Bill Clinton is alive and well in his familiar persona as a pathological liar. Bill goes to Iowa and tells a group of Democrats that even if Hillary was not his wife, he would be there to campaign for her to be president - which is to say, he looked Iowans dead in the eye and lied to them. Bill maintains that he always opposed the Iraq War - which is to say, he pretends historical records do not exist, so he lies to us. Bill informs us that he wants his presidential archives released, but that somehow George Bush is at fault - which is to say, Bill lies again.
When Bill Clinton lies, his mendacity is not nuanced or weighted anymore. He tells us whoppers. He talks to us like a five year old boy talks to prying parents. He speaks as if he expects people to believe him, even when any sane person would know that he was lying.
Hillary is much the same. She who would be president lies without the slightest notice. During her marriage to Bill, Hillary has become so immersed in lying in every form - infidelity, political lies, and personal lies - that it has become second nature to her as well. Two lawyers who have sold their souls to political expediency in a faithless marriage represent the quintessence of dishonesty.
So one might expect bumper stickers proclaiming "Clinton lied, people died." But, of course, nothing of the sort has happened. When Bill Clinton was caught lying about his non-sexual sex with Monica Lewinsky (about the time he asked under oath what the definition of "is" is), the nation faced a serious threat from al-Qaeda. This time, because he needed a massive distraction from Monica, Clinton sent cruise missiles into an aspirin factory in Sudan. The very real danger of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, which would three years later plunge the world into a fifth world war, was drowned in the lies and shiftiness of the most dishonest president in American history.
Clinton lied, and people have been dying around the world ever since. Our chance to capture bin Laden, the opportunity to build a bipartisan coalition against Islamic terrorism, the hope of avoiding a war that will not end in our lifetime - all these openings to a safer, better future for the world were sacrificed upon the altar of the Clintons' private ambition. But make no mistake: Clinton lied and people have died.
Yet the bumper sticker that should have indicted our former president and his wife became, instead, the risible "Bush lied, people died." Why? Although Bush-haters are loath to ever admit it, there is a Bush bumper sticker because we expect moral perfection from President Bush. To a remarkable degree, we get that moral perfection from President Bush. Consider, as a signal example, that despite unimaginable pressure and merciless abuse, the former alcoholic George Bush has not hit the bottle. Does anyone, except Mrs. Bush, know just what sort of moral fiber our president has to stay sober during these long years of hatred and madness? Whatever one thinks of his policies, President Bush has incredible moral fortitude drawn from faith in God and a good marriage.
We expect President Bush to be completely honest always about everything, which is to say that we expect the same extraordinary ethical power that America had with President Washington, President Reagan and President Theodore Roosevelt. We have set a very high standard for an imperfect leader who often makes mistakes. We wrongly attribute his policy failures to moral failures.
That is not something that we do with Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton. We recast their phoniness into cleverness, their vanity into ability, their ruthlessness into courage, and their ambition into wisdom. In our hearts, we expect the Clintons to be crass, bullying liars. So, while it is perfectly thinkable to have a bumper sticker that proclaims "Bush lied, people died," it is perfectly unthinkable to have a bumper sticker that states the truism "Clinton lied, people died." No, because all of us know when Bill or Hillary are lying (it is when their lips are moving). The only bumper sticker that makes sense of the hypnotic spell that Bill and Hillary have cast upon the American people would be this: Clinton lied, people yawned.