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Politics: President Clinton Deserves a Break
Clinton: Victim of Dirty Politics
Truman: The Buck Stops Here
Dirty politics is as old as Moses, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. But when it rears its ugly head, it's always dirty pool.
President Bill Clinton is the latest victim, but only one of a long line of U.S. presidents and other prominent Americans to suffer the calumnies that invariably ride the coattails of great men.
Clinton, of course, is far from perfect; but aren't we all!
Is it really perfection we seek when we cast our ballots in presidential elections? Rather, aren't we looking for someone who can put -- and keep -- this nation on the right path; someone who can steer us toward economic and social justice ... for all?
Politicians, shamefully, sometimes stoop to personal attacks when their arguments fall short; worse yet, political parties sometimes adopt clandestine policies aimed at discrediting their opponents.
Dirty Politics Not a Redundancy
As the target of dirty politics (the term is not really a redundancy,) Clinton is in good company: Harry S. Truman, in my humble opinion an uncommon "common man" that history will place among our great presidents, was often derided as a failed haberdasher; Jimmy Carter was scorned as a lightweight and Southerner, a popular target of voice imitators; Gerald Ford was referred to as a buffoon who tripped getting off airplanes and, not unlike Spiro Agnew, sent golf balls soaring into unsuspecting crowds at pro-am tour events; and then, of course, there's Dan Quayle (I hope that's spelled correctly; it does have an "e" at the end, doesn't it?)
Sure, sometimes a little humor is appropriate. But when it's taken too far, when it's an organized strategy and contemptuous of the person involved, it's downright dirty pool.
Purveyors of Dirty Politics
To the purveyors of dirty politics, it matters little whether Clinton is working hard to reduce an inherited multi-million dollar deficit or fighting to ease the pain of citizens who live in fear of crime. They could care less that he's fighting an uphill battle with entrenched interest groups to try to gain desperately needed health care for millions of Americans who have little or no health insurance.
Their agenda disregards the benefits that could come from Clinton's efforts to solve many of today's major problems and requires that he be torpedoed at all costs.
Trash his presidency, they believe, and he'll lose the next election to someone more conservative ... perhaps Quayle or Bob Dole -- or maybe Ross Perot.
Bickering Over Haiti
The most recent example of dirty pool applied to Clinton is the political bickering over Haiti.
Whatever one believes about Haiti, it's dirty pool to relentlessly attack the president on every pretense.
First, Clinton's detractors cried that there would be a bloodbath if we "invaded" Haiti; then, they said that if any Americans were killed in the effort to clean up the mess, Clinton would pay the consequences; now, if (Haiti ruler Raoul) Cèdras doesn't leave Haiti and (former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand) Aristide doesn't restore order and reinstate democracy, the blame will fall on Clinton.
The truth: Clinton has succeeded beyond his dreams -- or anyone's -- in his efforts to relieve the suffering of Haitians and to bring democracy and order to that country. He's still trying.
Give the guy a break!
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Oct. 8, 1994. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.