WASHINGTON -- The stature and repute of our public figures are shaped, as I have written before, by this thing called Kultursmog . It is our political culture, a kultur utterly polluted by politics, left-liberal politics. For instance, it renders the Clintons, as reporter John F. Harris hymned in a recent hagiography, "the two most important political figures of their generation." It matters not that they are also the most scandal-prone couple in American history or that also numbered among the political figures of their generation is Newt Gingrich, the wizard behind the "Contract With America," which denied Democrats joint control of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time in 40 years. And forget not that President George W. Bush, who also is from their generation, won two presidential terms and, after 9/11 completely revised American strategic thinking, introduced pre-emption to replace whatever was left of containment. Then, too, the 43rd president has -- facts are facts -- led America through the third-longest period of economic growth since such records began being kept. Only Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have presided over longer periods of unbroken economic growth.
The way the Kultursmog glorifies its loved ones and spatters on its outcasts is done both by pumping out epithets and practicing neglect -- both benign neglect and malign neglect. It simply does not acknowledge its loved ones' failings (benign neglect) or its outcasts' achievements (malign neglect). Consider the elevation of Sen. Hillary Clinton since her defeat. She is exalted as a female pioneer, though she played down her gender through the first part of the race to stress her leadership qualities. Nowhere in the current laudations to her will you be reminded by the polluters of theKultursmog of her early campaign finance irregularities (and shades of 1996, from Chinese donors), the planted questioners discovered in her audiences, or the Clinton machine's bullying of opponents. Then there were her lies about Bosnia and playing a role in the Northern Ireland peace treaty. All these scandals the Kultursmog simply neglects -- benign neglect.
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