I am a Bill Clinton fan. And I'm married to an even bigger Bill Clinton fan.
I was born in 1956, and my wife was born in 1960, and we both consider Bill Clinton--in terms of governance--to be the best president of our lifetimes. In fact, we don't think it's a particularly close call.
With that in mind, we are open to a Hillary Clinton presidency.
But I also have some beefs with Bill. And one of those beefs makes me wonder if it's best for our country right now to have a Clinton II presidency.
My first beef with Bill is this: How could you come within a million miles of Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky? If you hadn't, Al Gore would be winding down a successful second term as president, and our nation and world would be infinitely better off than we have been under George W. Bush. (By the way, Bill, if you just have to have affairs, learn from George H.W. "Poppy" Bush. He chose to have an affair with Jennifer Fitzgerald, a career diplomat who had a lot to lose if word got out about her extracurricular activities. But Monica Lewinsky? She couldn't wait to flap her gums about your trysts with her. Dumb, Bill, very dumb.)
My second beef with Bill is this: Why do you persist on being all palsy with Poppy Bush? I realize that former presidents form an exclusive club, and it's natural to be cordial to Bush 41. But now we have your wife saying that, if elected, she wants to send the two of you off on a "worldwide fence-mending tour" in an effort to clear up the mess left by Bush II. (First, did it ever occur to you and the missus that Bush I might not like the sound of that?)
But here is the bigger concern, as expertly laid out recently by Mark Crispin Miller at News From the Underground. Miller is among a growing number of folks, including your humble blogger, who strongly suspect Bush II has been the most corrupt administration in the nation's history. And he worries that the Clintons' overtures to Bush I indicate that Dubya and his cronies will get a free pass if Hillary becomes president. Miller also is concerned that Barack Obama's repeated talk of bipartisanship indicates he, too, would be soft on Dubya.
"Now, I'm as keen on civilized relations as the next man," Miller writes. "But if the next man is a fascist, it would be foolish to expect him to reciprocate. And if that fascist and his goons have broken laws, they should be prosecuted, not embraced."
And here's a key point from Miller: "One reason why there's such intense 'anger at Washington' is that the Democrats have passively colluded with the Bush Republicans, and let the latter get away with murder (among other things)."
Miller draws heavily on an interview with investigative journalist Robert Parry at Democracy Now. Parry, the editor of consortiumnews.com, notes that when Bill Clinton first took office, he had an opportunity to lead the effort to get to the bottom of several GOP scandals--Iran-Contra, Iraqgate, the October Surprise, and Passportgate.
Investigations already were under way, but Clinton chose not to support them. Other Democrats went along. "Essentially, they swept much of this very important history and these very serious issues of wrongdoing by the Reagan-Bush administrations under the rug," Parry says.
And that led to the disastrous second Bush administration. "The result was to essentially establish Reagan's legacy in a very positive light, to establish George H.W. Bush's legacy quite well, and that opened the door for the restoration of the Bush dynasty in 2000," Parry says.
Alabama's primary is coming soon, on February 5, and this is one Democrat who is not sure who he will vote for. I've yet to receive any indication that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are serious about getting to the bottom of corruption in the Bush II administration, especially its sewer-like justice department.
I agree with the great singer-songwriter John Fogerty--I think we need a Gunslinger. I want to know who is going to take that kind of attitude into the White House.
Based on what I've seen so far, I'm starting to think John Edwards might be the most likely Gunslinger. My theory is that, within the GOP, corporate greed and political corruption go hand in hand. Edwards has vowed to take on corporate fat cats, and my hope is that would lead him to go after political corruption, as well.
Edwards certainly should be interested in getting to the bottom of corruption in the Bush Justice Department. One of Edwards' strongest supporters in the Deep South, Mississippi attorney Paul Minor, currently is in federal prison for crimes we have shown he did not commit. Mississippi judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield also are political prisoners from the Minor case.
Thanks to the reporting of Harper's Scott Horton we know that not long after George W. Bush took office in 2001, his political team started thinking about the 2004 election. And the person they considered most likely to be Dubya's opponent was John Edwards. It wasn't long before government officials conducted raids on the offices of several attorneys who supported Edwards. Was this a blatant effort to cut off funds to Edwards? Was that why Paul Minor was targeted?
Clinton and Obama have been strangely quiet about the issue of corruption in the Bush Justice Department. Many observers are saying that Edwards won the Democratic debate on Monday night, strengthening his prospects in the South Carolina primary. I would suggest that Edwards could make his case even stronger by raising the issue of corruption in the Bush DOJ.
Americans understand the concepts of cheats and crooks. It's time that one of the Democratic presidential candidates clearly lays out the case for going after the people who have turned our Justice Department into a cesspool.
It's also time that a Democratic candidate makes it clear to the American people that we have at least four true political prisoners in federal custody--the three Minor defendants and former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Most Americans think of a political prisoners as someone who suffered in the history books, under someone like Josef Stalin.
But it's happening right now, under someone named George W. Bush.
Who will make the case to the American people that something must be done about it? Is John Edwards the candidate to do it?