chimp says - 'a submarine could take this place ou

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    Behind the scenes at the Clinton library, we saw America's future

    Sidney Blumenthal
    Thursday November 25, 2004
    The Guardian

    At the dedication of the Clinton library last week in Little Rock, Karl Rove and President Bush received separate tours of the dramatic building, a glistening silver, suspended boxcar filled with light and with a panoramic view of the Arkansas river. Flung across the river stands an old railroad bridge - and to Clinton watchers, bridges represent "the bridge to the 21st century", the former president's re-election slogan in 1996.
    The opening ceremony was biblical in its spectacle, length and rain. For more than four hours we huddled in thin ponchos under the downpour, awaiting four presidents. For the Democrats among us - former advisers and cabinet secretaries, celebrity supporters and high school friends of Bill - this was an unofficial convention, a kind of counter-inaugural, with rueful discussions of the recent defeat.

    John Kerry arrived to defiant cheering from the crowd. Then, when the presidents were announced, Bush tried to push his way past Clinton at the library door to be first in line, against the already accepted protocol for the event, as though the walk to the platform was a contest for alpha male. In his speech, Clinton sought to clarify the present by his broad analysis of globalisation - "an age of interdependence with new possibilities and new dangers" - and the offer of conciliation: "America has two great dominant strands of political thought; we're represented up here on this stage: conservatism, which at its very best draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which at its very best breaks down barriers that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place."

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    In his effort to transcend the division of America into two nations, red and blue, Clinton was attempting to demonstrate his tradition - the absence of dogma, the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere, and that solutions cannot be imposed but must be worked out in democratic politics, involving the arts of building coalitions, compromises and experimentation, of which he was the leading practitioner and survivor.

    Offstage, beforehand, Rove and Bush had had their library tours. According to two eyewitnesses, Rove had shown keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W Bush library and legacy. "You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..." Thus he identified himself as more than the ruthless campaign tactician; he was also the invisible hand of power, pervasive and expansive, designing to alter the fundamental American compact.

    Bush appeared distracted, and glanced repeatedly at his watch. When he stopped to gaze at the river, where secret service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: "Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there." Bush replied: "A submarine could take this place out."

    Was the president warning of an al-Qaida submarine, sneaking undetected up the Mississippi, through the locks and dams of the Arkansas river, surfacing under the bridge to the 21st century to dispatch the Clinton library? Is that where Osama bin Laden is hiding?
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