“The perfect is the enemy of the good”. Really? This advice, first printed in 1772, may have some value for, say, me when purchasing brassieres — to the reader unfamiliar with this item: it is never perfect, and rarely even good. Still, the instruction is useful: appreciate what you have. To wait for the perfect garment, one that offers comfort and/or improved silhouette, would be to reject all support. And bra-lessness, I have found, is the enemy of decent speech.
This is also lately true for politicians. If they’re not plagiarising speech or taking it to down to the shithole, they’re shoplifting it from old French poems. They love this line, which, although written by Voltaire, had nothing to do with liberal achievement.
Or, underachievement, really. It is evoked now, especially by US liberals, as an argument for gradualism. “America can’t afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” said President Bill Clinton of Obamacare in 2009. Obama said of The Recovery Act, that, “we can’t afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary.” Speaking after a party caucus meeting, a Dem Senator said, also of Obamacare, that, “The general consensus was, we shouldn’t make the perfect the ene– … ”. You get the idea.
We all get the idea. Apparently progressive politicians now prefer that their least progressive policies be enacted without progressive debate. Obamacare was hardly progressive. The $789 billion stimulus bill, which passed easily, was no gift to the needy. To question this administration’s anti-terrorism policies, as Glenn Greenwald, one of a few genuinely progressive critics did in popular press, was to — cop this! — “make an enemy of the good”.
The “enemy” to good is not the daydream of the perfect — although, let’s not buy that Obama’s consensus with the Bush doctrine is anything close to perfect. The redemption of evil acts and actors is the death of the good.
They’ve stopped quoting Voltaire now, these American politicians and pundits. Instead, they’re looking to invent a peaceful, prosperous past that never, ever was. Trump has debased the office of the presidency etc with shocking shithole type comments, sure. But, others who debased human life are redeemed by his vulgarity.
I’m a bit sick of this redemptive sin. Perhaps you too have tired of warmongers recast as lovable old folks on late-night TV. If it is the case that you have come to my outrageous conclusion — that the enemy of good is evil, not perfection — enjoy some light Trump-era relief in the popular BuzzFeed style: Seven Times Those Hawks Who Called For Civilian Blood Were Totally Adorable.
7. Sean Spicer
Spicer may or may not have longed for the deaths of far-away brown children. I don’t know, I was too awed by the nerve of his early claim that Trump commanded the, “largest audience ever to witness an inauguration. Period.” Really, the worst thing we can be sure the guy did is to lie very boldly. Still. The speed with which the liberal awards set embraced Spicer after his release by Trump was dizzying enough, this Emmys appearance merits inclusion.
6. Oprah Winfrey
No. You don’t get to delete the record of your televised support for the Iraq War and escape my listicle. Meryl and Tom had it accidentally right when they declared that Oprah could be as valuable to political life as the newspaper to which their awful new film pays obsequious tribute, The Washington Post. The Post prefers the promotion of war to fearless independent journalism. It is irrefutable that this glorious paper is a fiction, and it’s malarkey to promote a 2020 run on the strength of a speech that actually didn’t say anything by a person who recommends The Secret.
5. David Frum
For more than a year, progressives have been neurotically sharing Frum’s rot from The Atlantic on social media to prove that even bad guys are redeemed by disliking Trump For Just About A Year; my partner has agreed to keep my social media passwords a secret from me, for the sake of that sanity and those few friendships I retain. You just can’t keep calling people you grew up with, “bootlicking twits so eager to preserve the status quo, they will blame anything Russian for its obvious changes.” But, whatever. Frum is a monster who was paid to produce Bush the Younger’s “axis of evil” speech. In Foreign Policy, he wrote of Samuel Huntington — author of The Clash of Civilizations, a book that reinvented racism as realism for Neocons — a “great political scientist”.
4. John McCain
The Guardian is on the drugs. So is Mother Jones, the progressive publication that, in 2013, progressively named all the nations the GOP Senator has been keen to bomb. In October last year, however, the same magazine described him as an opponent of white nationalism. A man who ran with Sarah Palin. A politician who voted, as recorded in the Mother Jones of 2008, against extending relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina. This is what it takes in the present to be an anti-racist superhero.
3. Hillary Clinton
2. G.W. Bush
1. Bill Clinton
Best hush up about Haiti, matey. It’s not looking good for the Missus. Alleged collusion between President Clinton, Secretary Clinton and seeming introduction agency for caring billionaires, The Clinton Foundation, aside, just shush, now. Someone might begin to feel pity for those 500,000 Iraqi children you starved. It could ruin your legacy as America’s “First Black President“.