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Remenbering Civility


I try to use this blog to discuss economic events and changes in the investment climate, hopefully in an understandable way, preferably with a touch of whimsy. I assiduously avoid talking of personalities, with the recent discussion of Bernanke being an exception. But, I cannot resist this opportunity.

Long time readers know my greatest fear is that America is no longer governable, that our unique brand of democracy has become obsolete. The D’s and the R’s of DC have so polluted the “Well of State” that we are no longer governable . . . by anybody! Today, I was fortunate to listen to President Bill Clinton AND President George W. Bush sit on the stage together and talk. That’s all, they just talked like two old friends.

During the terrible tsunami a few years ago, President Bush (41) and President Clinton became good friends. (Clinton even slept on the floor one night, so the older Bush could use the one available cot.) That friendship has continued to grow over the years. Now, President Bush (43) and President Clinton are working together on relief for Haiti, and they have also become friends. Am I more surprised or shocked? When President Bush told his mother, Barbara, he was on his way to appear with President Clinton, she instructed him to “say hi to your step-brother”.
Do you hear the theme song from Twilight Zone playing?

Cats and dogs can play together, like it used to be in Washington when elected officials were civil to each other, before gerrymandered districts insured the election of extremists from both parties, before elections required officials to return home every weekend to raise funds instead of networking with fellow legislators of both parties, and before each party had their own cable channel.

Clinton was not surprising. His responses were thoughtful, sensitive, nuanced, but ponderous. (However, he did look much older and had an alarming amount of age spots on his hands.) Bush was still “preachy” in his responses but absolutely stole the show with some great one-liners. For example, when asked how he would have prepared differently if he had known he would someday be President, he replied that he “would have been much better-behaved in college”! Where was this guy during his eight years in the White House?

Anyway, I’ll talk about their policy differences another time. For now, it is simply uplifting to see politicians being decent and civil to each other. Of course, neither one lives in Washington any longer . . .

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