About a week after 9/11, I was walking around Greenwich Village with my then-girlfriend (an anarcho-capitalist, no less!) talking about, well, the only thing there was to talk about. She fell silent for a moment, then sort of tentatively offered: “I think I wish Clinton were still president.” I whipped my head around, prepared to register my shock and horror… then stopped short. I realized I sort of did too.
It turns out I’m not alone. I attended the Competitive Enterprise Institute‘s annual dinner last night, and keynote speaker Chris Buckley set up one joke by asking the audience how they felt about the prospect of having Bill Clinton back in the White House. He obviously expected a chorus of groans and boos—understandably given the audience—since his next line was about how there had been “one upside” to Clinton, in the form of fodder for political humorists like Buckley. Except the groans and boos were not forthcoming. Instead, I heard cheers and applause. Scattered, to be sure, and not wildly enthusiastic, but seemingly sincere—Buckley looked visibly thrown for an instant. It’s hard to think of a clearer measure of the extent of the libertarian right’s disgust with Bush.