Where Did ‘We’ Go?
Let's sum this:
Politics has always been a dangerous game, and seeking political office is never for the thin skinned.
Legitimacy? Every president in my 53-year-long life has been legitimate, since the bar to entry is set pretty low - age and citizenship - and the Electoral College system is badly in need of revision.
Nixon? An angry, bitter man who wasn't a bad president but got no love when he was caught associating with common criminals, and he deserved what he got.
Ford? Probably a decent man, but when the criminal steps aside for you, and then you pardon him, you probably do not deserve re-election.
Carter? Still paying for the mistakes of his predecessors, and you know it.
Reagan? Held aloft as a muscled, tanned God above God by Republicans...he was reviled in his time yet legitimate evil stuff like Iran-Contra slid off his hide as if it were...teflon. I have in my posession a souvenier of the times which molds Reagan's head into a, well I won't say but it is not complementary. If rational, thinking humans don't finally see how his presidency, legitimate or not, led to today's ecomonic situation, I see little hope for this great experiment we call the United States. But even with a massive US and global opposition to his policies, he achieved re-election and got his VP, a wealthy WWII vet who had a couple of kids, elected to replace him.
When GHWB's presidency, again legitimate, floundered, things were ripe for, what's the word, change. The Republican politicians, already drooling over the prospect of a permanant Republican majority and an inflation of Executive powers heretofore unimagined, fueled by their bitter rage that Nixon was screwed simply because he was caught, were complacent, and saw Bill Clinton get elected.
The Republican overseers whipped their minions into a froth, and within a few years for the first time legitimized and institutionalized into our lawmaking process the means to slur and slander a president, with the end simply being a few more seats in congress. Led by a man named Newt, they publicly took every opportunity to obstruct any good work this legitimately elected administration wanted to pass, hogtying them to Don't Ask Don't Tell, shamefully defeating healthcare reform which would have transformed our country to one where we showed the world that we respect and love our people, instead of the one where the world sees that we let corporations steer our polititians to do whatever it takes to gain political power, instead of doing what's right.
Nothing short of convicting President Clinton of murdering Vince Foster with his bare hands on the steps of the White House would have satisfied these goons. Instead, we had taxpayer-robbing investigations that led nowhere, and a president who was not convicted of anything, even though articles of impeachment were passed. Every move this president made especially in his second term was open for labeling by an evil Republican machine and complicit media. When middle eastern terrorists were showing their intent to harm us, for example, every move by the President was called not-enough, Wag-the-dog, etc., - the very same acts that if the demigod Reagan had done them, they would have been held up as a shining example of strategic brilliance and our American superiority. Gingrich, the blood of 9/11 victims is on your hands for establishing a system where you can discredit an American presidency simply to elect more Republicans, hampering an existing president's ability to lead in the process.
GWB? Legitimately elected, but not by a majority of us. Put in office essentially by an activist Supreme Court, no wonder his actions were questioned. Even most in the US who didn't vote for him rallied around after 9/11, and GWB simply blew it going into Iraq, wanting to turn Social Security over to Wall Street, etc. Comparisons to Nazis were wrong, but in our quiet, sane, moments, we can see how a Bush steamrolling over Iraq might be held up on a banner by some as being like a Hitler steamrolling over Poland.
Yet, the Republicans, continue to argue that GWB was a legitimate - and infathomably, good - president, and that Obama is not. this is where Friedman is right, that against sanity itself, these Republicans continue to argue these things, and yes, it would be supremely ironic if GWB were to be considered in history books to be a legitimate president, and Obama not.
Friedman's point, obviously that idiot Grover Norquist in Politico's Arena never actually read it, is right, that percieved legitimacy can be very different from actuality, and that legitimacy can be used by nasty people to stir others to very nasty action, is right.