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28th February 1999

Clinton – bills to pay

By Mervyn de Silva

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So he's already the "Comeback Kid". That's his new "MONI (C) ker American slang for "name" says my Oxford dictionary, ... American slang (18th Century).

So here's a hearty welcome back from this columnist. He's a nice guy who deserves his eight-year term, two terms, and that's all according to the American Constitution.

The vicious campaign of the Grand Old Party (GOP) the Republican fat-cats didn't really work, did it?

The only disappointment in all agency copy (AP, UP) was the absence of a comment from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, professor and politician, the author of Pandaemonium senior Senator from New York, former professor of government at Harvard, Ambassador to India, and to the United Nations, (UN) and President of the Security Council.

The Clinton episode would surely claim a new chapter... the revenge of the GOP fat-cats.

The Republicans

Pandaemonium is a brilliant study of what we now recognise as the global phenomenon of ethnic revival - race and religion, the tenacious force of "identity", rather than the clash of ideologies, the "isms" which produced what Walter Lippman the columnist called "the Cold War". Capitalism, private enterprise rather than "socialism" has won the great debate.

But in the lavish home of the super capitalists (Rockefeller is a code-word) Clinton, the Democrat slipped easily into the role of social welfarist. Speaking on healthcare at a rally in New Hampshire he said:

"I will never forget the meeting I had in a senior centre where the couple who told me they missed a lot of meals every week so they could pay their medical bills...".

His message was a thinly veiled assault on his Republican rivals who hope to satisfy the middle and upper-middle classes with tax-cuts.

Mr. Clinton pledged to extend state healthcare schemes to disabled workers.

And he spoke of "Bill of Rights for patients. A British correspondent was quick to point out that the Clinton program ('new program') may have found inspiration from the "new" Labour Party thinking of the "new generation", party leadership.

The GOP platform "ideologues" preferred to use foreign policy as the big stick. And who would supply them the best ammunition?

Who else but the Arab super villain, the thief of Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein.

"The Republicans were so determined to do their high-tech lynching that they engaged in a wacky role reversals". Many a GOP orator argued that President Clinton should not be bombing Saddam Hussein, claiming that the timing was suspicious, even though they had hammered him for NOT bombing five weeks ago. The writer, Maureen Dowd concluded sadly: "There's too much hate here".

Sri Lankans who may be conversant with Labour-Tory electioneering tactics, will surely be surprised by the mud-slinging and platform tricks of the GOP orators.

And yet, some traditional voting blocs were also quite disillusioned by the "new" Clinton.

The editor of a trade union newspaper expressed his disenchantment with the briefest of brief comments: "A Presidential visit to New Hampshire used to be cause for celebration… something to bring your children so that they could say one day to their grandchildren.... Not anymore... not today, not with this man". The editorial was headlined. Don't come back, kid. But he will, Don't be surprised.

Is there a new wave of anti-intellectualism and self-satisfaction in a post-cold war America, an America that watches the old superpower the Soviet Union torn by dis-union and growing poverty? Have the New Dealers become car-dealers, Adlai Stevenson's bon mot as Richard Hofstadster observed in his collection of essays on "anti intellectualism in American Life?"

But we should not ignore America's new rivals... not poor, ailing Boris Yeltsin's Russia nor China.... China can wait though. The new challenger is Japan and the European Union.

Yes, the Soviet Union was exposed as a myth. How united is the United States? Yes, what of "the melting pot"?

P.A.N.D.E. monium......

China can wait since the Chinese have their own sense of time....

Swiftly the years.

Beyond recall

Solemn the stillness

Of this morning.

Civilisation? What of India?

Hulftsdorp Hill

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