to say that they want to substitute orthoDixie for orthodoxy. And what is orthoDixie? It’s hard to figure out, but it seems to be a kind of ideological silly putty; throw it against the wall and it splatters into the design of conservative liberalism or right-wing left-wingism. The New Democrats can thereby claim to “retain ideing the ideals to be gutted in the federal budget, which, as we shall see, is exactly what Clinton did. Not surprisingly, the New Democrats put the noblest interpretation on their position. Smith writes that among the chief virtues “claimed by the Clintonites is the ability to rise above the petty disputes of normal lifeto become ‘post-ideological.’ For example, the president, upon nominating Judge Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, called her neither liberal nor conservative, adding that she ‘has proved herself too thoughtful for such labels.’ In one parenthetical aside, Clinton dismissed three hundred years of political philosophical debate. “Similarly, when Clinton made the very political decision to name conservative David Gergen to his staff, he announced that the appointment signaled that ‘we are rising above politics.”‘ This sterile notion of “politics without politics” did not afflict Clinton, however, until after he reached the White House. As a candidate, he was political right up to his adam’s apple. Then he was the fighting partisan, gushing populist rhetoric. Then he damned the rich and vowed he would make them pay their fair share of the cost of government. Then he vowed to “invest in human beings.” That was to be his big crusade: a $20 billion “investment” program which in the campaign was known as Putting People First. In the campaign there had been much talk about a “new covenant” and that sort of thing, and, as Smith notes sarcastically, “There was mention of ‘vision,’ but as they say in Texas, it was all hat and no cattle.” Once in office, all of that changed. He began speaking of fat cats as kitties who deserved their cream. Time magazine found that “the phrase ‘new covenant’ had virtually disappeared by the spring of Clinton’s first year in office. A check of five major newspapers found it mentioned forty-five times in July 1992…but only four times the following April.” It is this stunning reversal of Clinton’s attitudeor the “hijacking of the presidency” by the fat cats, as one frustrated insider put it, that supplies the drama, such as it is, in The Agenda. Probably the most outspokenly eloquent and militant of this group was Paul Begala, who had been the partner of James Carville, Clinton’s chief campaign strategist. Begala deserves special praise because it’s rare to find a campaign hired hand who hangs around and really fights to make a politician live up to the promises that the strategist had put in his mouth. On the other side were those who believed that Clinton should forget those promises and instead do whatever was necessary to please Wall Street. First and foremost, they believed he should cut the deficit \(even though, as Sam Smith points out, our deficit, as a percentage of the gross national product, is below the European interest rates would stay low enough to help the bond market. In setting Clinton’s first budget, the bond market ruled the roost. It did so through the influence of Leon E. Panetta, the budget director, whom Begala called “The Poster Boy of Economic Constipation”; Alice Rivlin, Panetta’ s assistant; Texas’ own Lloyd Bentsen, Treasury Secretary, sometimes known as “Loophole Lloyd”; and Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve. Before describing Greenspan’s secret role, let me remind you of his character. When Charles Keating, now serving time as one of the S&L scandal’s most notorious swindlers, needed help lobbying for special treatment in Washington, Greenspan hired out as a sleazy peddler of endorsements, writing letters to Congressmen and to the bank board arguing that Keating’s desires should be met because he was a financier of infinitely sound judgment and ethics. Working secretly with Bentsenby which I mean Clinton didn’t know what was going onGreenspan \(a protege of the Woodward describes as “the ghost writer of Bentsen, to whom “the bond market had become the new god,” had the most to say about how much the deficit should be reduced to please Wall Street. And Bentsen was perhaps the chief hatchetman in persuading Clinton which pro-people programs to killincluding the BTU tax and welfare reform, which Clinton had promised during his campaign. The saddest part of Woodward’s story is that Clinton clearly had neither the wit nor the will to put up a fight for a good economic plan but was, in his trashy backwater Arkansas fashion, content to accept an economic plan of which he privately said, “I know this thing is a turkey.” We are told that Clinton was frequently furious with Bentsen and Panetta, and “raged” about these “‘Wall Street’ advisers who, he said in moments of ire, didn’t care about his campaign promises or share his vision.” And yet he continued to surrender to them; indeed he continues to do so to this day, as seen by the fact that Panettawho Clinton felt had betrayed him by withholding vital information about the budgethas since been promoted to White House chief of staff. The White House described in The Agenda is one of managerial chaos matching Clinton’s mental confusion. “One moment he wanted more costly investments,” Woodward writes, “the next moment more cuts.” Woodward quotes a memo written by three of Clinton’s advisers: “One of the central problems we face is the perception that there’s no coherence or principle or purpose to the president’s actions.” Clinton sometimes sees himself clearly. “We’ve lost track of why we ran,” he says at one point. And later, bitterly to his staff: “I hope you’re all aware we’re all Eisenhower Republicans.” Pitifully, the highest hope Clinton expresses in these pages is that somehowsomehowhe will be able to get “something for the common man” into the budget before 1996 so that he can “crawl through to re-election.” ONE CANNOT conscientiously review the Woodward book without addressing the question of how such a book came to be. The frightening thing about the Clinton presidency is not, as this book shows, that it is an aimless hybrid of conservative liberalism \(if such a mixfrightening thing is that the Clinton Administration clearly has no pride. None at all. Equally evident is that within the White House there is a shocking lack of what is absolutely necessary to the management of any enterprise: loyalty to the leader. Proof of the absence of pride and loyalty lies in the existence of this book. It is constructed from an appalling flood of leaks. David Brock was right in his review of The Agenda when he said, “The only scandal here is that members of the president’s inner circle were willing to confide in Woodward their inner-most fears and frustrations and disappointments regarding Clinton’s personal failings so early in his presidency.” interviewed more than 250 persons, dozens of whom spent hours with him. All interviews were on “deep background,” which of course simply means Woodward promised never to identify the leakers \(unless you want to go through his files at Yale writes, “also provided me with memoranda, meeting notes, diaries, transcripts, schedules, or other documents.” Why the hell this rush to squeal to the press? In the life of a democratic government, leaks are, of course, not only inevitable but absolutely necessary for the dissemination of information that the public should have. If we had to rely solely on government handouts or on information that officials allowed to be put on the public record, we 20 AUGUST 19, 1994
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