Monday, February 23, 1998


Why is the Right so bug-eyed nuts about giving Clinton the sack? Are they really that morally outraged about his consensual BJ? Yes and no.

Here's my theory.

The Clinton investigation is not about any crimes he may have committed. It isn't even about his character. What it's about is his political philosophy...

Which, to folks of a certain philosophical pursuasion, is a crime and a character flaw in itself.

This is easy to spot in a number of call-ins to MSNBC and the like. Sputtering, outraged people call in and say "Convicted? Hell yes I think the pot-smoking, draft-dodging bastard should be convicted -- I was at Normandy, goddamnit! I was there!"

In their heart of hearts, the Clinton-haters don't want to throw him out because he's guilty of sexual harassment or lying to cover up his sexual harassment.

They want to throw him out because he's a pot-smoking, draft-dodging bastard. For which read: "late 60's liberal along the lines of Bobby Kennedy or Gene McCarthy." Hippy, in other words.

Which makes this, as Cartman might put it, the "Screw you, hippy" investigation.

The reason all the outraged callers want to throw him out is that, beneath his blow-dried hair, Clinton is a hippy -- and he attempted to implement his hippydippy philosophy in the practical, political world. Democracy be damned...we're turning this bus around right this INSTANT! You kids pipe down back there!

The outraged, true believer whackos on the Right feel they've got a right to subvert the democratic process because they know what's right....

They know.

It's a question of absolute truth.

* * *

By way of equal time...

To be broadminded and fair, I will admit from the gitgo that the Right has no monopoly on whackos and true believers. There are conservative nuts and, God knows, liberal nuts. There are feminists who think all sex is rape, leftists who think all property is theft, earth-firsters who'd like to rename America "Turtle Island" and send anyone of European descent swimming back across the Atlantic to the corrupt continent they came from. Fine. I'll admit it.

But the left-wing whackos tend not to have the monetary resources of multi-national corporations at their disposal and, what with the unpeeling of the former Soviet Onion, are severely underfunded and outgunned lately. These days, even Castro is getting into time-share and will probably come out with a line of cigars and designer fatigues any day now to make ends meet. It's bad, people. Bad. The Left is done for...
Which is why it's the wingnuts on the right I wanna talk about.

* * *

By way of background....

I'm not sure what "Left" and "Right" means in the first place. My hunch is that it's a vast collective hallucination that emerged when the human race freaked out at the concept of machines at the beginning of the industrial age...but let's hold on that and go for a rough working definition, at least of the Left and Right in America.
There two basic issues that divide us into Left and Right are culture and money.

The split with culture: some folks believe in absolute moral truth (God, the 10 commandments etc.), others believe that right and wrong is a creation of the human brain which varies -- and has no ultimate basis other than ad hoc agreements (the "Star Trek" prime directive theory).

The split with money: some folks believe that the power of the government ends where private property begins, (Randists, libertarians and anybody who happens to have a lot of private property), others believe in spreading the wealth and creating equal opportunity and "economic justice" (leftists, bleeding hearts and anybody who, coincidentally enough, happens not to have a lot of stuff). Social Darwinism vs. Social Mommyism. Scrooge vs Golden Crowns and Turkeys for Everyone....

It is possible to be a born-again Christian democrat who believes in spreading the wealth (Jimmy Carter). It is possible to be an avaricious I-got-mine Republican who believes in raising hell (P.J. O'Rourke).

But for purposes of expediency and political effectiveness, these differences are smoothed over in America. Spread-the-wealth democrats who think that abortion is sin have no "Christian Democratic" party to turn to. Athiest libertarians have to smile and put up with yahoos yapping about school prayer and the preordained presence of the eternal soul at the very instant of conception...


* * *

Most adults with brains can deal with contradictions, incomplete data, fuzziness and odd bedfellows...
Including a nation where both left-wingers and right-wingers can vote their ideas -- whether loony or sound -- into practice.

But the Right contains two factions that think they have a lock on absolute truth...

Christian conservatives and property rights fundamentalists.

The boundaries of these groups are fuzzy, but roughly speaking....

The Christian conservatives believe in certain absolutist positions concerning abortion, the nature of marriage (heterosexual, the husband is the boss), the protected status of institutions of religious indoctrination (vouchers for religious schools -- injecting prayer and "scientific creationism" into public schools --- if not dismantling public education entirely), etc. A lot of 'em believe that America is the "New Israel" and her armed forces the army of God. A lot of 'em also believe that any expansion of state power is a usurpation of God's authority...the evil State slouching like some rough rude beast onto the throne of God itself!

Which would be their viewpoint concerning the political program of a late 60s liberal...

Whom they would feel justified in stopping by any means necessary.

The property rights fundamentalists (Randists, libertarians, etc.) feel that the state has no more "right" to tax, regulate or redistribute private property than it does to sell certain people into slavery. If, for example, some latterday McGovernite wants to institute a plan of Socialized medicine, that latterday McGovernite has no right to do so -- and to hell with what the voters want -- their sweaty subjectivist "needs" are no claim on the rights, property or ideas of ANY free man -- somebody hand me the dynamite.

This faction, too, feels justified in stopping the blowdried secondrater in the White House by any means necessary.

What both groups tend to agree on is a need for American military primacy: Christians because we're the fist holding the sword of God, Libertarians and friends because America is the security cop in a shopping mall planet.

Clinton, while he hasn't exactly gutted the military hasn't exactly been its best friend either. Even if he were, does he have a right to be with his draft-dodging, demonstrating-against-America-on-foreign-soil background? As Whorf might say, his very presence as "Commander in Chief" is a dishonor to warriors everywhere! He is a coward has no right to lead -- eliminate him!

By any means necessary.

* * *
That's what these people think, with firm, unwavering moral conviction.

That's what they're angry about. That's what they're fighting against. That's why they swamp the call-in talkshows and bulletin boards. That's why they're willing to throw political strategy to the winds and hamstring the Republican party just to get the sumbitch...

That's what it all boils down to.

What they're angry about is what Clinton believes in and tried to do. It sure as hell ain't the oral office blowjobs. (Like any of these people give a flying shit about sexual harrasment in the workplace. Ha...HA!)

It ain't his dick. It's his doctrine.

Certain people feel that Clinton's political philosophy is evil -- whether Satanic or collectivist thuggery, take your pick. They don't want to let the man have a chance in hell of implementing his philosophy because they feel -- elections and such aside -- he doesn't have a right to.

Whether or not Clinton is actually convicted, I think it's safe to say they've won.

* * *

Which is why I think the next century is probably going to look like a cross between Neuromancer and the Handmaid's Tale. Leftism is dead. Liberalism is dead. The next war will be between the privatizers and the ayatollahs who, their other enemies crushed, will wake up one fine day to discover they really don't like each other all that much.

We've been living in interesting times for a long bloody, schizoid century...

But you ain't seen nothing yet.

Additional thoughts, possibly redundant:

According to Aristotle’s rule book, political policy should reflect political philosophy. Political philosophy, in turn, reflects all philosophy – ontology, metaphysics, ethics, etc. (In modern terms, you have a certain map of reality – your practical politics flows out of that map.)

In the real world, things aren’t that pure. People tailor their political philosophies to suit their self-interest, not the other way around. The Republicans are the party of big business, the Democrats are the party of labor and poor folks, etc. Broadly true, but not the only truth. What people think still matters. People, occasionally, vote against their naked self-interests because of their map of reality. Go figure. OK.

Broadly speaking, let’s say political parties reflect both (A) the naked self interest of certain political factions. (B) differing interpretations of reality.

This leaves Clinton with a basic chess problem. As I read somewhere, a pinned piece is a paralyzed piece. The Republicans have him pinned. 

Put it this way.

Some people in America have a religious map of reality. God, up in the sky, left us a set of rules and those rules are absolutely clear. Republicans represent this view. 

Some Americans have an areligious reality map. This doesn’t mean atheism. They don’t think “There’s no God.” They think “Taint necessarily so.” You go your way and I go mine. Worship God in your own way – or not. Either way, it’s beautiful.

If that’s your map, what results – politically -- resembles the Star Trek non-interference directive. God may or may not exist and may or not have opinions regarding premarital sex, drug use, abortion, whatever. Morality, to you, is a relative human concept, not an iron-clad set of laws handed down from the sky. You don’t know the truth. It’s not up to you to impose your working definition of truth on anybody. Live and let live. Democrats represent this view.

But they can’t admit it.

In terms of American politics, atheism, agnosticism and moral relativism are the third rail. You may think it. But you can’t say it outloud. Not if you want to get elected, anyway.

Hence, the pinned piece.

Hence, the seemingly irrational Republican anger towards Clinton.

America has a civil religion involving certain buzzwords about God, faith and family. Clinton says those buzzwords – because HE HAS TO. But the Republicans know in their hearts, that in Clinton’s heart of hearts, he doesn’t believe. 

If Clinton had been honest, he’d have said, “God don’t care if I get a BJ. There’s no right or wrong or good or evil. That’s all in your head people.”

If he’d said that, he would never have been elected.

But Clinton said the religious buzzwords he didn’t believe. And got elected.

The proof?

He cheated on his wife because he didn’t think it’s wrong.

They cheat on their wives too. But they know it’s wrong. 

That’s why they hate him.

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