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Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 1999/10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Clinton's mini-meltdown -- RECENTLY, A CONVERGENCE of factors has caused Bill Clinton to become apoplectic. Republicans should capitalize on this temporary window of vulnerability.

There is no question that Clinton is the consummate politician, a man who can turn almost any situation to his political advantage. He is at his political best when he is cool and collected, which is most of the time, considering his sociopathic nature. When he is on his game, he is cunning, calculating and manipulative.

But he may have finally exposed his Achilles' Heel. He simply cannot handle defeat or rejection of any kind. He appears to lose his Machiavellian edge when emotionally reactive.

Last week, after the Senate's stinging rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, he threw a temper tantrum disguised as a press conference, where he lambasted the Senate Republican majority for placing politics above national security.

Never mind his usual misrepresentation of the facts for now. I'm talking about his temperament. Both the Washington Post and New York Times featured photos from that press conference showing the president looking quite unpresidential.

The Post, in its story under the photo, noted that although Clinton was chiding Republicans for playing politics, it was he who was completely politicizing the issue by attacking Republicans for rejecting the pact.

Sometimes, people unwittingly provide glimpses into their own mindset in their criticisms of others. Such was the case when Clinton was asked whether Republicans voted down the treaty as part of a vendetta against him.

"It has been my experience that very often in politics when a person is taking a position that he simply cannot defend, the only defense is to attack the opponent," said Clinton. Exactly.

And remember him accusing the FBI of turning on him to divert attention from its own culpability in the Waco tragedy? There, too, Clinton was accusing others of engaging in an activity that he wrote the book on: the politics of personal destruction.

In response to a separate question, Clinton again revealed his distaste for defeat. When asked about Judge Wright's contempt ruling against him for intentional lying in his Jones deposition, he replied, "When I am out of office, I will have a lot to say about this." (This doesn't sound like the repentant sinner Clinton and his spiritual advisors have insisted he is.)

Lot to think about, huh?

Clinton has increasingly let his guard down, which the Post, in another story, attributes to his having "reached a certain, coveted point in his presidency after seven turbulent years. It is that time, at last, when he feels free to say whatever he likes."

His admission before a gay rights group in New York earlier this month was especially chilling, given what we know about his character.

"It has occurred to me really that every one of us has this little scale inside, you know. On one side, there's the light forces, and the other side, there's the dark forces in our psyche and our makeup and the way we look at the world."

Clinton's recent inability to mask his true feelings could be a result of a combination of things:

  • His presidency, indeed his political career, is coming to a close; he has known nothing but politics his entire adult life.

  • Certain aspects of his legacy are stubbornly refusing to fall into place, especially in foreign policy matters, including the failure of the treaty and the breakdown in the Wye River accords. If the stock market crashes, and the business cycle finally catches up with his presidency, he could become further unglued.

  • The public has vicariously repudiated him by refusing to warm up to the candidacies of his twin surrogates, Hillary and Al Gore.

  • The invincibility he must feel for having survived the impeachment bullet.

Congressional Republicans should take advantage of this rare occasion when Clinton is off his game.

They should deny him the opportunity to burn them again by refusing to enter into his requested budget summit. And, they should implement an across-the-board spending cut in submitting their final package of spending bills to him before the deadline this week.

They must keep him off balance by continuing to fight him toe-to-toe, deriving strength from their latest legislative victory on principle and his subsequent mini-meltdown.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
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