A Clinton-loathingfriend of mine from New England is going gaga over George W. Bush, even though-orperhaps because-she doesn't know the first thing about him. "Let's getrid of the hicks!" she says. "Bring back the ruling class!" Onedoesn't know quite how to break it to her, but as population and power movesouthward and westward, the hicks and the ruling class are getting harder andharder to tell apart. Both the Clintons and Bushes are pretty good examplesof this new blueblood-redneck alliance. That HillaryClinton is a model of our rube ruling class became apparent when the NewYork Post revealed that she had gone house-shopping last week and fallenin love with a new-ish 17-acre, $3.8 million property in Westchester. It has10,000 square feet, squash and tennis courts, an indoor pool and a place toland the helicopter. It's a measure of her yearning for the wide open spacesof Hick Heaven that Hillary is set on this latifundium. And its beside the pointthat she doesn't need it and certainly can't afford it, the high point of herearning career being the $100,000 bribe she got from cattle-futures trader Red Bone 20 years ago.
Get it?Hillary doesn't want to live in the city, close to the theater and restaurantsand bookstores. She doesn't like the wild, Northeastern landscapes of the Adirondacksor the pastoral life of upstate dairyland. No-she is looking for the way ofliving in New York that will be most like living in the nicer neighborhoodsof Dallas and Houston. The kind of place where people roll up your circulardrive in Jaguars, with their 10-gallon hats and their trophy wives, and say,"Ha, li'l lady! Ha yew? Whatta latta land yew gat!"
Hillary,an immigrant to the hick state of mind, has embraced it with a vengeance. NancyReagan may have bought new china for the White House, but you need chinain the White House. Hillary changed the White House even more radically by, first, banning smoking, and, second, commissioning a renovation from Kaki Hockersmith,one of the most celebrated interior decorators in all of Little Rock. The resultinggold-tassel-and-knotty-pine look was described by one of my snider and more stylish friends as "Dan'l Boone Revival." How anyone from Chicago'supper middle class could willingly adopt the culture of her husband's hog-farmingArkansas backers, with their five-month-old fortunes, will be a mystery to mostNew Yorkers. But that's just because they're from New York, and Hillary-as you'relikely to be reminded again-is not. They Deserve Each Other After aweek of watching the press dance around the totem pole at George W. Bush's fundraisingpotlatch, you almost had to feel sorry for the other Republican candidates.Almost. Last Tuesday, the Federal Election Commission released its second-quartercampaign-finance stats showing that in four months of "exploring"a run for president, W. had raised more money than the entire Chinese army hasearned in salaries since the 1949 revolution. He raised roughly twice what AlGore did, and Gore's take-in a Sammy Sosa-esque way-would have demolished theexisting fundraising records if Bush hadn't been around. But justwhen one was about to feel pity for the laggards, Liddy Dole went on the Todayshow to announce her candidacy. Or, rather, she announced that she was goingto announce her candidacy next fall. Since we already know she is running forpresident, this was above and beyond the call of workaday electioneering baloney.It was double electioneering baloney: summoning us to attention-twice-to tellus something we already know. Then, visiting New Hampshire that day, she soughtto explain why she was running for president in the first place. "We'reso blessed in this country," she said, "and this is a way to giveback."
Do you believethat? That she doesn't really want to be president but that she's doing it forus? It was a remark of such upchuck-inducing contempt for the intelligence ofher listeners that one was tempted to go back over her earlier speeches andtranslate them into what Mrs. Dole really meant. But I couldn't find them, soI contented myself with a similar translation of Lisa Myers' introduction onToday: "Elizabeth Dole," Myers began, "has been a quietpioneer for women since she was a girl growing up in Salisbury, North Carolina.An overachiever [bitch] who loved to talk [yenta], a beauty queen[ditz] who graduated with honors from Duke University [brownnose],a gracious Southerner [hick] who dared to fight her way [bitch, again]into Harvard Law School [snot] long before it was fashionable."
Sorry-that'swhere Myers lost me. When is this time she's thinking of when Harvard Law Schoolwas unfashionable? Patriot Games Patriotismwaxes and wanes, but one thing seems to remain constant in postwar America:the idea that there was some kind of Golden Age of Patriotism in the recentpast. Fox News Channel rolled out an old Fourth of July chestnut over the longweekend, asking its viewers whether they thought America was more or less patriotictoday than 25 years ago. Sixteen percent said more, 74 percent said less andsix percent said it was about the same. We're obviouslyin the presence of a poll whose main function is to show how mistaken or mendaciouspeople can be-like the ones showing that 85 percent of Americans consider themselvesabove-average drivers, or the ones taken the day after a 30-percent-turnoutelection in which 75 percent of the respondents claim to have voted. Because25 years ago, patriotism was at an historic ebb. It was a year after the Parisaccords that put an humiliating end to the Vietnam War and a year before theeven more humiliating evacuation of Saigon.
The attitudetoward the flag was indicative: People used to patch their jeans and old furniturewith it, blow their noses in flag handkerchiefs, and you'd see it set on fireeverywhere. I remember watching on tv as Cubs centerfielder Rick Monday snatchedup a flag that two protesters were trying to burn on the warning track. Forone news cycle, Monday was a national hero, and precisely because, at the time,people thought rescuing the flag a weird thing to bother to do. It was kindof archaic, chivalric and show-offy, more typical of the Golden Age of AmericanPatriotism, which people described as having been?oh, say, 25 years before then. Kosovo Corner America,of course, is considerably more patriotic than it was 25 years ago. It is evengetting a bit too patriotic for my tastes-that is, if patriotism is toblame for the wholesale lack of skepticism about Bill Clinton's wilding spreein Kosovo. Through a sneaky elision, the President has laid claim to use theAmerican military machine while holding himself accountable only to "humanity"-ameaningless constituency. He has set a very dangerous precedent. The Presidentnever made it clear in whose name he was destroying Serbia: in America's orhumanity's. If America's, then the President should have been upfront abouthis mission civilisatrice in Southeastern Europe, and admitted that weare embarked on a long-term imperial role there. This, however, would have leftthe President accountable to Congress. But the President clearly believes heis not accountable to the American public, since Congress refused tosupport his war and the President kept on bombing.
To whom,then, is he accountable? The President claims to act in the service of a newconstituency-"humanity." But since humanity isn't really a constituency,the President isn't really accountable to anyone. Unless we take "humanity"to mean "the international community." In that case, (a) exhortationsthat we support "our" troops and "our" President are littlemore than hypocritical bullying. If it's Humanity's air force that's bombingKosovo and not ours, then our obligation to support the President's silly projectis no more and no less than that of any Bangladeshi or Ghanaian. And (b) Americanattempts to laugh away war-crimes charges against the President and his advisersbecome intellectually groundless. If it is truly the "international community"that gave moral sanction to our war, then that community's tribunals have standingto decide whether our war was conducted decently or criminally.
But whoa!whoa! At that point, the President skulks back to his position as leaderof America, not Humanity. Dissent from "supporting our troops" iscaricatured as unpatriotic; and the idea of trying an American president forwar crimes is offered up to the traditionally contemptuous judgment the Americanpeople have for international organizations and tribunals. In effect, the Presidentis hiding behind the principle of sovereign immunity no less brazenly than Gen.Pinochet. Or Slobodan Milosevic, for that matter.
The opportunitiesfor hypocrisy and double-dealing are limitless. Take the huge protests in theSerbian town of Cacak last week. Afterward, Secretary of Defense William Cohenannounced, "I suspect there is going to be a level of criticism that will continue to escalate." That's a nudge-nudge, wink-wink reference to theCIA project to destabilize Milosevic that was uncovered by the WashingtonTimes last week. Two thoughts: First, that's a heck of a "dictatorship"that allows 10,000 anti-regime protesters to assemble on a weekday afternoon.Second, how are we serving our stated goal of "stability" in Europeby using the CIA to topple a democratically elected government? (You don't hearmuch about democracy from the Saviors of Humanity anymore, the way you usedto back when we were bringing the democratically elected psychopath Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to power in Haiti.) If Milosevic is such a genocidal monster thatit was worth killing thousands of civilians to break his hold on Kosovo, thenwhy is that conscienceless wonder Jamie Rubin now wandering the Balkans likesome kind of Henry Cabot Lodge de nos jours-and warning the governmentof Montenegro that they must not break away from Milosevic's Serbia?
Or takethe Chinese embassy bombing, an American solo effort in which the NATO alliesplayed no part, and for which the United States has not yet given a satisfactoryexplanation. (The Chinese embassy was built on an empty lot, and the "old CIA maps" that allegedly made our bombers think there was a strategic buildingon the site show no building at all there.) The New York Timesreports that two of the "journalists" killed inside the embassy wereactually spies, and later reports claim the two were helping the Serbians anticipateNATO air attacks. Kosovo triumphalists crow that we've called China's bluff.They shouldn't. True, it looks like Clinton the President of Humanity actuallyhelped "Humankind" by killing those Chinese technicians. But it alsolooks like Clinton the President of the United States of America has been caughtin a very big lie for which we will likely pay a very big price.