Peggy Noonan has an interesting article in which she explains why she finds the public chumminess of ex-Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton creepy. After describing the benefits enjoyed by Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush because of the association of their husband and father respectively, Ms. Noonan writes that the exaggerated friendship is disrespectful to all the hard workers who really do care about the issues at hand.
What bothers me about the fervid friendship of the Bushes and Mr. Clinton--and the media celebration of it--is the faint whiff of superiority, a sense they radiate that all those slightly icky little people running around wailing about issues--tax reform, the relation of the individual to the state, the necessary character of a president--and working the precincts are somehow . . . a little below them. There is an air of condescension toward that grubby thing, belief. Those who hold it are not elevated, don't quite fit into the high-minded nonpartisan brotherhood. When in fact the people doing the day-to-day work of democracy, and who are in it because they are impelled by deep belief and philosophy, are actually not below them at all, and perhaps above them. Not that they're on the cover of People hugging, but at least they're serious.
It is the suggestion, or the suspicion, that these men have grown close because they are not serious, were never quite serious, that grates. That makes one wonder. That leaves some Republicans, and I have to assume more than a few Democrats, scratching their heads when they see Newt smiling with Hillary, and John McCain giggling with Hillary. It leaves you wondering: Why are these people laughing?
I largely agree. If it's just "my team" against "your team", with nothing more at stake than a trophy and bragging rights, then of course we should leave the game on the field and be friends after the competition is over. But when real, substantial, life-or-death matters hang in the balance, should they be so easily set aside for the sake of comity? As Ms. Noonan indicates, maybe this attitude reveals that politics isn't more than a game for some of our leaders.