What's interesting for students of cultural morphology, though, has been the Drug War's escalation during the Clinton/Gore years. Years during which, as we all know, we've been privileged to exist under a Swinger President, a member of the postwar meritocracy from whom could be expected bold, liberating, just societal transformations. And so in the Drug War, as in other areas of our political cultural life under Clintonism?an era during which an ennobling mantle of "progressivism" can be prophylactically worn even while the wearer governs from a position that's arguably to the right of Nixon's?our political signifiers have slipped away from their referents, away from material reality. The Clinton administration?inoculated from criticism by virtue of the lucky fact that Southern troglodyte senators dislike it, and because Bill Clinton has been known to appreciate popular music?has brutally prosecuted the Drug War. It was the Clinton administration that, in the wake of 1996's Arizona and California referendums in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, threatened to arrest doctors and patients who participated in marijuana programs. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Janet Reno have opposed needle exchange programs. And it has been under Clinton that the incarceration rate of black males in America has reached new heights. It's worth noting, too, the Clinton administration's harassment of the tobacco industry, a development tangential to the antidrug effort.
Thus resurfaces the fundamental problem of Clintonism. The Clinton administration can get away with most anything?even a wholesale authoritarian effort against its own citizenry?and maintain its political virtue, at least among those who define the nation's political and cultural discourse.
It's therefore interesting to hear Clinton/Gore supporters insist that Gore's election is necessary to the protection of abortion rights. One suspects, in one's more imaginative and disillusioned moments, that it won't be a Republican administration or Republican-derived Supreme Court that eliminates abortion rights. The Republicans couldn't get away with it?not under the current political dispensation, or any one that's likely to congeal in the near future. A Clinton-derived administration of the future, however?like the current administration, promulgating an authoritarian politics under a "progressive" symbolic cover compounded of "pop" references and "bohemian" catchphrases and iconography?and acting, moreover, in the name of "the children," the unborn ones this time?just might.
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