Republicans are getting all sloppy sentimental over memories of George W. Bush's presidency, even printing up t-shirts saying how they miss him so, so much - and that should tell you all you need to know about the phenomenon of short and selective memories. Come on - this is a guy whose approval rating when he left office was at 22%, which means that even most Republicans disapproved of him then.
So, we can acknowledge that Republicans have a wildly falsely positive memory of George W. - but liberals and Dems, we've got a problem of our own around that whole short memory thing. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton.
Maybe it's super convenient right now for some Dems to forget some things about Hillary Clinton, seeing as how she's the leading name for the 2016 presidential nominee and all (though 6 in 10 liberal Democrats want her to face a primary challenge). She's tempting, true enough: She'd be the first female President, have a second round living in the White House, after trailing hubby Bill into it way back when, she's an intelligent and accomplished woman, by most standards. And yet, there's still that something, that lurking negative that won't go away, the memory of her nasty primary fight with President Obama, her below-the-belt insults during debates, the dirty underbelly that mars the gleam and shine of the Clintons' public persona.
Think about it. There have been rumors, persisting today, that Clinton supporters gave birth to the "birther" movement, led by a group called Party Unity My Ass (PUMAs), "a splinter group of hard-core Hillary Clinton supporters who did not want to give up the ghost after the bitter 50-state Bataan Death March to the 2008 Democratic nomination," and a Texas Clinton supporter, Linda Starr.
And, when the rubber met the road, and then-candidate Obama was being accused of being a Muslim (they said it like it was a bad thing), Clinton was not outspoken against the "Obama's a Muslim" rumor. Granted, that sort of rumor is typical of a dirty political campaign - and, in this instance, particularly against a black presidential candidate - but let's not forget that the rumor was only tenuously denied by Clinton. In fact, in a 60 Minutes interview, Clinton was unwilling to staunchly defend Obama against those rumors. Her denials were, at best, tepid:
“You don't believe that Senator Obama's a Muslim?” Kroft asked Sen. Clinton.
“Of course not. I mean, that, you know, there is no basis for that. I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that,” she replied.
“You said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not…a Muslim. You don't believe that he's…,” Kroft said.
“No. No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know,” she said.
“It's just scurrilous…?” Kroft inquired.
“Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors, that I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time,” Clinton said.
"As far as I know" is something of a caveat, is it not? Clinton, crafty and cagey, knew what she was doing with her non-denial denial - and some of us haven't forgotten.
Let's at least be honest, face some facts. First off, Clinton as a feminist isn't any sort of icon; after all, she stood by her man while referring to her husband's Oval Office paramour, Monica Lewinsky, as a "narcissistic loony tune." While President Obama was on the streets as a community organizer in Chicago, Hillary was on the board of directors of Wal-Mart. And although Hillary defends herself for representing a child sexual predator (correctly, it would seem, as everyone is entitled to a defense), during the 2008 primary she lambasted President Obama for, while a practicing attorney in Chicago, representing Tony Rezko - a man she referred to as a "slum-landlord" - in his housing developments.
What has always seemed clear to some of us is that Hillary Clinton has always had skin-deep loyalties and a shifty moral center. Right and wrong don't loom large; instead, the barometer is what's best for Hillary. Competent and capable aren't the only qualifications for a presidential candidate; personal character, however inconvenient it may be to acknowledge when all you want is to see Hillary Clinton run in 2016, really does matter.