Magazine article The Nation

Clinton as Dog

Magazine article The Nation

Clinton as Dog

Article excerpt

Counseled by friends of mature judgment, I tried to like Clinton. It's impossible. Listening to him is like having a pillow stuffed into one's mouth. He just can't stop talking.

He must have had a terrible childhood. The other day I was reading Adorno and Horkheimer's essay on stupidity in Dialectic of Enlightenment and came across the following:

  Every partial stupidity of a man denotes a spot where the play
   of stirring muscles was thwarted instead of encouraged. In the
   presence of the obstacle the futile repetition of disorganized,
   groping attempts is set in motion. A child's ceaseless queries are
   always symptoms of a hidden pain, of a first question to which
   it found no answer and which it did not know how to frame
   appropriately. Its reiteration suggests the playful determination
   of a dog leaping repeatedly at the door it does not yet know
   how to open, and finally giving up if the catch is out of reach.

There is something doglike about Clinton, smacked on the muzzle, always coming back for more. Woof woof. Paws up on your chest, eyes desperate for the nod of approval, tail going thump against the ottoman.

Never once, in three debates, did Clinton permit the word "justice" to pass his lips. Never once, in my hearing, did he disturb the airwaves with expressions of concern about the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the nonwhite and--for 99 percent of his allotted time--the nonmale. Even when he's making a relative amount of sense, as he did in the third debate when he attacked speedy deficit reduction and Perot's salvation through-pain, he spoils it.

Clinton is the ultimate distillation of neoliberalism. He thinks of human liberation in terms of asset management. Asked about poor education or lousy health care, he speaks only of "competitiveness' never about how such blights constrain people from living happier lives. …

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