More than anyone in ages, Bill Clinton seems to provoke a visceral dislike in people far out of proportion to any failings or offenses he has committed. There are several reasons for this. Firstly he is Southern, who many Northerners still believe are stupid, slow, and ridiculous. Confronted with someone as smart and talented as Clinton, Northerner’s prejudices harden into deep resentment because they are too deeply rooted to overcome. In fact, the last President to be so despised (unfairly) was Carter (the last Southern President), a brilliant nuclear submarine officer, .. and Johnson didn’t have an easy time at first. Northerners simply don’t understand Southern culture. My brother said "Ever since he claimed "I didn’t inhale", I just think he’s a jerk." But that’s how Southerners are- they’ll say things with an imbedded wink that everyone understands means "We’re all in this together and let he who is without sin throw the first stone." If he had admitted he had smoked marijuana, the moralists would have gone ballistic: "What an example for our children!", and Clinton would have been unable to enact any drug control measures.
Clinton’s astounding ability to communicate: read long speeches perfectly without notes, many apparently written by him, and plug right in to the collective emotions of the body politic; is another rankling factor, provoking ravenous envy and hatred from enemies + even allies. He is arguably the best pure politician of the 20th Century, and respected and admired around the world-- which is why this impeachment outrage is so damaging to American prestige: this is dangerously unpredictable and self-destructive behavior to foreign leaders. How can we be trusted if we eviscerate the most talented leader we’ve had since Kennedy or Roosevelt? Clinton compounded these feelings by appropriating, in the most purely political way, Republican proposals and making them his. Now he was also a thief and a fraud to Republican Haters, whose resentment now deepened to serious hatred.
The regional prejudice has swung both ways: to Southerners, who are naturally conservative, a liberal activist like Clinton is anathema, a betrayer of Southern principles and standards. And standards were publicly flayed, from promoting gays in the military to aggressively championing abortion rights to avoiding military service to the appointment of unprecedented numbers of women and minorities. To old-line Southerners of wealth and privilege (most Republicans) Clinton was one of THEM, a long-haired rebel who wanted to destroy everything they held dear (like no health care or welfare). As a definitive part of the intimate media generation, Clinton made himself enormously approachable and vulnerable, playing the saxophone on talk shows, describing his underwear, and connecting to the voters in ways no politician ever had.
Clinton has also suffered from a new and frightening apparition in America’s political landscape: private hate groups, funded by millions from right-wing individuals or foundations, mascarading as think tanks or magazines. Clinton was targeted from the beginning by these groups, which had already been so accepted into the media firmament that their origins and objectives were never examined- and their propaganda was echoed by all legitimate media. Spending some $12 million to directly or indirectly dig up dirt on Clinton, these forces, in a backroom deal, managed to appoint one of their own- Ken Starr, to replace the first special prosecutor, who wasn’t a true believer. In league with the Jone’s lawyers and backed by astounding Court decisions, they spun a web so dense that no one could’ve avoided it. But avoid it Clinton did, so they had to turn to criminalizing private consensual sex, a chilling and poisonous precedent. The private extremists were aided and abetted by a Republican Party that has become so right wing that the liberal Republicans are now equivalent to the most conservative ones in Nixon’s era (the Senate rates only 9 out of 100 on the ADA scale where 100 is Ted Kennedy + 0 is Hitler or Jesse Helms). This extremism and virulence is so at odds with American society that, after spending the last year forcing this absurd impeachment down the publics’ throat, the Republican Party may have lost the Congress for the next 10 years.
Lastly, the continued drumbeat of irresponsible right-wing demagogues, like Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Gordon Liddy, ad infinitum, have created a fringe culture of pathological Clinton haters who despise Clinton with an almost sexual intensity. In any previous time, many of these people would be ostracized by society or even committed, but the X-files has created a huge mass of people who will believe anything about government leaders. Indeed, one pet theory of this lunatic fringe is a list of 50-60 people Clinton is supposed to have had killed. This includes sailors on aircraft carriers who escorted Clinton for 20 minutes, then died in a helicopter crash 6 months later. The anti-Clinton fringe are so obsessive and limited that they are best described by one word: Haters, because there is little else to their character. Sadly for America, many Republicans in Congress also fit that bill.