Those Were the Days

Fall colors from atop CHNN World Headquarters today

Fall colors from atop CHNN World Headquarters today

Back during the Clinton impeachment, which in light of our current predicament seems almost like a long lost golden era, the bilious Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a blistering, spittle-flecked screed, mercilessly berating Americans for their lack of bloodlust for Clinton, based on a series of polls that showed that most people, in overwhelming numbers, disagreed with her.  That’s the kind of thing a girl like Saunders just can’t put up with, and boy, did she say so.  (Why, pray tell, do righties hate America so?)

Admittedly, this was the December right after Republicans got roundly and deservedly shellacked in the 1998 midterms, but nonetheless steamed ahead like the Titanic toward the iceberg with a lame duck impeachment anyway, because they could, so righty idiots everywhere were spitting nails, but Saunders was particularly beside herself, as is her wont.  She huffed and she puffed, she fumed and she spit, kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West when the bucket of water was doing its work on her, and the Hag (although considerably less of a Hag in those days) let her have it.

Dear Ms. Saunders,

The poll results you so scoldingly lament in your recent column reveal something about the American people you apparently have failed to see.

First, that Americans tend to favor people who make a courageous stand to alleviate suffering rather than those who use cowardly, underhanded posturing to needlessly create it.  Think for a moment of Ms. McDougal shackled, Hillary humiliated, Monica cornered, sequestered, and betrayed, and Congress bombarded with truckloads of material that most agree is none of our business and certainly not what we have been paying Starr to collect.

Second, that Americans tend to favor those who honor friendship through thick and thin rather than those who would betray it for personal gain.  Think of McDougal shackled again; of Tripp cynically urging Monica to “get more” from Clinton, knowing that the silly girl respected her advice and would thereby entangle Clinton in the kind of serious wrongdoing she and her cronies had so far failed to find.  Think also of Hillary standing by her husband, whom she always knew was a heel but nonetheless loves, only hoping that everyone else wouldn’t find out about it.  Any betrayed wife who ever attempted to salvage a damaged marriage could only hope for the same thing.

Third, that the American people tend to favor those who respect the privacy of others rather than those who would publicly reveal someone’s most embarassing secrets for the express purpose of ruining their lives.  Think of YOUR most regrettable sexual encounter described in excruciating detail, repeatedly, on national television.

Fourth, that the American people tend to favor those who accept defeat gracefully and vow to win, fair and square, the next time around rather than reveal themselves to be little more than sore losers.  Think of Bob Dornan and every other Republican to lose an election in the past few years.

Finally, that the American people tend to favor those who respect their opinions rather than self-righteously excoriate them for thinking what they happen to think.  Think of all the pundits, Newt, and you and the silly things you all have been saying, and congressional Republicans racing into the impeachment hearings in open defiance of the will of those they supposedly represent, as was made abundantly clear in the last election.

Might I suggest that your column reveals an appalling contempt for democracy and lack of understanding of essentially, everything?  Another poll would surely reveal that of those who read that self-righteous rubbish you call your opinion,  79% think you should be clerking in a dime store.


Portland, Oregon

As you can imagine, the lovely and vivacious Ms. Saunders did not reply, but she did get her wish; the Democrats were damaged enough to allow a cretinous nincompoop like George Bush II to be elected, and we all know how that turned out.  I’ve half a mind to write her again.


  1. dirigo says:

    Hag, should I send Debra a link to the Chicken Hawk web site?

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Of course. She deserves it.

  3. nailhead tom says:

    I’m trying to figure out how to get a picture of the bowling trophy I won in 1978 into this little box. Also a picture of a big fish I caught later that same year. Don’t have a copy of the complaint I sent to Safeway over that ground chuck that made me kind of sick but should be able to remember most of it and pass it along later.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Get a blog of your own. It’s pretty easy, and less people would be there to read it if you fucked up.

      • dirigo says:

        You’re not saying Nail in the Head is persona non grata, are you Hag?

        I fear he’s not paying attention to the hints.

        • Jim White says:

          Get a bigger hammer.

          • cocktailhag says:

            I haven’t kept up at UT today, Jim, but I do think LB is maybe hitting the bong a bit more than usual here lately. He’s lovable, anyway. (Not like LL…)
            As for Ondelette, I disagree a bit with continuing the war, myself, but not in a way that would make me resort to personal attacks. I understand why he fled for such a long time.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I would never censor or ban, but I do favor a certain degree of respect for others and a healthy recognition of one’s place in someone else’s venue. I guess that’s what makes me a liberal.

          • Jim White says:

            Speaking of banning, what’s up with the re-emergence of troofers at UT tonight? I had missed previously that Little Brother is one. And I assume Derbig is just funning with them, or is he one, too?

            And then they go after ondelette again. Sheesh.

  4. Jim White says:

    Ah, but that was a golden age, wasn’t it? The wingnuts in Congress were merely tilting at a windmill that they knew would never yield. Now, they cheer on even nuttier followers to pack heat at political rallies, fan the flames of racism and homophobia and then do everything they can to undermine getting health care for those who can’t afford it and undercut all real attempts at reforming the financial system that took us to the brink of disaster. It helps not a whit that our new, hopeful president appears to be taking part in those last two activities, so that the unpopular madness is now bipartisan.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Indeed. Now they complain after they got just what they wanted and it turned out, well, shitty. You have to hand it to the right, they actually benefit, at least in their own minds from the Alzheimer’s they suffer.

    • nailhead tom says:

      In the future the Clinton years will be known as the “Classical Era” of American government and politics. Who can forget that scene, Trailer Trash Bill, standing there behind Janet Reno as she passed on responsibility for the carnage at the Branch Davidian “compound” to their “experts”. What a moment. And those photos from the Elian Gonzalez home, armored federal agents with M-16s pointed down the throats of sleepy Cuban emigre’s. Pretty hard not to feel real respect and admiration for ol’ Bill.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Is there any right wing cause it would be beneath you to defend? I remember a guy a lot like you who killed 160-some people in Oklahoma, too. I don’t remember any Batista-loving Cuban fascists getting killed in that other fracas, but correct me if I’m wrong…
        I also remember widespread prosperity and unemployment under 5%, with the government running a surplus.
        Kiss my ass.

      • skeptic says:

        Ah, yes, the Clinton administration, those were the days, before Bush II, when the AG was still an independent force, i.e., separate from the Executive Branch, rather than merely a submissive extension of it, as was AG AG, or as Harriet Miers would have been.

        Reno, otoh, was not under the thumb of Clinton. She reached her own conclusions without coercion from the WH.

        But poor, uncomprehending AG AG seemed to believe he was intended to be Bush’s personal lawyer, rather than the country’s attorney general.

        In retrospect… although not at the time… one finally appreciates the minimal fortitude of an Ashcroft, who stood up to Bush’s thugs while seriously ill, and from a hospital bed, too.

        • dirigo says:

          To Nail in the Head, with love and kisses:

          “Late Wednesday afternoon, Bush returned from Cleveland. Soon afterward, the phone started ringing in the makeshift command center next to John Ashcroft’s hospital room. Janet Ashcroft had been at her husband’s bedside for six days. He was in intensive care, sedated, recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder. Mrs. Ashcroft’s orders were unequivocal: no calls, from anyone, for any reason. According to two people who saw the FBI’s handwritten logs, the White House operator – on behalf of Gonzales or Card, it was unclear which – asked to be connected to the attorney general. The hospital switchboard, following orders, declined.

          “That evening, the FBI logged a call from the president of the United States. No one had the nerve to refuse him. The phone rang at Ashcroft’s bedside. Bush told his ailing cabinet chief that Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card were on their way.

          “The next hour or two of the story, or some of it, is now well known. After that, there is a lot that has never been told. Janet Ashcroft called her husband’s chief of staff, David Ayres. Ayres called (Deputy Attorney General Jim) Comey, who was on his way home. Comey told his driver to make a U-turn on Constitution Avenue. The driver switched on the siren, slapped a flashing light onto the roof of the car, and stepped on the gas. At 7:20 p.m., enroute, Comey got through to (Bob) Mueller at a restaurant with his wife and daughter. ‘I’ll meet you at the hospital right now.’ the FBI director said. (Jack) Goldsmith got a similar call. He stood up abruptly from dinner at home and raced to Twenty-first and Pennsylvania Avenue, phoning (Patrick) Philbin from his car. It was a stock scene from Hollywood’s men in their forties and fifties, stamping on the brakes, abandoning the double-parked vehicles, and running up the hospital stairwell as fast as their legs could pump.

          “Comey, Goldsmith, and Philbin converged on the room before Gonzales and Card arrived. As soon as he saw the layout, Comey placed another call. He spoke a few words to Mueller and handed the phone to an agent on Ashcroft’s FBI guard detail. Mueller instructed the agent ‘not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances,’ Comey said later. The attorney general was semiconscious. Comey sat at his bedside, quietly telling Ashcroft what was happening. Goldsmith and Philbin stood behind him.

          “In came the White House chief of staff and White House counsel, proffering an envelope.

          ” ‘How are you, general?’ Gonzales asked.

          ” ‘Not well,’ Ashcroft said.

          “Gonzales tried to tell Ashcroft the afternoon’s manufactured news: the Gang of Eight had spoken, and they wanted the (warrantless, domestic surveillance) program to carry on. The White House counsel used a peculiar formula.

          ” ‘We’ve achieved a legislative remediation that will address Justice’s concerns,’ he said.

          ” ‘I remember thinking, what the hell does that mean?’ Comey said, Ashcroft had relinquished his legal authority. He looked half dead. What if Gonzales actually tried to put a pen in his hand? The White House counsel testified later that ‘there are no rules’ that prevent a disabled officer from deciding, ‘I’m feeling well enough’ to return to duty.

          “The showdown with the vice president, the day before, had been excruciating, the pressure ‘so great it could crush you like a grape,’ Comey said. This was worse. Was Comey going to sit there and watch a barely conscious man make his mark on a piece of paper? ‘I didn’t know what I was going to do,’ Comey said. Right about then, Ashcroft raised himself up stiffly. He glared at his visitors and said they had no business coming. He gave a lucid account of the reason Justice had decided to withhold support. And then he went beyond that. Ashcroft said he never should have certified the program.

          ” ‘You drew the circle so tight I couldn’t get the advice that I needed,’ Ashcroft said, according to Comey. He knew things today, he said, that he should have known before they first asked for his signature. If it were up to him now, he would refuse to approve. But it was not up to him. Gesturing to his deputy (Comey), Ashcroft said, ‘There is the attorney general.’ Spent and pale, Ashcroft sank back down. As Gonzales and Card retreated, Janet Ashcroft ‘shook her head and stuck her tongue out,’ Goldsmith recalled. ‘It wasn’t funny at all. It was completely serious. He was really, really sick. He’s just expended himself. I was worried he was going to die.’

          “Mueller, who arrived soon afterward, spent a private moment with Ashcroft. He leaned over the bed.

          ” ‘Bob, I’m struggling,’ Ashcroft said.

          ” ‘In every man’s life there comes a time when the good Lord tests him,’ Mueller replied. ‘You have passed your test tonight.’ ”

          … from U-turn on Constitution Avenue


          By Barton Gellman, Penguin, 2008

        • cocktailhag says:

          I never understood the righty obsession with Janet Reno, who, as you’ll recall, also ordered a special prosecutor to look into “Whitewater,” and the rest is history. Imagine a Bush AG doing such a thing.

  5. cocktailhag says:

    Great clip, Dirigo…. I sat down to play some Bach yesterday, and boy am I rusty and terrible. I expect to be berated by my neighbors.