Following up on the story of MSNBC reporter David Shuster being suspended for his comments about Chelsea Clinton, Digby has it right: why are the Clintons held to a different standard than every other candidate?
It is simply bizarre to call it “unseemly” when every candidate’s family helps him or her out on the trail. Why in the world should Chelsea Clinton be singled out?
I trust that’s a rhetorical question. The Clintons have always been held to a different standard than just about every other modern political family. We have the right wing to thank for that, and in a magnificent fit of attempted equalization, they say the left is just as bad about the Bush family, labeling it “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” (As is the case with all right-wing attempts at equalization, it doesn’t work. I am unaware that anyone is out there promoting a film that accuses George W. Bush of murdering his opponents.)
But the question remains: what is it about the Clintons that sets them apart? I suppose there are any number of answers, ranging from some deep-seated resentment based on a socio-economic snobbery (the Clintons were referred to as the “Arkansas HillBillies” by the wingnuts when Bill was elected in 1992) to just pure visceral hatred that reaches Shakespearean levels and is just as inexplicable: Iago never fully explains why he hates Othello. Was it about President Clinton’s moral failings? Certainly he was not the first president to have committed adultery, including Republicans, yet he was the first one to be indicted for the high crime and misdemeanor of lying about a blow job. Yet there he was, on trial for his political life, being accused and tried by men and women who had their own records of moral failings to account for. (I suppose in a weird way that’s the ultimate case of being tried by a jury of your peers.) It couldn’t have been their radical political philosophy: Mr. Clinton was a founder of the moderate DLC, and there are a substantial number of liberals and progressives who disagreed with his administration over everything from NAFTA and GATT to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed into law. Or was it simply the fact that regardless of what happened to them, it never seemed to get to them; the louder the shrieks and screams from the right, the bigger the grin, the more dismissive the wave of the hand. Nothing drives bullies crazier than being laughed at by their victim.
I don’t suppose we’ll ever really know, but there it is, and it manifests itself in so many different ways from the childish to the insane. The worst part of it is that none of it has anything whatsoever to do with the actual issues and problems we face in this country and how to resolve them. It’s as if we cannot bear to face them so we indulge in this adolescent behavior, and I’m afraid we’re going to spend the rest of the election fighting about crap like this than the things that really matter.