Monday, August 11, 2003

Worth a Look: I wish I had time to do this right, but I'm going to have to pass. (Maybe Flyer wants to hit cleanup while he has time off -- though I suspect he has drinking to catch up on.) Todd Gitlin has published a two-fer of a freedom-kiss in his review of Hillary's Living History and Sid Blumenthal's Clinton Wars. Link via the indispensible A&LD.) It's nicely written (aside from Gitlin's evident confusion about the name of Sid's book, which he occasionally refers to as The Clinton Years, which sounds more like a musical anthology), as is typical of Gitlin, as long as you have an appetite for a praising of glossy, self-serving half-truths.

Gitlin commits some of the usual idiocy, like pointing out that Dubya's campaign book was ghostwritten, while never questioning the absurd idea that Hillary wrote her book. But, more to the meat, he ignores serious questions about Blumenthal's truthfulness (such as his apparent gift at fiction when recounting the content of his grand jury questioning) while dismissing someone like Limbaugh (who must be worked into any liberal screed as the wellspring of evil) as a "serial liar." His review of Hillary's book, too, seems to hinge on her (and Bill's) naivete and innocence. He dismisses Whitewater as a not-much-there real-estate matter (which is probably close to true), but he claims that the story was perpetuted by the right-wing media (like the New York Times . . . really!). He never mentions that the inablility of Whitewater's participants to explain some ambiguous and suspicious actions probably did more to keep the story simmering, not to mention the fact that the McDougals -- the Clintons' partners in the deal -- both ended up serving time.

The review is long on the use of the term "Clinton haters" but short on any explanation of why he was so hated, ther than that he was "the 1960s incarnate" to the right. This goes nowhere in explaining why a someone -- like me (liberal enough to support legalization of drugs, prostitution, and gambling; liberal enough to be pro-choice; liberal enough the thing the religious right is a drag on the republic) -- might despise the man anyway, for numerous reasons, among them: that he had no relationship with the truth, that he was an unprinciple conniver and schemer, that he sold out his party anytime the polls threatened his popularity, that he saw terrorists attack us at home (NYC) and abroad (Saudi Arabia, Africa, Yemen) and did next to nothing about it (even refusing, despite evidence that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, to accept Sudan's offer to extradite him). No, to Gitlin opposition to Clinton can only be the result of a worldview twisted by partisan power hunger and fear of the 1960s, whatever that means.

Enough. I have to get back to work for the American people. (Actually, that's true.) So I'll leave it at this: Gitlin isn't just some liberal crank (though he may be that, too); he's an Ivy League professor with serious cred in the Humanities circle (however much you might want to add "-jerk" to that, they write the first drft of history; the newpapers just provide the notes). I'm not the type who thinks that every other bastard in academe needs to be a rock-ribbed Republican, but Jesus God, Gitlin's living in candyland so cheaply constructed that its seams are showing to everyone but the most deluded.

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