Breaking up is hard to do...
January 18, 2001 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Breaking up is hard to do... Bill Clinton tells a nation, "It's not you,'s me." Actually, I noticed a few things about his farewell speech, and I thought I would - what else? - comment on it. Inside...
posted by solistrato (22 comments total)
My thoughts:

- Clinton looked not so much like himself as much as Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton.

- I never really understood his appeal as a personality until I compared him with both Gore and Bush. They're both nittering charisma-free mannequins compared to him.

- Certain presidents seem to embody the zeitgeist of their times - or play off it in complementary ways. Clinton seemed to embody both the best and worst of the 1990s in a way that few presidents have.

- His three hopes for the future. Or, as they might be known as, "three things I'd love to bitchslap W. with."

- He looked quite bummed that he won't be sitting behind the big desk no more. They're gonna hafta pry him out of there.

I'll miss him, and I won't.
posted by solistrato at 8:07 PM on January 18, 2001

Hypertext Webster Gateway Error: No definition found for "nittering"
posted by quonsar at 8:11 PM on January 18, 2001

I too, will miss the old goat. Even though I despise him for all he's done to destroy the American political system, for how he's pushed the Constitution well past its limits in many ways to achieve what he wanted quasi-legally, for his politics themselves ... and even though I despise him for his personal activities - not just the screwing around, but also the years of figuratively screwing the people around and under him in order to increase his own power and control ... I still think he'd be a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with. Play some golf, drink a lot, make fun of the female Congresswomen with fat asses, etc.

Of course, now that he won't be P anymore, I guess I'll have a much better chance of getting to do that someday! (Yeah, right. But I can dream.)

One other thought...

Quote from a thread yesterday:

"[Bush's] 12-minute-tops inauguration speech is just one of many signs that the guy is an extremely limited politician."

Length of tonight's Clinton farewell speech: 7 minutes.

You make the call.

posted by aaron at 8:23 PM on January 18, 2001

An easy call: Bush's limited skills as a politician (compared to Clinton) don't have anything to do with the length of either man's speeches. Next question?
posted by allaboutgeorge at 8:34 PM on January 18, 2001

What struck me most about his farewell address was it's relative simplicity. Am I the only one sick of speeches geard to a 6th grade reading level?

I imagine things will only get worse in the era of Dubya.
posted by aladfar at 9:01 PM on January 18, 2001

Um . . . I meant "geared toward" a 6th grade reading level. I'm just too damn proud to use that spell check button.

Indeed, I have shamed both myself and my family . . .
posted by aladfar at 9:04 PM on January 18, 2001

Something tells me we haven't seen the last of Bill C. I see him doing a late night talk show on Fox. After the dust settles.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2001

Is "nittering" related to "nattering," as in the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism?
posted by norm at 9:28 PM on January 18, 2001

Am I the only one sick of speeches geared to a 6th grade reading level?

No, you're not. But unfortunately, we live in an age where the sheep-at-large can't handle anything more than sound bites before tuning out or, worse, deciding that said speaker is "acting snobby, usin' all them BIG words like he's bettern us!" and gaining a negative opinion of said politician. It's going to be a while until we see JFK-style oratory again. Unless we elect Sen. Byrd president. By the end of that term, we'd all have PhD-level knowledge of Greek literature and be able to name every Speaker of the House in chronological order, going all the way back to 1788.
posted by aaron at 9:53 PM on January 18, 2001

Indeed, I have shamed both myself and my family . . .

The sons of your sons shall pay tenfold!
posted by aaron at 9:54 PM on January 18, 2001

In my view, Clinton can afford to use a mere 7 minutes saying "wow, America's in pretty good shape compared to 1992, huh?"

On the other hand, Bush is going to need a good deal more than 12 minutes to explain why in god's name he's going to try to radically change things.
posted by jragon at 9:57 PM on January 18, 2001

It's pretty easy to say things are in good shape when you're in control of saying just what constitutes "good shapedness."

Especially when you get to ride off into the sunset precisely as the economy is falling into the toilet.
posted by aaron at 10:08 PM on January 18, 2001

<flippant post>

Yeah, America sure is bad off! It's not like we've amassed more wealth than any other civilization in earth's history! I hope Bush can straighten everything out!

</ flippant post>
posted by Neb at 11:28 PM on January 18, 2001

Regarding Nattering Nabobs etc.: William Safire was the speech writer who put those words in Agnews mouth. For the record.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:18 AM on January 19, 2001

aaron: I think Clinton kept it short and sweet to avoid any accusation of trying to overshadow the inauguration with a litany of "achievements". (And yeah, he also has the tendency to go on a bit.) That said, his three-point plan made it pretty clear what he wants Bush to do once the reality of office takes over.

One silly little thought. How soon do you think the new President gets to ask: "Well, are there aliens?" I know that Tony Blair said in an interview at the end of 1997 that as soon as he moved into Number 10, he was made aware of "lots of things" that he didn't have a clue about as Leader of the Opposition.
posted by holgate at 3:27 AM on January 19, 2001

And I think we all regret the dumbing-down of politics. Ironically, I think it's probably a consequence of mass access to the mechanisms of democracy: it's hard to make a great three-hour speech if you're trying to get ten seconds on the nightly news.

(Castro is one of the few pols who can still get away with it, partly because Cuban TV has to show all three hours live. But it'd be interesting to do psychological tests on Cuban teenagers re: attention span.)
posted by holgate at 3:32 AM on January 19, 2001

Neb: Is the wealth that we have amassed everything? Will it help us out when we can no longer live anywhere in the US due to the toxicity? Not that I think Dubya is going to help any.
posted by bytecode at 4:59 AM on January 19, 2001

I must have missed the part of the Constitution that grants the President any power over the economy, or spending for that matter.

Bill Clinton: right place, right time. At least he didn't do much to fuck it up. A thing I think he realized after the health care fiasco (which was more Hilliary than Bill).
posted by Mick at 5:51 AM on January 19, 2001

Aaron: An outgoing president doesn't have much call to hog the airwaves for very long in a primetime speech, so you can't compare an outaugural to an inaugural.

You missed the even-more-damning fact about my remark -- Clinton's first inaugural speech was only 14 minutes long, according to a story I read yesterday. So if Bush can plod vacantly through 12 I guess that's sufficient.
posted by rcade at 7:16 AM on January 19, 2001

You know, I don't really think a President should be obligated to make a long inaugural speech anyway. I mean, it's not like he has to lay out his plans; he did that while campaigning. About all he really has to say is "thanks for electing me." Don't know if I could do that for twelve minutes.
posted by kindall at 7:25 AM on January 19, 2001

bytecode: I should have made my comment clearer. I was responding directly to aaron's statement: Especially when you get to ride off into the sunset precisely as the economy is falling into the toilet.

posted by Neb at 10:19 AM on January 19, 2001

"It's the vision thing."

It's not how long the speech is. It's what he does with it. Lincoln's first inaugural address doesn't appear to be that long. Nor was Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you" speech. In fact, most of them are pretty damn succinct.

(In short, look at Bartleby's Inaugural Address pages, and compare Bush's speech with the 65 preceding ones. My only prediction: unlike George Washington's first address, it won't contain the word "vicissitudes" in its opening sentence.)
posted by holgate at 1:12 PM on January 19, 2001

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