Last night, a picture of former President and nearly-First Husband Bill Clinton began making the rounds on the internet, largely on the strength of the fact that it was very cute, and despite the fact that, like any world leader, Clinton is an immensely divisive figure, both for his personal conduct, and the decisions, successes, and failures of his time in office.
That’s Clinton, impish as fuck, taking his place in history in between statues of George H.W. and George W. Bush. Clinton took the picture while he was at the George W. Bush Library in Dallas, Texas for a speaking engagement with W (whose ongoing cycles of demonization and public rehabilitation are equally prone to fluctuation). The two men have struck up an odd friendship in recent years, largely thanks to them both basically being down-home good-ol’ boys who somehow ended up as leaders the free world. (During the meeting, the two men both offered up veiled advice to their successor, Donald Trump, speaking on the virtues of humility and doing right by the people.)
The internet quickly fell in love with the picture, willfully ignoring the slowly building backlog of hate that starts bubbling up every time people remember Bill Clinton exists for more than a minute at a time.
“What a cute smile,” they said, as screams of “Her e-mails!” and “Whitewater!” began to echo from deep below the earth.
“He was always funny,” they reminisce, as the accusations become more pointed. Gennifer Flowers. Monica Lewinsky. Why does their guy get shit for this stuff, and Clinton gets a pass?
“Sure, he was a flawed human being. A mixed success as a statesman, a frequent moral failure. But still…he had someth”—but by then, it’s too late. The Argument is here, and all cuteness has been destroyed. The Argument destroys everything. No adorable smiles remain.