Jewish World Review Sept. 4, 2013/ 29 Elul, 5773
For the record, or: The art of airbrushing history
By Paul Greenberg
There he was again, making a cameo appearance at another historical commemoration, grabbing a sliver of the limelight before it moves on. He's become the man who's always in the background but so clearly, achingly would rather be in the forefront: The Hon.
He was still as slick as ever when he got to speak for a few minutes on the 50th anniversary of the great March on
Age has not withered nor custom staled his fine clintonesque touch, which consists not just of knowing what to say but, more important, what not to say, what parts of his long, long record not to mention, what truths to avoid at all costs, lest they mar the handsome Portrait of
The man never seems to miss an opportunity to do a little moral preening -- well, moralistic preening -- when real heroes are being celebrated. Whatever his actual record on the subject being discussed. This time it was the cause of civil rights. By now he's attached himself to it with barnacle-like devotion.
But why go into detail? It might spoil the effect. Anyway, what good, red-white-and-blue, historically amnesiac American bothers to remember the specifics of the past? This is the country of the future, dude. As for the past, as the current awful phrase goes, it's history -- meaning it's over, finished, gone, irrelevant, as in, "he's history." Or as Clinton femme put it so memorably not long ago when she was being asked about her responsibility for some more recent history, "What difference at this point does it make?"
Lest we forget, painful as memory can be, and the more accurate, the more painful, the Hon. Wm. J. Clinton never did find the time (or courage) to get a civil-rights or fair-housing law passed here in
Let there be no doubt:
Not that his modus operandi changed all that much when he moved to the
How possibly justify so weasel-worded a substitute for real civil rights? Maybe he'd say he designed it to preserve his "political viability," his favorite excuse for sheer opportunism. But being the Hon.
Only those who have lived through a little
The moral genius of
But like the president who got star billing last Wednesday,
Mr. Clinton's was not an isolated miscalculation on the day's program. So much of it was a sad illustration that history can happen twice -- in this case, once as triumph and, 50 years later, as parody.
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