Monday, September 25, 2006

Much Ado About... Something

Like most of you, I did not actually catch the interview between former President Clinton and Fox newsman Chris Wallace yesterday, but I've been hearing a lot about it ever since. I think this commentary captures the particulars fairly well.

Despite my admittedly somewhat leftward leanings, I have to confess that I was never particularly fond of Clinton as a president. While many of his supporters argued that one should separate his personal shortcomings from his actions as president, I was never very comfortable doing so. On at least some level, I believe that how a person acts in his/her private life is an indicator of how he/she will act in public. Or, to put it a different way, Clinton the president was the same person as Clinton the womanizer. He was just filling a different role.

But the fact remains that Clinton did know how to fill his role as president well, if certainly not to the appeasement of conservatives. And even conservatives agree that Clinton is an excellent public speaker. That's what makes yesterday's outburst so unusual. William Jefferson Clinton practically never loses his cool in public. The fact that he did so means something. (The article offers some possible explanations, and I see no need to repeat them here.)

One other thing bothers me, though. The response of Chris Wallace. It's not included in the commentary above, but this straight news article has it:
Wallace said Sunday he was surprised by Clinton's "conspiratorial view" of "a very non-confrontational question, 'Did you do enough to connect the dots and go after al Qaeda?"'

"All I did was ask him a question, and I think it was a legitimate news question. I was surprised that he would conjure up that this was a hit job," Wallace said in a telephone interview.
Now, it may be that Wallace is being completely honest here. I really don't know. Like I said, I missed the actual interview. But this quote conjures up a lot of memories of school bullies who would do something to purposely taunt someone, and when that person finally loses it and lashes out, the bully would just turn and say, "I don't know what they're talking about. I didn't do anything." Perhaps it's an unfair comparison, likening Wallace to a bully who knew exactly what he was doing in taunting his victim. But that's what this quote sounds like to me.

In the final analysis, I expect it really doesn't matter too much. Wallace's supporters will support Wallace, and Clinton's supporters will support Clinton. This kind of thing isn't likely to change any minds. But I might be wrong. Like I said, it's really not like Bill Clinton to lose control like that. The fact that he did should mean something.

1 comment:

  1. "The fact that he did should mean something."

    Hear, hear! I'm a fan of Clinton, it's true. He is and excellent public speaker, politician and, I thought, President. Even if you don't agree with all his politics, the man worked hard in office.

    Clinton never lost control in this interview, he never lost his temper. He was, however, passionately angry. Angry about Fox's double-standard, angry about that ABC movie's revisionist history... I think he's just angry. And I enjoyed seeing him getting passionate about it without every losing his excellent, logical and persuasive speaking skills.

    Hear, hear!

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