As Reagan liked to say, there you go again.
The CNN poll showing Clinton's continued strong popularity with the ordinary voter (you know, the grassroots?) has become fodder for the self-appointed purity police on the left to beat up "Bubba."
Think about that for a second. The most effective Democratic president since FDR, one who has more emotional appeal to the average American than Reagan, someone who presided over a period of peace and plenty despite a savage and deafening storm from the right to bring him down any way they could and craven back-stabbing from the left to help them do that, a person of amazing intellect and political savvy. What do they call him?
You know, the biggest strike against Bill Clinton in the eyes of the left as well as the right is that he is southern white trash. This man, who can think circles around them and who has out-maneuvered, out-governed and out-charmed every politican of his era, they hate him as much as the right does, and for almost exactly the same reason. He makes them feel inadequate. He points out their own social and economic privileges, their own indulgent policy biases, and the ways in which they take so much of their success for granted.
Yeah, he's just a Bubba, just a low-class, no-account southern white boy, some guy who likes greasy food and getting fucked. Yeah, that's it. He's just a Bubba.
He sold us out! He's really just a Republican! (Does anyone besides me find this ironic in light of the curent wingnut meme that Bush is a "liberal"?) He compromised liberal principles! He just wanted people to like him! He isn't one of us!
He's a bubba.
A Rhodes scholar. A policy wonk to beat all other wonks. A well-read, well-traveled man. A workaholic. A sharp lawyer. A tireless advocate for social justice. An American success story who pulled himself out of poverty and obscurity by intelligence, ambition and hard work.
Yeah, that's Bubba.
Ordinary Americans like Clinton a lot. His "Bubba" background makes him more appealing, less threatening. He's what they could have been if they had tried, and he is respectful of what they became, because he knows just how damn hard it is to try when you're down that far. This is the emotional connection that the netroots elitists either don't get or don't want to acknowledge. Why did Clinton succeed so well across the political spectrum?
Because he is Bubba.
This one fact offends the elite of the left (blogosphere, inner-sanctum, magazine publishers, etc.) no end, because, damn it, they have good ideas, too! They know what is best for all the Bubbas of the world. You know, the benighted sheeple who really don't understand what's good for them? The not-us who should know their place and stay there while we manage the world into a better place, eat sensible diets, and are culturally hip (or at least socio-economically powerful). The left elite is still angry at the compromises, the half-measures, the careful weighing of what was possible against what was likely, even when the flat-out success of this governance is shoved in their faces. Had Clinton governed the way the left elites wanted, he would have done as Bush is doing now - do as I say 'cuz I'm the Preznit.
Me, I like Bubba.
Not 100%, and it pissed me off that he didn't keep his dick in his pants during dangerous times. The offense itself, however, was a private one, and I suspect he will pay for it the rest of his days because the people he hurt were the people he loved. Had the left been less eager to punish Clinton for the scandal, he would have come through that with less damage. But, overall, this was a masterful president who did enormous good for the nation and her citizens, precisely because he was, is, and ever shall remain a Bubba.
What the contempt for Bill Clinton on the left demonstrates is the degree of contempt the ideologues of the left have for ordinary opinion, for the fools and the flawed that make up, oh, 100% of humanity, but from which the ideologues have exempted themselves. Perhaps this is why they hate Carter, too, as he will not exempt himself from the foibles of humanity. The peculiar designation "netroots" also exposes the distinction being drawn while trying to capitalize on the sentimental value of appearing to speak for the "common man". I look at the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth that accompanied the first of the "Is NSA spying OK?" poll results yesterday. What was the meme? Those stupid sheeple who just don't understand the seriousness of this issue! Those wretched Bubbas who won't do and think and say what we want them to!
Listen up, netroots. It's a Bubba Nation.
Clinton's political genius was to know just how and when to push Bubba, the ordinary American citizen who is a little aware, a lot distracted, not very curious about anything outside their immediate life, and wary of change, to move that person to a place better for them in a way that did not instantly and automatically make it a worse place for others. It was thoughtful politics. He paid no mind to the Cassandras of either side, who predicted catastrophe for every policy and decision. He eschewed the politics of resentment. He resisted avatar politics. Though assailed by a conspiracy, he rejected appeals to paranoia so beloved of American politicians, and rampant now on left and right.
Machiavelli said that the greatest fortress of a prince is in the hearts of his people. The polls consistently show that is what Clinton has achieved, and it is driving left and right elites insane.
The Bubba abides.