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A tale of two presidents

By Jackson Murphy
web posted August 6, 2001

Last week the media had the difficult decision of deciding to televise either a speech by President George W. Bush or the coming out party of former President Bill Clinton. Newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post devoted hundreds of column inches to Clinton's re-introduction and saved but a few scant paragraphs to the real news of the day, which of course was Bush's speech to a group of African American police officers.

Clinton is hugged by U.S. Representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y) as Rangel introduced Clinton at an outdoor welcoming party to welcome Clinton to his new offices in the historic Harlem district of New York City
Clinton is hugged by U.S. Representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y) as Rangel introduced Clinton at an outdoor welcoming party to welcome Clinton to his new offices in the historic Harlem district of New York City

CNN couldn't help itself for returning to the Clinton 'love in' at the grand opening of his office in Harlem -- they went from split screen of the two presidents to just Clinton for no reason explainable by a legitimate news organization. There is nothing newsworthy about an office opening but then again this was not about news, it was about the media whore Clinton.

The media must have a memory problem. It was only six months ago that even the most earnest of Clintonites were denouncing the actions and pardons of Bill Clinton. Yet now they are celebrating another re-introduction and slight of hand by the "comeback kid".

Far from coming back, Clinton is trying to turn being ex-president into a full time job -- a sort of government in exile. "Clinton has a nice office, the best equipment, a good staff, and great security. Now all he needs is a job," quipped David Letterman. Joking aside this is a man who didn't want to relinquish the White House in the first place and in his own way, he isn't. If only it wasn't for that troublesome 22nd Amendment.

Maureen Dowd the pop-culture leftist of the New York Times sees Clinton as the, "Sinatra of politics, who always wants one more for the road, Joe" surrounded by a legion of followers who continue to worship him. In the same article Dowd criticizes Bush as being "smaller" than Clinton and adds, "Narrow, isolated, and elitist".

No Friends of Bill: Black Panthers protest Clinton's new office
No Friends of Bill: Black Panthers protest Clinton's new office

Narrow and isolated? Elitist? Clinton was the president who vacationed with the celebrity liberals at Martha's Vineyard while Bush goes to dusty old Crawford. At some point these writers are going to have to come to grips that Bush is not an isolationist or narrow-minded leader. He is open to compromise but is not willing to hand over US sovereignty to rogue nations or junk science.

Of course Bush is smaller. He understands that the presidency isn't just about 'him', but the whole nation. As Newsweek's Howard Fineman noted recently, Bush is the "PB&J President." Fineman takes the ordering of a peanut butter and jam sandwich further than its worth -- that is to say, he may be simple but he is no simpleton. Fineman also forgets that in Clinton's early years he was the overeating Big Mac junky. I like McDonald's as much as the next guy but asking for the "number one super-sized" is not caviar either.

The American people have grown to appreciate the man. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll Bush has a 63 per cent personal favorability rating and a 59 per cent job approval rating-both considerably up from his election take in November.

The downside is that Clinton is back. That is also the upside as Clinton and now his mini-me in training Gary Condit have revived the picture of democrats as the party of, by, and for scandals and interns.

But there is a realization that at 54 Clinton's ex-presidency is going to last for 20 or 30 years. This should be particularly unsettling to the Democratic Party that will now be continuously overshadowed by Clinton. Forget Al Gore, with Clinton fundraiser Terry McAuliffe entrenched in the DNC, Hillary in the Senate, and a larger than life Bill hanging on who could lead this party?

Bush's presidency makes Clinton's look like the "Bizarro" world, one where everything is imperfect. At this rate 43 is right on the right track to remain in the White House until 2008. If Clinton was Bizzaro, Bush is Superman. ESR

Jackson Murphy is a young independent commentator from Vancouver, Canada writing on domestic and international political issues. He also writes weekly at suite101.com. You can reach him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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