The Incredible Shrinking ex-President
The Clinton-Bush Toronto snore fest of a few days ago was as revealing as it was reported to be dull. For one thing, the event proved that Calgary isn’t the only Canadian community to be so crass and insensitive that it would welcome a putative war criminal to speak to its citizens for hundreds of dollars a pop each. Nor was it the only city to reward him with guffaws at his ghost written jokes and a standing ovation after listening to his nonsense.
Predictably, Calgary has been joined by its big bucks, greed is good, sister Canadian community – namely, Bay Street. Hell, the Bay Street pin-striped brigade turned out a crowd of 6000 to hear these two clowns. Calgary couldn’t hold a candle to that. However, the cowtown is still well up there in the crass department. By my last count, it has welcomed no less than three of the Bush outlaws to regale its corporate citizens about shock and awe, the war against terror, and other shibboleths of that sorry administration. Karl Rove, then Bush, and more recently Condi Rice have graced Dallas North – at prices ranging from $400 bucks a head (Bush and Rove) to Condi (the most expensive at $500). Hogtown – a label better applied to Bay Street than the rest of the great city of Toronto – have only had two – Rove and Bush, with Rove generating $700 a head. Bush and Clinton in TO again made Calgary look like pikers, getting up to $2500 a ticket.
As might be expected for a man whose classy speeches were a staple of derision on the David Letterman show over the past year, Bush’s repertoire of jokes at the affair included two that dealt with animal fecal matter, and another apparently cribbed from the tired joke file of the disgraced Brian Mulroney. Nonetheless, the crowd chuckled and guffawed and at the end of the day, the two sorry comedians left the city like a couple of absconding pool sharks, a few hundred grand to the good.
Apart from the corporate big wigs and their minions shelling out the big bucks to hear Bush and groveling to him with chuckles and ovations, the big story of the day was that neither Clinton nor Bush knew anything about the new U.S. requirement of Passports for all Canadians going into the States. Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. Bush appointed an Ambassador to Canada whose previous Canadian experience was limited to one previous trip to Niagara Falls and who knew sweet tweet about the country. Clinton’s wife thought that some of the 9/11 terrorists had made their way into the United States from Canada, as did Janet Napolitano, Obama’s new Homeland Security Czar. By the way, Napolitano’s only venture into Canada until now was to see polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. And people like Jack Granatstein believe that we are anti-American when we get fed up with some of this stuff!
All of which is interesting in a sick sort of way. But what really sticks out in my mind is how far Bill Clinton has fallen. I liked Bill Clinton from the moment he arrived on the political scene. He was thoughtful, smart, and could give a speech like no President before him in my memory. I thought his dalliances were reckless but certainly not impeachable, and the resulting attacks on him were launched largely by right wing Republicans most of which lived in glass houses. I thought he was a good President and was saddened when he stepped down from the Presidency. I even paid to hear him speak once.
But what the hell is he doing traipsing around the world at events such as this where he shares the spotlight with such a twit? With a man who sanctioned torture, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, lied to and divided the American people, pushed the United States into becoming a pariah state, let New Orleans flow into the Gulf of Mexico, did nothing while the economy went to hell, and rewarded greed like no President before him? I guess he does it for the money. And in the process he diminishes himself daily. Indeed, the Toronto Star thought Bush was the more entertaining of the two. See: http://www.thestar.com/news/columnist/article/642978
I think its time Bill Clinton gave it a rest. He had his turn at the plate. If he wants to make some big bread by giving speeches, he hardly needs to do it with riff-raff like George W. Bush at his side. And there is certainly no reason why he should be interested in salvaging Bush’s legacy or reputation. Better he give more help to Barack Obama who is saddled with the responsibility of cleaning up Bush’s mess.