Countering the 'Get Clinton' movement

My, my, my. I know the fashion is for political folks to bash Hollywood these days, but if you'll permit, I'd prefer to bash Washington for a bit.

Sometimes this place strikes me as politically toxic. It's practically radioactive, just pulsing out all this conflict and controversy and clawing down other people for self-gain.

It sure is the great steaming, bubbling center of the Get Clinton movement. And I'm not talking about just Republicans.

Assume for a moment that President Clinton is everything his worst enemies say: vacillating, passive, nonconfrontational, unable to make up his mind, frozen into indecision by the downside of every possible course of action.

How come he had a remarkably successful first two years in the presidency, and how come no one noticed?

I've never seen anybody get it coming and going the way Clinton does.
The latest ploy in the Get Clinton War is to point out that the man had not vetoed a single bill until two weeks ago. Unlike Ol' Harry Truman--boy, he just vetoed up a storm.

Excuse me, but since no one else seems to have noticed, Bill Clinton had a Democratic Congress for his first two years in office, and until the health-care fiasco (early adding shows hundreds of millions spent by the special interests to beat that one), he got what he wanted out of Congress. Family leave. AmeriCorps. His budget, which led to two solid years of steady economic growth. Etc.

Now, six months into the new Congress, the House has passed a bunch of bad bills that are only now working their way through the Senate and giving Clinton something to veto.

The other favorite Get Clinton topic is Bosnia. The clever ones say that Clinton's Bosnia policy is terrible; the cleverer ones say, "What Bosnia policy?"

Excuse me again. Can anyone up here criticizing Clinton tell us just what the hell we can and should do about Bosnia? Nope. Nobody has an answer--because there isn't one--but they sure are willing to kick Clinton for not finding it.

"Weak on foreign policy," says Senator Jesse Helms, that shining lamp of knowledge on the rest of the world, who also declares that Clinton is unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Well, let's see. He brought home the American soldiers who were sent to Somalia by George Bush. He's brought peace to Haiti, which everybody said was flat impossible. He hasn't sent the Marines anywhere so they can sit in a barracks where they can get blown up by terrorist bombers so he can look tough.

Having failed to do that, he has not then had to invade some country the size of Grenada and whip it in a fair fight to take everybody's minds off all the dead Marines. And he is the toughest president we've ever had in dealing with postwar Japan.

All by himself, without any Republican Congress to help, he cut billions out of the deficit and downsized government by tens of thousands of workers. He and Vice President Al Gore fixed the Pentagon procurement system so the folks in uniform can now go out and buy their hammers from Wal-Mart instead of paying $650 apiece for the tools.

Without a lick of help from Senators Bob Dole or Phil Gramm, Clinton put 100,000 more cops on the streets--something the R's are now planning to undo.

He's put two decent people on the Supreme Court without anyone saying they're either nut cases or personally obnoxious.

We wouldn't be having this screaming match about Medicare if Congress had voted for Clinton's managed-health-care plan. (Do you love hearing the Republicans talk solemnly about getting everyone into health maintenance organizations now? Where have we heard that before?)

If Congress had voted for Clinton's health-care plan, we could now reform the welfare system so we could get recipients into jobs instead of pushing them onto the streets.

But can you find a soul in this town who has a good word to say for the man? The guy is criticized for every single thing he does and every single thing he does not do. Bob Dole managed to sneer twice at Clinton on television last week in the span of one minute for being too tough and not tough enough in Bosnia.

Now, it is clearly true that Clinton does not like to piss people off.
He's not a joy-of-battle fellow. He's a compromiser, a persuader, a consensus-type guy. Like all pols, he likes to be liked.Normally, that's advisable political conduct. But the nation seems to be, in the jargon of psycho-babble, addicted to anger these days. The "hottest" figures of the day are indeed hot; they're good at pushing people's buttons, stirring them up, making them mad as hell at somebody.

I still believe that if Clinton keeps plugging away at making government work better, somebody's bound to notice sooner or later.

Here's an affirmative-action situation that will interest many of you.
A female teacher at one of our many local universities who does not have tenure and who has been running an entire program in a large department on her own for the past year just called in and informed me that the department was finally getting around to hiring someone else for the program.

The man they want is a "celebrity hire" in his field, and as such, he would be making almost exactly twice as much as the female teacher and would be given tenure. She was also informed: "You can teach him how to do the job, and then you'll have more time so you can do some writing and qualify for tenure."

It is sometimes declared that affirmative action has benefited middle-class white women, as though that were something to be held against it.

The famous wage gap between men and women (59 cents for every man's dollar) has been improved by exactly 5 cents over the past 30 years. At five cents every 30 years, we can expect to achieve parity in approximately 210 years.

Of course, we wouldn't want to push too fast.

Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Copyright 1995 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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Molly Ivins