23 Mar 2000


The First Nietzschean President

The people at Everyone's Internet were updating the webservers today, and some pages were down for a period of time.  Now they're back up and at full speed.

Over the next few days, I will finish Section One of Chapter Three of the dissertation.   This is good news.  Slowly but surely....

I saw a bit of the Chris Matthews program Hardball earlier.  Matthews was interviewing Paul Begala, a onetime advisor and confidante to President Bill Clinton and author of a new book (I forget the title).  Apparently, Begala rags on the "woodstock" generation and attempts to establish what an unfortunate lot they are (this presumably would include our President).  In the interview, he identified the root cause OF THAT GENERATION'S PROBLEMS AS SELFISHNESS! 

Mr. Begala is correct in thinking there is a growing moral problem in the country, though it is not confined to the Woodstock generation.  And Mr. Begala -- and the Prince, Bill Clinton -- are as much representative of this problem as any example one could give.  The problem?  Moral relativism, nihilism, will to power -- take your pick of those terms.  Bill Clinton is a particularly good example.  Whereas during the founding era, through Lincoln, in Reagan, and even in the rhetoric of Kennedy -- politics was a means towards accomplishing some end, not an end in itself.  Bill Clinton represents the first Nietzschean President as the purpose is no longer to accomplish anything but the enhancement of personal and political power (and to engage in hedonism.)  Whitewater problem?  Lie.  Destroy documents.  Let Webster Hubbell and other "friends" take the fall for you.  But do whatever it takes to maintain power.  Extramarital affairs?  Lie.  Stretch the truth.   Obstruct justice.  Destroy evidence.  But do whatever it takes to maintain power. 

Indeed, Mr. Clinton has always been about enhancing power.  With Mr. Begala's help polling and operating focus groups and such, Mr. Clinton is almost always on "the right side of an issue" at any given point in time.  Never mind if those positions are inconsistent.  Contrast that with Lincoln, whose belief in natural right and the Declaration was unwavering (and, had he employed Mr. Begala, would have been abandoned early on!).  Contrast that with Reagan, whose belief in limited government and America's moral purpose cannot be questioned and cannot be attributed to focus groups, whatever quibbles his critics might have. 

Mr. Begala himself is part of the problem he is addressing, but is not philosophical enough to realize it.  The problem he is trying to identify is not "selfishness" properly understood, but hedonism, a departure from selfishness that results from a complete absence of moral standards to guide one's actions.  If the Woodstock Generation bought into anything, it bought into this -- NOT selfishness as understood by Ayn Rand!  Indeed, every time Mr. Begala worked an issue with a focus group to give it the right "spin" for the President to "sell" he was engaged in the same sort of enterprise.

I've never understood why anyone would take people like Begala, or Carville, or Mary Matalin, or any of these various political advisors seriously on anything but their own minor little area of expertise -- how to sell candidates to the voting masses.  I suppose this book will sell to the very Woodstock Generation people Begala is criticizing.   They deserve each other.

In looking back over this entry, I don't think it's one of my better efforts at clarifying issues.  The thrust is sound, the specifics could be better.  But this is not an essay writing effort -- simply my journal.  But this time the thoughts off the top of my head seem jumbled.  I do think, however, that a solid essay could be formulated with this title:  "Bill Clinton:  The First Nietzschean President." 

Oh well... time for a workout!

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  Copyright (c) 2000, Kevin L. Whited