Clinton and the Counterculture

Clinton and the Counterculture

Did Bill Clinton’s impeachment crisis represent a continuation of the culture wars from the nineteen sixties? My three-part answer is: it did; did not; and vice versa. To wit:

(1) The impeachment did represent a continuation of the old culture wars, if only because a large part of the radical right thought it did. Bill Clinton has wavered in his governmental policies according to the political exigencies of the moment, but he has never wavered in his personality—has never wavered in expressing an air of cheerful informality and natural sensuality, in enjoying a black-influenced cross-over pop music, in having black friends, in being tolerant and friendly to homosexuals, and in having married a woman who is his professional equal. Which is to say, traces of the counterculture of old do seem to be all over him. Those traces have evidently driven a number of right wingers out of their minds. It is because, in a certain kind of right-wing imagination, the counterculture is a program for vice and crime. If evidence turned up tomorrow showing that Bill Clinton really did murder Vincent Foster, the right wing would say: See? The sixties! Remember Charles Manson, the California hippie cult murderer?

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