote for them?

Is there are candidate or potential hopeful that you’re following? Or is it to early? You tell me.

 

 

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Is Clinton Sex Scandal Worse Than Ensign’s?

I guess it depends on who you ask. Sen. John Ensign, who loudly demanded Bill Clinton’s impeachment back in ’98, told a luncheon audience the other day that what the former president did was worse than his own sexual impropriety. Why, you may ask? Because Clinton lied about it under oath.

04MONICA
Bill Clinton hugs Monica Lewinsky

For those of you who may have forgotten, John Ensign had to admit having an affair with former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton. Hampton’s husband was Ensign’s administrative assistant, and the two families were friends. I guess the accent should be on were. Ensign says the difference between calling on Clinton to resign and not resigning himself is, quoting here, “I haven’t done anything legally wrong.”

This is a most interesting set of circumstances to contemplate. Why would a politician compare his sex scandal top another’s in the first place? There’s a good chance if he hadn’t brought it up, no one else would have. Is Ensign feeling the pressure to quit in his home state of Nevada? After all, this was his first public appearance back home since his June acknowledgment of the affair.

Maybe the apology he made to that Chamber of Commerce luncheon would be good enough. He called his straying “a distraction”. Maybe resigning from the Republican Policy Committee (did I mention he’s a Republican?) would suffice. It all comes back to the same question. Why compare his affair, which ended last year, with Bill Clinton’s, now more than 10 years old?

I guess it’s time for some truth here. Affairs among married people are universally ugly. They hurt people, intended or not. Politicians think they can get away with them, be they Bill Clinton or John Ensign. An awful lot of them don’t. Still, they do it because they can, because it makes them feel powerful. Why else mess around with a friend’s wife?

Here is what John Ensign should have told the Chamber of Commerce the other day. Obviously, he didn’t have the guts.

“I shamed myself and my family by my conduct. That conduct was my own, not to be compared to Bill Clinton or anybody else. Like Bill Clinton, I’m remaining in office to serve the people of this state, but I realize that my calls for his resignation back in 1998, in light of what I’ve done, were premature at best. There is no excuse for infidelity, and I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life. To the people of Nevada, to my colleagues in the Senate, and most of all, to my family, I’m truly sorry.”

Not likely. But what do you think? Should Sen. John Ensign compare his sex affair to Bill Clinton’s?

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Is Hillary Jealous of Bill? Or was it sexism?

Jealousy probably is the wrong word to use, but that’s exactly what a lot of media watchers concluded after the Secretary of State got testy in answering a question thought to be about her husband. Bill Clinton, you see, casts a long shadow. His work in freeing those two journalists from North Korea sent speculation abuzz.

What new role might he play in an Obama Administration? Did he freelance? How much did Hillary know about the mission in advance? There were even jokes about his being on the plane with two women.

For a lot of people, this meant the Big Dog was back.

For his wife, it meant having to share the spotlight on a situation that’s normally handled by her office. And remember, this is a woman who came close to being President of the United States, and now handles foreign policy for the most powerful nation in the world. So how is this made manifest?

A university student in Kinshasa, Congo asks her what was translated as “Mr. Clinton” would think about a World Bank concern regarding a Chinese loan offer to the Congolese government. Clinton fired back, “My husband is not Secretary of State. I am”. If you look at the video of her response, her exasperation is clear.

And you know what? She’s got a point.

Reverse the people involved here, and ask yourself if Bill Clinton would have been asked a similar question in an identical situation. Maybe, maybe not, but could Mrs. Clinton have been reacting to what she felt was a sexist inference? To add an ironic twist to the saga, ABC News says the translator got the question wrong, and that the student was actually asking what President Obama, not former President Clinton thought of that loan offer.

So now we’ll go through at least one news cycle with snarky talking heads, male and female, cocking their eyebrows and asking “What’s wrong with Hillary”? And the substantive work she’s been doing since her appointment will mean nothing. Is she getting enough rest? Will Bill be ordered to fade into the shadows? How are they really getting along?

And once again, we’ll see one unintended consequence of cable news without end. I’ve talked about it far too many times on this blog, but only the demands of the 24 hour news machine can take a possibly misunderstood question and run with it like this. And that’s because we as news/political junkies need our fix.

Too bad. But what do you think?

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