[digg-reddit-me]A few months ago, I wrote a post called “Before we came here, we thought of ourselves as good people” using the words of Vince Foster to encapsulate the uncommon corruptions of the Clinton years. I was thinking of and looking for the video below when writing, from the conclusion of the film Primary Colors. Both the film and the book were intended to portray barely fictional representations of the Clintons. I believe that movie (slightly more so than the book) captured in a profound way both the appeal and the darker side of the Clintons. (See the trailer here).
The conclusion to the movie is pregnant with meaning given today’s current stand-off between a Clinton and a black man, especially given the arguments made at that time.
There are many issues to tease out of this clip.
Governor Jack Stanton, the clear stand-in for Bill Clinton, is trying to convince an idealistic young black man (of about the same age was Barack Obama in 1992 when the events of the novel happen) to support him as he justifies his use of scandals, smears, dirty politics to win a brutal primary against a candidate who is riding a public groundswell of support from people fed up with politics-as-usual. The governor explains why he needed to use every item in his disposal to take down the opposing candidate, despite their shared values – because the other candidate wouldn’t be able to win in November. The logic used then by candidate Clinton and his stand-in here, Jack Stanton, is the same as the logic used by Ms. Clinton to justify her tactics and continued presence in the race today.
It goes something like this:
1. The only way to win is to win dirty. (“Lincoln had to be a whore in order to call on the ‘better angels of our nature!’ “)
2. The Democrat opposing me won’t be able to win in November. (Because he isn’t willing to play dirty enough and/or because he has some other issues or scandals in his past.)
3. No one else with a chance to win would push the issues and care about the people the Clinton/Stanton candidate would.
4. Therefore, the Clinton/Stanton has a responsibility to save the Democratic party by taking down the candidate(s) opposing them by whatever means they can – because only they can win and push forward the liberal agenda.
Various news agencies have reported that this is exactly the argument that Ms. Clinton and her surrogates have been pushing in private calls to the superdelegates. It’s worth remembering that this is not the first time they have pushed this idea and used it to justify doing whatever they needed to win.
The Clintons seem to truly believe that they alone can win and save America – and that they are justified in doing whatever needs to be done to get them power. This has been their justification to the party for every betrayal, every time they have sold out their values, for every time they have taken out an intra-party opponent.
And if they can continue to make this argument to themselves, it is going to be a long summer.
One reply on “The Price You Pay to Lead”
You’re kidding, right? You read way too much into a very well done and simple scene. This scene portrays a moment that many of us in politics are lucky enough to experience. Jack now knows that he has the nomination locked up. He knows it because he has an intuitive sense of the situation and of the politics involved. There are no implications here for race or for the 2008 election or Barack Obama or anything else . . . unless you are a freshman lit student on acid. It’s about being in the moment, and understanding the moment and being comfortable with who you are. Maybe now, four years later, you have outgrown sophomoric nonsense.