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February 11, 2008

Those Clintons
Posted by Patrick at 10:04 PM * 78 comments

Not for the first time, Jim Henley, with whom I probably have a four-drawer file cabinet’s worth of disagreements on policy particulars, demonstrates that he’s nonetheless acquainted with the same human race as I am.

Of course he loves her. And she him. Beyond reason and beyond calculation. And yes, it’s really weird. What long-term marriage on Earth isn’t?

Comments on Those Clintons:
#1 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 10:12 PM:

And yes, it’s really weird. What long-term marriage on Earth isn’t?

That certainly applies to me and my wife. At least we know it.

#2 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 10:16 PM:

Can't do anything from my own experience but agree.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 10:36 PM:

None of which is to say I'm don't still prefer Obama. I do, on policy and pragmatic grounds. But the tendency of some onlookers, even nominally sympathetic onlookers, to interpret Bill and Hillary Clinton as if they were aliens from the Zug Dimension...baffles me. Have these people ever met any actual married human beings?

#5 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 10:42 PM:

The last sentence of his post is a beautiful thing.

#6 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 10:45 PM:

I guess it all depends on what you think "weird" is, anyways...

#7 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 11:12 PM:

Well, of course -- from what little I've seen of them, and the good number of third-trusted-person reports I can get of them, I don't think either is capable of conceiving of a life without the other. "Howl by the body for days" hits the nail on the head.

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 11:15 PM:

While I know it was political at the time, when I heard Bill play "My Funny Valentine" on the sax on Hillary's birthday (with more feeling than technique), I felt the love. The curtain had closed. The big audience had gone home. There were maybe 20 people was real.

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Bill and Hillary Clinton love each other “truly, madly, deeply.”

Can his ennemies say that of their own lives? Oh, and now I want to watch that Alan Rickman movie again.

#10 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:03 AM:

Tolstoy was wrong: happy families (and happy marriages) are as individual and strange as the unhappy ones. The Clintons have always seemed to me to be very happy being together in the trenches. Sometimes they have to go looking for a new trench to work in, of course.

#11 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Well, of course they love each other. How could it be otherwise? Like any really close married couple they've been friends, lovers, comrades in arms, rivals, and each other's staunchest supporters and fiercest critics, sometimes all at once. And none of that has anything whatsoever to do with politics or ethics or anything but them.

Howling at the loss of half of yourself? Hell, yes.

#12 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:41 AM:

The link isn't working now. Is the article posted anywhere else?

#13 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:42 AM:

Emma often wonders why Hillary Clinton is not the poster woman of conservative faith. If there's one thing Mrs. C. gets, it's stand by your man.

#14 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 02:49 AM:

Isn't it great, though? Thing about the Clintons is I think they're neat's just they're not the gods on earth that so much of the public seems to expect of Presidents. Neither is Obama. Really, who could be? So here's to Bill and Hilary and Obama and to the hope that we stop trying to elect gods and start trying to elect people!

#15 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:33 AM:

I find Bill's kind of infidelity much more human and understandable than the creepy horde of women that hangs around George Bush. Condoleezza, Harriet, Karen Hughes and the others. I don't know how Laura sleeps at night.

They are close to his age and old enough to know better rather than being the horny young intern with stars in her eyes. It is the unfathomable mystery of why some women are drawn to alcoholics and abusive men. Shudder!

#16 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:45 AM:

Madeleine Robins (dite Roxane?) beat me to the Tolstoy quote - always been struck by how very different the happy couples I know are, and how dreadfully similar the unhappy ones.

#17 ::: Hilary ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:47 AM:

I find that I genuinely don't care what Bill and Hillary's relationship is, so much as I care THAT it is. It's fun to speculate, it always is, but I don't feel the why is very important here.

I suppose I see the Presidency as holding the wheel of a very large steamboat through uncharted waters in the dark. As a passenger, I don't care where the wheelman wants to go, or where they came from, or if they're happy holding the wheel... I care if they can see the icebergs coming and will steer the boat in time.

We've got a lot of icebergs ahead. It might be nice if the person holding the wheel had experienced eyes beside them, with a vested interest (whatever the cause) in the success of the person at the helm. Based on what I've seen, I'd vote for Clinton, her husband is a lucky bonus.

Obama I have less confidence in. My impression is that he has great ideas, and possibly good vision, but he seems less familiar with how to turn a boat, especially one this big.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 07:09 AM:

In the same rhetorical area: an interesting article on Michelle Obama in the WSJ.

#19 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 07:11 AM:

Or, they could have a crap marriage in many ways, but still love each other, and also see the advantages of staying together (and maybe they have an arrangement by which sexual fidelity isn't necessary). Or they could both be emotional cripples who are bound in sick codependence. We don't know. I wonder why we care, as long as they are capable of doing their jobs.

#20 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 07:36 AM:

Another Damned Medievalist @ 19

I wonder why we care, as long as they are capable of doing their jobs.

One of the reasons we care is that we don't know (or at least can't agree on) what it is that makes a good President. We have 43 examples of the species "president", and we can't even agree on which ones were good and which were not. And most Americans believe at some level that there's some basic aspect of character that's important to being a good leader, hence the constant debates about what constitutes good character and how it can be identified objectively.

#21 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 08:11 AM:

Reading Bear's comments on the Anonymous flash crowds, it suddenly hit me why so many people hate the Clintons so passionately. They have senses of humor and display them in public, and they also display a joy in what they do that, to the believer in the "Protestant Work Ethic" has to be a sign of evil.

#22 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 08:46 AM:

It drives me insane when people act like they have some secret knowledge that the only reason they're still married is because of Hillary Clinton's "ambition." How do they know?

I'm generally on Team Obama too, but I'm really turned off by all the barely veiled misogyny that's getting thrown at Hillary, even from ostensibly liberal quarters. (Making Light is a rare and valuable exception to this trend.) I like her, personally as well as politically. When I hear her speak, I hear the strong female mentors and role models I've had in my life.

How she and her husband choose to run their marriage is entirely their business, and I've never seen how it reflects on her potential to be a good President. I think she would be.

#23 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 09:25 AM:

FDR was an unfaithful husband, and his marriage with ER was complex, to say the very least. (His mother holds the title of Most Awful Mother-in-Law, Planetary Division with a Special Cluster for Being Controlling via Home Renovation.)

Their kids were, to be blunt, messed up: none of them achieved anything significant on their own, and all married and divorced repeatedly.

Seeing as we the American people got Social Security, FDIC, the SEC, just to pick a few, and pretty much life as we know it.... I really couldn't care less about the type of marriage they had.

Although it does make for fascinating reading.

#24 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Stuart @ #15 pointed out "the creepy horde of women that hangs around George Bush." A woman I'm friends with calls them his Stepford wives. They wander around, almost glassy-eyed, striving mightily to provide him whatever he lacks in whatever area they can provide it, even accidentally calling him "my husband." It's as if they want to be his Better Seven-Eighths, but at the expense of their own personalities. (Even Laura's personality [and believe me, she has one] doesn't seem willing to show itself much.) Clinton's relationships with women like Madeleine Albright or Jocelyn Elders was far different from what Junior's relationships with Connddolleezzza or "Judge" Miers, for example, seem to be.

But there's another weird quality to The Shrub's relationship with women, and that's the way he treats women of power. Not only does he patronize them, he can't keep his hands off them. Whether it's a shoulder massage, an arm around the waist, or an attempted peck on the cheek, Junior's usual style around women of power is to treat them like "somebody's wife." Clinton may have been a horn dog, but Monica Lewinsky and Paula Rice were groupies, and he didn't fondle them against their will, like the Shrub did with Angela Merkel.

And I wonder on numerous levels how Laura Bush sleeps at night.

#25 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:41 PM:

And I wonder on numerous levels how Laura Bush sleeps at night.

I occasionally remember that she's a librarian and boggle anew at her being married to the man who's done more to chip away at the first amendment since the Alien and Sedition Acts*.

*This statement not necessarily to be taken literally, as I do not have the proper historical knowledge to know if it's literally true. It sure seems true, though.

#26 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:55 PM:

#22 ::: Caroline:

I have a faint memory from NPR about one of the big name Christian preachers pushing Hillary to stay with Bill after the Lewinsky affair.

#27 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:44 PM:

Hilary @ 17:

Obama I have less confidence in. My impression is that he has great ideas, and possibly good vision, but he seems less familiar with how to turn a boat, especially one this big.

I don't see that Obama is any less likely than Clinton to turn the boat, and in truth, I don't really think that leadership skill is really what this "experience" argument is about. Clinton hasn't actually been all that successful at avoiding icebergs in the past.

So why do voters who are worried about the future choose Clinton more often than Obama? What do they mean when they say they prefer the "experienced" candidate?

My best guess: When these voters say "experience", I don't think they're talking about Clinton's experience in government. I think they're talking about our experience with her. Clinton is a familiar face, the captain we know, and if you think there's bad times ahead, then there's a certain logic in choosing her instead of Obama.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Every day I read 'The Vent' in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and I am struck by the depth of Clinton-hatred that keeps bubbling up and the repeated insistence, over the years that theirs is not a real marriage, because she didn't divorce him. My general response to this is: come again?

#30 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:08 PM:

I have the idea that many or most people can't understand Bill and Hillary because Bill and Hillary are Really, Really Smart.

They appear to have a successful non-conventional marriage. Normal enough in fandom, everybody knows one. Most everybody in the mundane world knows one, too, but they don't know that they do. It's not the kind of thing you bring up at work or at soccer games. The Clintons are just too public to keep it discreet.

Incidentally, to those who think Bill's interests are confined to interns, you may be interested to google Belinda Stronach. Oh, what the hell, here's a link.

(For the record, I think I support Obama, though, more or less because he votes against things like this and she doesn't. I could care less about how they run their marriage. Hillary is obviously a big enough girl to take care of herself.)

#31 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:10 PM:

Fragano (28): I suspect the "logic" goes something like this: If they had a real marriage, instead of a politically expedient alliance, his infidelity would have wounded her so much that she would have been forced to divorce him. The fact that she didn't divorce him therefore proves that she doesn't love him.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:25 PM:

Mary Aileen #31: By that 'logic' forgiveness is never possible.

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:32 PM:

Fragano 32: Exactly so. They don't believe in forgiveness. Or rather they believe THEY should be forgiven for everything, but that they have a right to hold grudges indefinitely, and to resent it when others do not.

#34 ::: Hilary ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:37 PM:

A.J. @ 27

Actually, I just think she'll be more successful at manipulating the people she needs to manipulate, and she's more familiar with the kinds of manipulations she's going to have to do. I suppose, at heart, I believe she cares more and will therefore be more ruthless in her pursuit of congressional cooperation, and I find those qualities important just now.

I wouldn't actually object to Obama as President. I just wouldn't choose him for it, either. I'd love to see him as Vice President, though, then maybe President on down the line once some of that shiny goodness has worn off.

#35 ::: CJ ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Yes! One of the things I've always found appealing about the Clintons is their ability to live publicly with their own flaws. I agree more often with Obama on policy, but I waver on who I'd prefer to see as president. Neither of them is going to do everything I'd like to see done. But I really hate how the Clintons are attacked in the media. Especially the misogyny turned on Hilary. In a lot of ways, I'd like to see her win just to flip off the misogynists.

#36 ::: Tazistan Jen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:38 PM:

Nice post. Yes, my long-term marriage is at least, um, eccentric. And furthermore, anyone who thinks they know what is going on in someone else's marriage is probably wrong.

#37 ::: Tazistan Jen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:39 PM:

I guess 15 years isn't really long term. Perhaps that's why it is only eccentric thus far, instead of fully weird.

#38 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:40 PM:

It's not just the Clintons.

There was talk about how John Edwards was showing Poor Character by continuing to campaign instead of going home with Elizabeth to watch her die.

Even if Elizabeth Edwards really is that sick (which is no one's business but that of the family and their doctors) the thought that she might actually want him to continue because she believed in why he was running was beyond them.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:54 PM:

Xopher #33: Which makes whatever kind of love the complainers think they experience rather odd. Oh well, what can I say?

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:59 PM:

One thing Obama has that Clinton doesn't have, is time in a state legislature (although not lots of it). Add that in, and he has more experience than she does. (I can't see him as being vindictive, either, and I can see her that way.)

What I want is a president (and a VP) who isn't a power-hungry secretive SOB, and a congress with a spine and genuine understanding of the constitution. What I'll probably get is more of the corporation-driven government of the last thirty years.

#41 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:12 PM:

Hilary @ 34:

FWIW, I wasn't attempting to guess what your reason for preferring Clinton was. I segued from mild disagreement into vague generalization about voter psychology.

#42 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:18 PM:

P J Evans @ 40

What I'll probably get is more of the corporation-driven government of the last thirty years.

With a little luck we won't have a government owned by a single industry, like the last 8 years. They don't all want the same things, so if there are enough of them running around the Mall (all 3 branches) maybe some of the corruption will cancel out.

#43 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:27 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 39

Which makes whatever kind of love the complainers think they experience rather odd.

I think the difference between the Clintons (and me and Eva!) and the social conservatives who hate them is which you consider of more importance: the private aspect of your relationship or the public. In other words, is what you do and feel more important or what other people think of what you do and feel. The Clintons' reaction to that question is "Screw 'em if they can't take a joke."

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:35 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #43: Excellent point.

#45 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:27 PM:

Hillary Clinton's attempt to turn big boats re her impossibly complicated health plan doesn't inspire much confidence, particularly since then she's become the health insurance lobbyists favorite girl.

As far as happy, loving marriages -- well Mad invoked Tolstoy. I'm going to invoke Jane Austen and Sense and Sensibility. The happy, satisfying marriage of John Dashwood and his wife make it possible to talk each other into NOT helping the Dashwood widow and her daughters, as his dead father, Henry, had requested and John had promised to do. These scenes are great comic writing, but it says something about marriages too. Then there's Emma and the direction the marriage between Vicar Elton and his Augusta, as they cleave together to mistreat Harriet, Emma's protege. Though how long they'll remain happy together, well, I at least, have my doubts!

Love, C. who is also half of a very long marriage

#46 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:31 PM:

What Obama's got that neither Clinton has is street level activist organization. That's a big deal, at least going by our friends who have been activists their entire lives.

There are some things Obama knows that they don't about people, particularly now after all the years the Clintons have been living in that bubble of power, privilege and wealth -- even if the bubble was borrowed, they got it from their friends.

Love, C.

#47 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Tazistan Jen (36):

"And furthermore, anyone who thinks they know what is going on in someone else's marriage is probably wrong."
I remember coming to exactly the same conclusion, at some personal cost, in my early adulthood.

Patrick and I have observed with interest the extremely diverse "expert opinions" that have been offered on our marriage over the years. The one we cherish most came from Gary Farber, of all unlikely sources: "If you two were any more loyal, you'd both be bumping off people who'd annoyed the other."

I've never thought he meant it kindly. But when we heard it, we nodded thoughtfully and said, "Yeah, that's just about right."

Bruce Cohen (43): I'll second Fragano. The way I'd describe the Clintons' relationship is that what they think of each other matters far more to them than what anyone else thinks of them. This undoubtedly irritates many people who aren't them.

#48 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Colin, #30: Spot on. I thought for a while that she was just sitting tight until his term was over, but when she didn't leave him then it was obvious that there was something else going on. And as you say, pretty much anyone in fandom knows someone with a non-traditional marriage, so it's not such a big step to thinking that perhaps their agreement didn't include absolute sexual fidelity. Who knows -- maybe she has a low libido and that's part of the reason they only have one child!

CJ, #35: In a lot of ways, I'd like to see her win just to flip off the misogynists.

Yeah, there's some of that. OTOH, I also worry that we'd have Bill's presidency all over again, with so much obstructionism, venom, and general nastiness directed at her that she wouldn't be able to DO much of anything. And right now the country can't afford a hamstrung President.

Bruce, #43: Excellent point. I grew up with parents who lived by the god of What Will People Think?, so I know both ends of that spectrum intimately. (I tend to live by the god of It's No One Else's Damn Business.)

#49 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 08:01 PM:

TNH #47: "If you two were any more loyal, you'd both be bumping off people who'd annoyed the other."

That could make a great parody of "The Gift of the Magi".

#50 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 09:41 PM:

Back during the Lewinsky mess, a friend with more um, adventurous sexual proclivities pointed out that a lot of Bill's language was the same as that of people in a "open" relationship.

Perhaps they didn't find his relationship with Monica "inappropriate". Monica providing BJs meant that Hillary didn't have to.

As to what the bluenoses think, skroom. It's impossible to keep them happy, so why try?

#51 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:02 PM:

TNH @ #47:

"If you two were any more loyal, you'd both be bumping off people who'd annoyed the other." I've never thought he meant it kindly.

Perhaps not, but I'd consider it quite a compliment.

#52 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 02:58 AM:


Many people find a successful male politician sleeping with a young woman in a subordinate position much more human and understandable than a successful male politician working professionally with female counselors and cabinet members; but in these politically correct days, it's rare to hear it said so explicitly.

#53 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 06:11 AM:


There isn't any sign of George working professionally with these women. They are obsessed with him in a way that has nothing to do with the job they are ostensibly doing.

George is noteworthy for the incompetence of the people attracted to him and the inappropriate roles in which he places them. A competent person of either gender would refuse to be placed in the position Harriet Meyers found herself in.

My comment is made in the context of being involved in a singles program for 15 years and seeing the unerring skill with which some people established the worst possible relationships, time after time.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 07:20 AM:

Stuart #53: I don't think anyone has yet suggested that Condoleeza Rice is incompetent. And that's Harriet Miers.

#55 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:42 AM:

If I were Hillary Clinton, I think it would be obvious to me that a great deal of my suffering about the Lewinsky affair was caused by the vast right-wing conspiracy, not by Bill.

And speaking solely as and for myself, I remain comprehensively disgusted by Linda Tripp.

#56 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:43 AM:

If I were Hillary Clinton, I think it would be obvious to me that a great deal of my suffering about the Lewinsky affair was caused by the vast right-wing conspiracy, not by Bill.

And speaking solely as and for myself, I remain comprehensively disgusted by Linda Tripp.

#57 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Sorry for the double post. I got a "your post is blocked because you've sent too many posts in a short time" message. Since I hadn't sent anything in a while, I tried sending it again.

This seems to have been a burp in the system-- I didn't get that message on my other recent posts.

#58 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Well, my (short, but continuing) marriage is - unconventional, at least. For one thing, we have very few interests in common...very few anythings in common, to be precise. However, our strengths almost perfectly complement the other's weaknesses; we both have a very good judgement on what would please or interest the other, and a great willingness to do it, even if it's not (this time) all that interesting to us; and we do, in fact, love each other and need each other. We have our problems - mostly "how do we get together time, and what do we do with it, and how do we stop it devolving into recovering from the rest of the week"; but the Stepford Wives are a story. Real marriages have problems, sometimes even solvable ones.

And, as an NT (MBTI, not OS) geek into fandom and gaming, my opinions on "after what Bill did with Monica, the marriage is irretrievably ruined", or "what Bill did with Monica would have been impossible if the marriage was not a sham", I expect, are clear without statement.

#59 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 54

I don't think anyone has yet suggested that Condoleeza Rice is incompetent

I'm withholding judgement on that until I can decide just what she thinks her job is. If she actually believes that her job is to accomplish the tasks she talks about publicly, then, yes, she's spectacularly incompetent. I suspect she really believes her job is to make sure that Gates, Chertoff, and whoever is the Designated Spy of the day don't make off with her turf, budget, and personnel. On that view, she's almost holding her own, though Cheney seems to have some sort of superuser capabilities with respect to her job, and everyonce in awhile the Divine Thumb comes down on her and squishes all the accomplishment out.

#60 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 54

I don't think anyone has yet suggested that Condoleeza Rice is incompetent

Oh yes, plenty of us have, but fewer that I would explect. I think that's because there's a disconnect where people see "hard working" (which she clearly is) and "extremely intelligent" (which she clearly is), and in their heads, those two facts can't add up to "for some reason is completely bollixing this job up".

#61 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 07:47 PM:

I can't say that I've seen her working hard. It may be that her absolute lack of effect is the reason, but mostly I hear of her heading someplace to do something which I know, in advance, will fail.

Part of that is the aims/goals of this administration (having her set up a "peace summit" in the Middle East, after the way this administration has been acting in that part of the world [and Iraq isn't the aspect which comes first to my mind, but rather Lebanon] seemed fruitless from the get-go) are so bad, and out of tune with the rest of the world. Part of it is that the administration is blatantly hypocritical (as when it bleats about other's abusing prisoners and practicing torture).

Added to that is the lack of insight she's shown in either of her jobs. If she was working hard as the National Security Advisor, it sure as hell wasn't on matters of National Security.

Is she smart? I don't know. People tell me she is. Her record indicates she's not dim, but honestly, I can't stand to hear her speak, half the time, I prefer the pronouncements of Bush, because either she is dumb as a post, or willing (as was her predecessor) to sell her reputation down the river spouting drivel in defense of the duplicity, stupidity, and cupidity of her boss.

#62 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 07:52 PM:

sherrold @60, Fragano @54 -- Ms. Rice is intelligent and hard-working, but doesn't know how to manage. At least, that's my understanding of her problems within her own department, in comparison to the leadership of Gen. Powell (who clearly learned how to lead well). This lack of leadership intelligence is rather like the emotional intelligence; if you don't have the natural talent for it, you must work hard to learn the principles and apply them, and I don't think she's done that. The end result is a department filled with people who resent her, don't agree with her, aren't buying in to her management, and in some cases may even be outright working against her. Just think how effective you can be when the secretaries and executive assistants are mad at you. Can you get even a refill on toner?

Being smart and hard-working isn't enough; she's got to lead effectively and manage a large bureaucracy through delegation of authority, and that's not easy even when you're trained to do that.

#63 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:18 PM:

Ginger #62:

Note that she had already managed, by some accounts, to alienate everyone at her former job, when she was provost at Stanford.

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:45 PM:

Bruce, #59: ...whoa. Remind me not to get on your bad side! I'm awed.

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:54 PM:

Bruce Cohen #59 & Sherrold #60: You're right. I was confusing intelligence and success at defending her turf with competence.

#66 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 09:13 PM:

I see a double-standard here. When we see men who serve at high levels in the George W. Bush administration, we assume that they're there because they believe in Bush, or because it helps their careers.

But when women serve at high levels in the Bush administration, we think it's because they're somehow inadequate as women. And if the woman is Condi Rice, we think it's because she's inadequate at an African-American too.

A few years ago, I read a Salon editorial which looked at Rice's relationship with Bush and determined that she had an unhealthy father-fixation on him, which was a regrettable failing of professional black women. To which I said, and say: Crap. White men can and often do idealize their mentors and look at them as paternal figures. Especially if the mentor is the President of the United States.

#67 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Mitch, when I see women working in high positions in the Bush administration, I think they're unprincipled moneygrubbing scumsucking lowlifes who deserve, if not jail time, to never see a public position of trust, or a penny of taxpayer money again, just like I think of the men.

#68 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 10:34 PM:


There...isn't any sign of Mr. Bush working professionally with the the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, the White House Counsel, and the Secretary of State? I do have to wonder what exactly you would consider evidence of a professional relationship as opposed to a sexual one. No, actually, I don't. I just have to assume that you are perpetuating the inaccurate, insulting, and tired - but easy to make - insinuation that a professional woman must be sleeping with her boss.

#69 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:56 AM:

Mitch Wagner: I don't see that, here (which is where you make the accusation). I do see it in the society at large, but it's not unique to how we see this administration. It's a cultural problem, getting better, but far from cured.

#70 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 04:46 AM:

I don't know that I've read anything here as accusing any of the women who work in the White House as having a sexual relationship with W. I don't think that *HE* behaves professionally toward them. Not necessarily in a predatory sort of way, but that there are weird undertones in the way that he treats women (even women that he doesn't really work with, i.e. Merkel) that I would find creepy coming from my boss. Thus, I'm confused as to why women who apparently have some amount of talent/luck/intelligence to have gotten to where they are, are not slightly creeped out by the way he behaves.

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Eclaire @ 70, et al

I don't know that the women who work with Bush are not creeped out. If they are, I'm sure they repress the reaction and soldier on, knowing they're getting their piece of the power pie by following his party line and doing his bidding.

Colin Powell is a smart and well-educated man, and as well-trained in following orders as he must be, he knew that what he was doing on orders from Bush was act incompetently and dishonorably; we know this because he started to dispute the party line he was given before he finally left the administration. I'll give Rice as much credit for intelligence and education; note, however, that she's toed the line, and done and said things just as out of line as Powell did, neverthess she keeps on. That says to me that there is something she's getting from the job that means more to her than the ignominy of being the meatpuppet of a man who clearly does not think well of her gender. Beyond all that, she must be getting something that repays her for the tsuris she gets from Cheney. Now that's hard for me, personally, to understand; I react very viscerally to that man; you'd have to pay me a lot not to beat him up and dance on the unconscious body.

#72 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Medievalist (#19): "maybe they have an arrangement by which sexual fidelity isn't necessary" -- I'm pretty sure that I remember an interview a long time ago (maybe even before Bill was elected president) in which they said so. Oh, in coded language, to be sure, but plain as plain could be to people who were familiar with the life style.

#73 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 12:33 PM:


You miss the point. Laura is not Hillary. She would cut George's balls off if he messed around. These women are obviously infatuated with George. They all seem to be arrested at about the emotional level of a 13 year old girl waiting for the cool guy in class to notice them. Why are these late middle age women stuck at this emotional level? They all have had enough exposure to the world and have acquired enough skills to be attractive to some reasonably competent man. If George were single we could believe that they were each hoping to be the lucky one to catch him but he is taken.

As for working with George. George doesn't work. When he was governor here in Texas he had reached his ideal position. The governor doesn't have any real power and he was free to come in at 9:00 and leave at 3:00. He has never accomplished anything by his own effort. This is why George is so enamoured of going with his gut. He has no skills to draw on. How many times has he told us what a hard job he has? Can you imagine Bill or Hillary whining about what a tough job it is?

#74 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Stuart @ 73: That's what I was saying: Shrub has never had to work. All his life, he's gotten away with minimal effort and someone else to clean up after him (and Daddy to bail him out when he flunks). McCain is also a scion of power, albeit a military version; getting through the Naval Academy isn't going to happen because Daddy and Grand-Daddy want it. On the Democratic side, everyone has worked hard to get to this point in life. That's why they don't whine about hard work: they're used to working hard.

Shrub reminds me of my 12-year old son who doesn't want to do his homework and resents having to do repetitive classwork, and just wants to have the good grades. (Yet this child will play video games for hours if we let him...). Perhaps the over-achieving women around him are enabling this president instead of making him work harder.

#75 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Stuart @ 73 and Ginger @74: I'm with you. I'd also add that Shrub has failed at every executive position he's been given (including this one) - at least in terms of leaving whatever it was he was executive of in at least as good a position as he found it.

I find it ... interesting that Bill Clinton is the epitome of poor-boy-makes-good, which (I think) is supposed to be what the Rs admire, but also seems to be part of what makes them gibber.

Tangentially related, I heard, during the 2004 election, that about 95% of librarians were against GWB. I always figured the remaining small percentage were mostly of the "he's married to one of us, so he must be OK school. Also, much as it pains me to admit it, there are librarians out there who are not the brightest crayons in the box.

#76 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 03:47 PM:

I find it ... interesting that Bill Clinton is the epitome of poor-boy-makes-good, which (I think) is supposed to be what the Rs admire, but also seems to be part of what makes them gibber.

Their problem with him is that he doesn't adopt the smug superiority that "I made good, so everyone else should do so, too." Instead, he turned his attentions to trying to make a world where others might actually be able to make good, without necessarily having his advantages of being born white, male, and having a better-than-average brain.

"Poor-boy-makes-good" stories are often inherently conservative or reactionary, told by people who want to justify the world as it is by showing an example of someone who had atypical luck as really being an example of equal opportunity.

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Ursula, #76: Yes, like this one. Trumpeting how this young, college-educated white man managed to parlay $25 and a duffel bag full of clothing into an apartment, a vehicle, and a savings account in just 10 months! -- without making use of his connections or his education.

As I said in a comment to the person who posted that link... okay, he had $25 and a duffel bag. What he didn't have:
- Black or olive skin
- Tits
- Kids
- Grey hair
- 300 pounds
- Non-standard speech patterns or an accent
- Mental illness
- Physical disability or limitation
- A prison record
- The body language that goes with growing up underprivileged, and the whole set of related expectations about how the world works
- The desperation that goes with knowing that your life depends on you getting enough money to eat this week, and next, and the one after that, and...

He may have chosen not to call on his social connections or mention his education, but he can't hide the attributes of privilege -- his race, his gender, his youth and health, his speech patterns and body language. (Note: I'm not saying that this couldn't be done, only that I don't think some kid doing it for a lark is likely to have done that thorough a job of studying for the role.) And he even had a credit card in the event of truly dire emergency, a privilege not even remotely available to the kind of person he was pretending to be.

And yet, listen to him prate about how it's all in the "attitudes" you bring to it, that he doesn't think it would be that much different if he'd had kids to care for or child support to pay. They even make an explicit comparison to Nickled and Dimed, while proceeding to COMPLETELY MISS THE POINT.


#78 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Yes, good, long-lasting relationships are complex, and may look weird from outside.

Patrick and Teresa, I wonder why so many people seem to feel called on to comment on/describe your marriage to you. Or maybe the anomaly is that people don't describe mine to me--two data points are not sufficient to know which reaction is more common.

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