Sophistry by Sullivan:
Andrew Sullivan hard at work on a remake of 'Dynasty.' I don't think he's convincing:
SULLIVAN: "In the first Clinton term, we had an unprecedented situation where a woman elected to nothing and with no Cabinet rank was given responsibility for the entire healthcare system. She was accountable largely to a man she was married to - not the American people."
I thought the spin was 'she just served tea to ambassadors.' Guess that wasn't working--since it was self-evidently false. She wielded power on the level of a Chief of Staff. If she hadn't wielded that power effectively, being Bill's wife would not have protected her. The Clintons are adults about these kind of things.
First Ladies Reagan, Bush, or Carter couldn't flex the muscle Hillary did if they wanted to, and they didn't want that power because they couldn't handle it. It's about Hillary's mountain of talent. Bill didn't see any reason to waste it.
Lastly, she was accountable -- to Harry and Louise.
SULLIVAN: "But the trouble with such an arrangement is not its tabloidy and democratically primitive charms. It is its under-appreciated threat to democratic accountability and even the Constitution."
I wish the sky would hurry up and fall already.
SULLIVAN: "In fact, the way in which he has dominated and controlled the narrative of the Clinton campaign since Iowa suggests that if his wife wins the Oval Office, she will largely have him to thank."
1. Hillary dominated the narrative post-Iowa, not Bill. 2. So why is Obama making Bill an issue? It only gets Bill more press. 3. The reverse was true in '92; he largely has her to thank for his election.*
I don't know what Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Edwards are up to -- I doubt they're less active than Bill. They just can't command the same media attention as Bill, or as Hillary in '92.*
Is it just because Bill's a former President, or because he's a natural-born superstar like his wife? Oprah isn't a former President, she's a natural-born superstar. I doubt the 1st George Bush could have 'driven the narrative' during Jr.'s 2000 campaign -- first, he's boring and second, he went out on a loss. It's not Bill's fault he's a winner.
SULLIVAN: "To understand how this power is exercised, we are compelled to understand the personal emotional dynamics of a marriage."
With the gay marriage disaster of 2004, Sullivan and the gay community proved we don't know squat about the dynamics of straight marriage. We toyed with cultural forces we didn't understand, it exploded in our faces and set us back a quarter of a century. The last thing anyone needs to listen to is Sullivan's analysis of the relationship between a man and a woman.
SULLIVAN: "And so legitimate scrutiny can be shrouded by claims of marital privacy and privilege (as it has been before)."
Clintons and marital privacy?
SULLIVAN: "Instead, we now have to grapple with re-electing him to a third (and even fourth) term via his wife ... the last two weeks have shown beyond any doubt that this is indeed what is going on."
Full circle. She's back to serving tea while Bill runs the White House. Who thinks that amazon bruiser we saw slapping Mr. Law Review around on the stage in Las Vegas will be putty in Bill's hands? I'm more concerned about Obama's unnamed Chief Operating Officer (Shadow President). Obama's admitted he won't be running things.
Anyway, here's the game: First draw media attention to Bill. Then equate the media attention you create with an 'unconstitutional third term.' An unconvincing twist on the 'straw man' tactic. As for the power of former Presidents, in retrospect, who would object now if George Bush had followed the counsel of his former President father' on Iraq?
SULLIVAN: "There is no reason a constitutional republic should be forced to sacrifice its principles this way."
I agree we shouldn't be forced. Nobody's trying to. We can vote and decide for ourselves.
To his credit, Sullivan does track the crystal-clear dividing line in this primary: Abstraction (Sullivan/Obama) or down-to-earth reality (the Clintons)? Talk or Action? What takes priority? Decide, then vote.
Remember Gary Hart -- torpedoed by a picadillo in '88? What was so different in '92? Hillary Clinton, that's what. I remember -- clear as crystal -- the image of them sitting together -- you could sense her spine was belted with steel. She was different. She was a power spouse! Her presence said 'Grow up!' She didn't forgive him. She believed Bill's talents and economic agenda took hard-nosed priority over his faults. Voters followed her lead. He would not have become President without her.
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