Monday, October 11, 2004

The Hunting of the President

Pooteewheet and I watched "The Hunting of the President" last night, about the Whitewater scandal surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton. I'd agree with Rotten Tomatoes that it ranks about a 60-70% on the movie scale - the little bits they spliced in, ala Michael Moore, weren't particularly effective, even distracting, and the sum total of the movie wasn't a lot more instructive than what you might have gleaned living through the mess (although there was still the odd point to learn). However, the DVD also included Bill Clinton speaking in front of an audience during the premiere of the movie, and that was my favorite part of the whole thing. He tries to put Whitewater, and the current administration, into a historical context. He alleges that Hilary is correct - there is a vast right wing conspiracy, a conspiracy aimed at accumulating power via power and wealth for the purpose of arresting progress. He notes that many times in the history of our nation there have been watersheds where progress comes into conflict with towing the line and this current incarnation of the struggle, which started in the 60s-70s, is the newest round of something we've already seen before: just after our Republic was conceived, during the Civil War era and during the era of WWI-WWII. Sure, that covers a lot of ground, but when you tally it up, it's really only about 50 years or less he's referring to. Clinton makes the argument that in this current battle (which historically has been identifiable by impeachments and close electoral votes) the right has decided that maintaining the status quo can best be accomplished via aligning itself with the three g's that matter to a sizeable portion of those interested in staying the course: God, gays and guns. During the 60's they had decided that this was a surefire way to continue to control the government. When Carter won, they assumed that their plan had only failed because Nixon had been caught up in Watergate. But when Clinton won, the whole foundation of what they were trying to achieve was threatened, hence the all out push to destroy everything his administration claims to have accomplished and they current push to embrace even more tightly the three g's. Clinton argues that in the past, the path of progress (which is not necessarily embodied by Democrats at every stage of history) has always been the victorious path, but that it gets more difficult as money and power centralize and as moral issues are brought into the fold.

It's a very interesting addendum to Orcinus' series about the rise of fascism.

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