On his radio show Thursday, Rush Limbaugh relayed a story of how he met former President Bill Clinton while dining in New York Wednesday evening. Rush remarked how the conversation was pleasant to the point where there was even a light hearted moment regarding Clinton’s choice of cuisine (Mr. Clinton had a well earned reputation of not being the healthiest of eaters, hence his 2004 heart attack).
He said, (Clinton impression) "I had chicken. I had fish. That's what we had."
I said, "Well, you were good. You were good."
"You gotta be good, man, gotta be good."
So I said, "Nice to meet you," got back in a car, and drove off.
It is no secret that during the Clinton presidency, Rush was definitely the most outspoken critic of that administration. In fact, many surmise that Limbaugh’s greatest success emerged after 1992 when Clinton was elected. With Clinton’s narcissism, penchant for womanizing and taxing anything that moved, Rush had an endless array of material. Limbaugh definitely revolutionized the entertainment aspect of political commentary.
So when Rush conveyed the fact that he and Clinton had a nice chat, members of his audience e-mailed or called his show to express their dismay. It was as if they expected Rush to launch a verbal assault against the man who drew the ire of many conservatives in the 90s.
There’s no doubt that we live in a divided country, now more than ever. But is the political discourse so over the top that it’s perceived as a sin when we’re cordial to someone who’s our political opposite? As I’ve said before, I don’t look at people on the left as my enemies. I think they’re fundamentally wrong about how they believe this country should be governed but I certainly don’t look at it as a character flaw.
Unfortunately, many opponents of President George W. Bush don’t see things that way.
One classic example occurred last November at a gathering where the President welcomed newly elected congressmen. Democrat James Webb had just been elected Senator of Virginia, having defeated incumbent George Allen. The President, ever an affable host, asked Webb how is son was doing.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
Despite the fact that Webb was only Senator-elect at the time, he couldn’t table the anti-war rhetoric for just one night. Come January 2007 there would have been plenty of opportunity on the Senate floor for Webb to air his displeasure over the Iraqi conflict. However, that incident was just a microcosm for the lack of decorum shown towards the office of the President these days.
I guess it’s not surprising when you consider that a certain President in the late 90s decided to treat the White House as Frat house.