Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The Elder Statesman Pass
We should listen to Gorbachev why???
THE GOLDEN SMILE. Bill Clinton loves to break precedent. He was the first President from a trailer park Arkansas, the first to have sex in the Oval Office and blame his political enemies for the resulting scandal, the first ex-president to promote his wife as a political successor, and the first ex-president to come close to physically assaulting a journalist on TV. It's all okay, we guess, because everybody still loves Bill, but it's also interesting to examine the consequences of broken precedents.
Like that most recent one. It was Bill Clinton who reinjected himself into the American political scene when he could have done all his hundred-grand-a-pop speechifying and screwing out of the limelight. But he missed the limelight. Which is why he decided, unlike George H. W. Bush, that he should start criticizing the current administration on the record, on camera, to the press. Then, when somebody dared to ask questions about what he had or hadn't done about the most urgent issue of our times, he took umbrage, almost physically, because ex-Presidents -- i.e., elder statesmen -- are supposed to be immune from interrogation about anything more serious than the state of their golf handicap. So Bill came this close to decking Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
The message he sent to the press is that it's unacceptable to ask hard questions of an elder statesman. So now we have elder statesmen coming out of the woodwork to promote their own agendas, and the press is giving them a total pass. For example, Jimmy Carter of all people is now criticizing the Bush administration for -- don't you just love it? -- its policies with regard to North Korea:
Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday night that an agreement he brokered 12 years ago for North Korea to halt nuclear weapons development is “in the wastebasket." Carter contends the Bush administration turned its back on the deal and labeled the isolated nation part of an “axis of evil.”
Missing from the article, which you can read here, is any question to Carter about who it was who put the "deal" in the wastebasket. Or about who gave the North Koreans nuclear technology in exchange for transparently empty promises that the avowedly Stalinist state wouldn't use the gift of nuclear technology to make weapons of mass destruction. You see, that would be rude, because Carter is an elder statesman and past the age of accountability. Jimmy should send a basket of Florida oranges to the First Adulterer thanking him for his immunity.
And then there's Gorbachev. Remember him? He's on the record today with this:
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev compared the United States' proposed 700-mile wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to the Berlin Wall during a Tuesday visit to MidlandCome again? A wall to keep illegal aliens out of the United States is the same as a wall built to keep prisoners of Soviet communism inside a continental gulag?! Geez. But there's no sign that anyone in the press asked this question of Elder Statesman Gorbachev before he rode home in his limousine. Gorby should send a gift to Bill, too.
Addressing a Tuesday news conference at UTPB's Center for Energy and Economic Diversification, the JBS Public Leadership Institute Distinguished Lecture Series speaker was by turns serious and flippant prior to a reception with more than 100 people.
"You remember President Reagan standing in Berlin and saying, 'This wall should be torn down,'" said the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner. "Now the United States seems to be building almost the Wall of China between itself and this other nation with which it has been associated for many decades and has had cooperation and interaction with.
I kind of liked the old rule: once a civilian, stay a civilian and the press will only ask you about whether you had a bran muffin this morning. I'm adamantly opposed to the new rule: once a civilian, mount any dais you can find, launch your idiotic attacks at will, and the press will only ask you about whether you had a bran muffin this morning.
I can't wait for the next installments. Saddam Hussein's perspective about how to balance Kurdish nationalism with Shia jihadism. Idi Amin's wisdom about how to end the genocide in Darfur. Kofi Annan's enlightened thoughts about how to exterminate the Jews once and for all.
I don't reallly want to know whether Saddam had a bran muffin this morning. But I would like to hear what ex-President George W. Bush really thinks about the press in the free world. If the new rule applies to him as well, maybe I'll send Bill a basket of fruit myself.