The Positive Politics of Shame, Part 1: Recent History:
When Bill Clinton left office back in the ancient time of 2001, he had the job approval of over 60% of the public, according to nearly every poll. Indeed, this rating never fell below 50% for his entire second term. Indeed, after his public apology for lying about getting fellated by Monica Lewinsky, most of the poll numbers went higher, even over 70%. Those are numbers that George W. Bush would rape a dying orphan to get.

Why? At what every pundit told us was the nadir of his presidency, when Joe Lieberman, a man who's never felt the luscious warmth of tongue on cock in his life, turned his perma-scowl on Clinton, when Republicans were demanding blood for semen, why did Bill Clinton still get the non-anally-inserted thumbs-up? Sure, you can say that the economy (for the middle and upper class) was shimmying along like a happy Betty Boop cartoon character, you can say that, even though Bosnia was a-calling and Rwanda was ignored, we weren't starting major wars, you can say that the Supreme Court wasn't destroying the Bill of Rights (much), and all those things are true.

But Bill Clinton benefited from the deeply purgative effects of shame. You remember shame? It's quite possible to have forgotten it in these shameless times. Clinton admitted he had lied, cornered though he was into lying, and he looked us in the face and said he was sorry that he had fucked up. And that was good enough for America. You take the measure of a man in those moments, and America understood that he had been shamed thoroughly. What the Republicans did after, abetted by some cowardly Democrats, was overkill. And the public knew it. If Clinton had not abased himself, the public would have turned on him, and, since Clinton is to politics as a leopard is to gazelle-slaughtering, he knew he had to bathe in his own shame before the people and the cameras. (By the way, this ain't about the destruction wrought by the Republicans' insistence on exploiting the Lewinsky distraction. It also ain't about the fucktarded circumstances behind the Starr investigation and the Paula Jones civil suit. Let's stay on a single subject here.)

For a long time, the left has ceded the notion of shame to the religious right, who mean it in terms of sexual morality, as if shame is only fit for harlots and adulterers, all to be put in the stocks so that tomatoes and shit can be hurled at them. What most people understand is that who fucks whom is a stupid measure for judging someone (unless there's deep hypocrisy and lawbreaking involved, Ms. Vitter). What the religious right gets is that shame is a way to destroy the powerful. And even though they have misapplied it, it can be a useful tool, a means to bring balance back to the world, a way to disempower the idiotic, the malevolent, and the misguided (or some heinous combination of the three).

So what the Rude Pundit is getting at here is that it's not just time for the Congress to use its constitutionally-granted powers to strip the Bush administration of the power it unilaterally declares it possesses. George Bush and his minions stand there and act without care, with a belief in their own imbalanced, uncheckable rightness, in way that makes people who criticized Bill Clinton's "arrogance" look like drooling nutbags at the filthiest, most rat-ridden asylum. It's time to shame them, to not only take away their funding, arrest their lackeys, and face them in constitutional crises, but to do it in a way that makes clear that they have done wrong and that they should be driven into the hills, stripped, tarred, and feathered. Rhetorically, of course, sure, whatever you say.

Roughly the same number of people disapproved of Bill Clinton's job performance at the end of his presidency as approve of George Bush's now. Let's just cut to the chase, call them Tories, and get to work.

It's all up to the Congress, for now. Over the next couple of days, barring anything particularly distracting, the Rude Pundit's gonna talk about how to bring the shame.

Tomorrow: Harriet Miers - the innate good of putting that bitch in chains.