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In Little Rock on Saturday to celebrate the 25th reunion of the 1992 presidential campaign, the Clintons told a wealth of important truth, cheered by 3,000 in a state that now overwhelmingly rejects and widely detests them as tellers of non-truth.

Bill and Hillary can do both, you know--tell a few blatant untruths over time and yet tell authoritative truth in a singularly reflective and insightful conversation on a November weekend in Arkansas.


The authoritative truth is that America is fine except for its stupid and ever-descending politics.

Hillary couldn't help sounding bitter in her recitation of truths giving her a right to be.

Seated beside her husband at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock as James Carville moderated, she lamented and/or deplored an FBI director who helped beat her in the presidential race last year, and the Russians who "weaponized" false information against her, and Fox News partisans who threaten to make our politics "into a fiction," and a president--without calling the name, Donald Trump--who surely hasn't much time to do real work "between tweeting and golfing" and obsessing on her.

A sore loser's sour grapes, I could hear people saying. Sounds like she's the obsessing one, I could hear them adding.

But it's true that the then-FBI director sent her reeling 10 days before last November's general election with unfair public innuendo; that we're learning more about how the Russians manipulated that election; that facts are now presented in alternative forms according to what one's prejudices prefer; that she is not a murderer and never ran a child-trafficking ring out of a pizzeria, though many believe otherwise because of Internet absurdity and their own willing gullibility; and that Trump--perhaps blessedly--spends a lot of time tweeting and golfing that he otherwise could devote to imperiling the country for real.

Bill, always defter, could sound on Saturday afternoon as eventually optimistic as ever.

In that 1992 campaign, he said, he put out a booklet detailing his specific proposals, as did his chief Democratic primary rival, Paul Tsongas. Between them, he said, they got 60 percent of the primary vote.

"It was a time when people understood we were being hired to do a job and it made a difference if you knew anything," the former president said to the delight of the audience that assumed a shot at Trump.

Today, the former president said, the United States remains better-positioned for the future--economically and demographically--than any other nation on earth.

"The only thing getting in our way," he said, "is our stupid politics."

What's stupid, he said, is that genome research shows that all of us are 99.5 percent identical; yet, in American politics, we obsess on that 0.05 percent of variance, on differences by race or gender or ethnicity or religion or economic condition or mere opinion, to keep us from tapping into our overwhelming sameness to "blow through this mess."

So, why is it that these two are so widely rejected or even detested?

It's because she's heavy-handed and he's slick and shop-worn. It's because he lied, and she went with it. It's because they've gotten rich off politics.

It's because they invite fatigue in everyone except their adoring cultists and the legions who draw their political lifeblood from hating them.

None of that had anything to do with whether they were telling authoritative truth Saturday. You could have become weary of them as early as the late 1980s and yet beheld the command and importance of what they had to say on this occasion.

He was a two-term president, and, except for sex and perjury and dubious pardoning, a good and successful one who steered the country through prosperity at home and stability and influence abroad.

She got more votes for president than any other white person ever. She got nearly 3 million more votes than the man who beat her in the Electoral College last year.

The only person ever to get more votes for president was the black man who did it twice.

The decibel-level of the hatred of the Clintons has always exceeded the hatred's breadth and real relevance. These are legitimate world leaders. Their public conversation's general purpose of self-celebration shouldn't discredit the specific value of where they've been and what they've seen and what they know.

None of that changes the fact that Arkansas Democrats need to put the Clintons behind and begin a new generation with new ideas and new messages, which may, in fact, be happening.

The Clintons' truth bears heeding for the very reason that it makes a compelling case for pivoting to a new era, better than the downwardly spiraling one that entangled and engulfed them and embittered at least one of them.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 11/21/2017

Print Headline: Truth and the Clintons

Comments

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  • TimberTopper
    November 21, 2017 at 4:57 a.m.

    Another good column, John. Perhaps the wisdom and experience of these two could help the party rebuild with new faces and talent.

  • RBear
    November 21, 2017 at 6:20 a.m.

    Yes, it is a good column and doesn't mince words with Clinton's past. Looking back, if the climate today had existed then Clinton probably would not have been president. But we wouldn't have had the growth and prosperity we had during that period nor any of the landmark actions our government undertook. If Clinton had just kept to himself during that period, we would be looking back at a great presidency. Instead, it is marred by an incident with an intern that never should have happened.
    ...
    I agree it's time to move forward. I looked at the reunion this past weekend as an opportunity to reflect on and reminisce about the past, but discuss ways to move forward. I sat in on a few discussions myself about those approaches, some that could really reshape elections.
    ...
    Of course, the haters will pounce on this column with all the vitriol they can muster. They offer nothing of substance but a hatred for a successful president and a candidate who scored more votes in our nation than any other candidate except another Democrat. Yes, the election is decided by the EC but that victory was razor thin, less than a percentage point and no more votes than were cast in Pulaski County. The total was .09% of the overall vote.

  • JIMBOB47
    November 21, 2017 at 6:22 a.m.

    Just putting the word 'truth' with the name 'Clinton' in the same sentence. Are you kidding me? Why do you think Arkansas named him Slick Willie'?

  • RP57
    November 21, 2017 at 6:42 a.m.

    The only part of the column I would disagree with are the excuses for why she lost: Comey, Russian meddling, etc. By this point I think most would agree she lost because she was not a good candidate. Many who voted for Trump only did so becasue they did not want her as President, that alone is a testament to how bad a candidate she was. That's the lesson Democrats need to learn if they want to win in the future.

  • RBear
    November 21, 2017 at 7:23 a.m.

    RP57, while I agree with some of your positions I find it a little myopic looking at the election overall. Yes, many of Trump's voters were ABH voters which further cuts into his claim of winning by massive proportions. However, as I stated she "won" this election hands down. What prevented her from taking it all were the razor-thin margins in three key states. Those margins could have swung either way and outside influence most likely pushed them towards Trump.
    ...
    Looking at an article in CNN about a recent Brookings Institute study of the work demographics of America, the next three years will become interesting. Trump won in areas that have been left behind by the digital transformation. Those are rural areas where pay is low and the opportunities don't exist in quantities necessary to sustain the community. The people can't afford to leave and are bound to their residence by that lack of opportunity.
    ...
    This shift will continue and if these people don't see some relief soon, they will distance themselves from Republicans. They are what I call sound-bite voters. God, guns, and gays only plays for so long until you realize it's not helping your economic position. The new economy is the best news the Democratic Party could have. Those workers have mid to high paying jobs, vote in increasingly growing numbers, and typically vote Democrat. The handwriting is on the wall.

  • BirdDogsRock
    November 21, 2017 at 7:24 a.m.

    The only balanced budgets the federal government has had in decades were under Bill Clinton's presidency. I remember clearly a bunch of economists worrying and pontificating about the hazards of paying off the federal debt too quickly. That achievement, alone, puts Clinton in a modern-day class by himself, among Presidents. "Businessman" Trump cannot match that achievement.

  • mozarky2
    November 21, 2017 at 7:36 a.m.

    The economy under the first two years of the Clinton presidency, by any measure, was flatlined. It didn't move upward until the historic 1994 election.
    Clinton was along for the ride on the prosperity that the new Republican Congress brought.

  • Jfish
    November 21, 2017 at 7:47 a.m.

    Carville, the realist, is always entertaining and I am sure Bill was also. As usual, the third wheel, Hillary had to speak also. My thoughts, A sore loser's sour grapes, Sounds like she's the obsessing one. Please print these words on her headstone.

  • WhododueDiligence
    November 21, 2017 at 7:51 a.m.

    "Many who voted for Trump only did so because they did not want her as President, ..."
    *
    This explanation doesn't explain how Trump won the Republican nomination. In the Republican primaries, many voted for Trump because they wanted Trump to be their Republican nominee more than they wanted any of the other 16 Republican candidates to be their nominee.
    That's a very, very curious choice. What we see is what they lifted up from the rabbit hole.

  • RBear
    November 21, 2017 at 7:52 a.m.

    ROTFLMAO @ moz. I call BS on your “along for the ride claim.” Anyone with ANY brains in Econ knows the spinup or spindown for an economy takes a year or two. If anything, Republicans rose the prosperity of the Clinton WH. You are such a dumba** on issues. First ignorance on Dixiecrats and now this. Stick to shoveling coal.

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