Awaiting Gay Marriage Ruling; Jindal Joins the Crowd; Polarization's Role in Flag Debate; Bill Clinton v. Rush Limbaugh

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Good morning, it’s Thursday, June 25, 2015. Official Washington is practically bursting in anticipation of pending Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Twenty-one years ago today, President Clinton devoted his Saturday radio address to his administration’s attempts to expand health insurance. If you think that shows how long we’ve been discussing this issue, consider that Clinton mentioned Harry Truman and Richard Nixon as also pursuing a federal solution to America’s medically uninsured – without success.

Clinton was feeling optimistic, however.

 “Momentum is building toward a solution for the health care crisis,” he said. This prediction proved premature, just as President Obama’s experience has shown that government fixes can be elusive, even after legislation is enacted.

Clinton was also feeling defiant on June 25, 1994, and he openly chided his Capitol Hill adversaries.

“Members of Congress, along with the president and all federal government employees, we have a great deal right now,” Clinton said. “We work for you, the taxpayers of America, and you reward us with health coverage that can’t be taken away, even if we get sick.

“I believe every working American deserves these same benefits and that same guarantee,” he added. “I think you ought to tell Congress that you believe the same thing.”

I’ll have more on Bill Clinton’s state-of-mind in June 1994 in a moment.

First, I’ll refer you to RCP’s front page, which aggregates columns, video clips, and analysis spanning the ideological spectrum. We also have a complement original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors this morning, including the following:

* * *

Obama, Clinton Hail Gay Marriage Rights on Eve of Ruling. In separate events, they declared marriage equality a civil right ahead of the Supreme Court decision on its legality, Alexis Simendinger reports.

 Live Audio of Landmark Court Rulings Urged. Sixteen lawmakers want the Supreme Court to provide live access to its pending announcements regarding Obamacare and same-sex marriage. James Arkin has the story.

Rising Star to Long Shot: Jindal Joins GOP Race. Caitlin Huey-Burns reports on the Louisiana governor’s announcement, and how far he must climb to become a viable candidate.

Poll: Bush, Trump Surge Following Announcements. Andrew Desiderio has the details.

How Polarization Weakened Confederate Flag Support. Sean Trende explains why coalition realignments and the simple passage of time helped turn the tide in the hot-button debate.

Poll: Most Want Rebel Flag Removed From S.C. Capitol. Courtney Such has the numbers.

Jim Webb on Removing Confederate Flag: Not So Fast. Andrew has this story.

Charleston’s Quieter Lessons. A grieving congregation’s forgiveness of a mass murderer threw our outrage-fueled media for a loop, writes Heather Wilhelm.

Benghazi Panel Dems: Release Blumenthal Transcript. Andrew updates the dispute surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails to her adviser.

When Athletes Hit Their Peak. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy spotlights new research findings.

* * *

On June 24, 1994, the day before his radio address about health care, Clinton lashed out at some of his critics while being interviewed aboard Air Force One on KMOX radio while en route to St. Louis. In his second year in office, Clinton had made a practice of denouncing evangelical leaders, Republicans, right-wing talk radio hosts, and the media. On this day, he singled out two of his tormentors by name: Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell.

The famous televangelist and his Lynchburg, Va., church had provoked the president’s wrath by hawking a $43 video airing various allegations about the president’s personal life. Some were wild fantasies about unsolved murders in Arkansas. Others repeated rumors about Clinton’s extramarital escapades, speculation which later proved not entirely unfounded.

If that lurid video was a precursor of the anti-Hillary Clinton film that resulted in the Citizens United decision, it also foreshadowed the sex scandal that would lead to impeachment. But in 1994, even those who didn’t give Clinton the benefit of the doubt could wonder about a Christian church that raised funds by trafficking in salacious gossip.

“Remember, Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple,” Clinton said. “He didn’t try to take over the job of the money-changers.”

The president also implied that the sex allegations in the video were untrue. In response, Falwell invited Clinton to tape a rebuttal, promising to air it on his popular program, “The Old Time Gospel Hour.” The president did not accept this gambit.

When it came to Rush Limbaugh, Clinton’s claim wasn’t as specific, but the rancor in his voice was palpable.

His voice rising, the president protested that Americans were subject to “a constant unremitting drumbeat of negativism and cynicism” from Limbaugh and his numerous conservative clones.

Clinton also grumbled that Limbaugh’s syndicated show would follow him on the same St. Louis radio station, and that no reporter for that station -- or anywhere else -- would fact-check anything he said.

 “After I get off the radio today with you, Rush Limbaugh will have three hours to say whatever he wants,” Clinton said. “I won't have any opportunity to respond, and there’s no truth detector. You won’t get on afterwards and say what was true and what wasn't!”

His hosts didn’t quite know how to respond to this complaint, but Limbaugh certainly did. On his show that very day, Limbaugh sounded delighted, not to mention unrepentant.

Limbaugh repeated what the president said, then mocked him. “There is no need for a truth detector,” he chortled. “I am the truth detector!”

That’s an argument we are still having today, too.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

 

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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