BLANKLEY: Looking on the bright side

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I hate to admit it, but I miss Bill Clinton. At least that lecherous old charmer was more amusing than his successor as a Democratic president, our new mortician-in-chief, Barack “end of the world” Obama.

Still, our new president’s spokesman did deliver the funniest line of this so far not-too-funny millennium. Last week Mr. Gibbs said the president - who had in the previous couple of weeks talked about our economy being a catastrophe from which we might never recover - called the president “an eternal optimist.”

I appreciate that presidential spokesmen are not always known for their candor. And putting a positive gloss on his boss’ image is barely an infraction, given the howlers that have often come from that podium. But really, one prefers one’s perfidy to be at least plausible. If our economy in a death spiral is Mr. Obama’s upbeat version of events, one can only tremble at what he would sound like when he turns a little glum.

Perhaps it was with those comments in mind that Mr. Clinton took the opportunity - while purportedly complimenting his successor - to advise Mr. Obama he ought to try to be a little more upbeat about the economy.

(One of the more enjoyable entertainments we can look forward to over the next four years will be watching Bill Clinton sneak in little disparaging statements about his successor every time he pretends to compliment him. Bill is obviously being driven nuts by Mr. Obama. After all, as I recall, Mr. Clinton once complained he could have been a great president if only he had a depression or major war to preside over. How envious he must be of Mr. Obama, who may be in the process of turning an economic downturn into a depression and a small war in Afghanistan into a major war in Pakistan. Well, Bill, great men make their own opportunities.)

Nonetheless, things do seem a mite nasty at the moment. And Bill Clinton’s advice to be more cheerful reminded me of the closing song in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.” Brian, a Christ-like figure in this comedy, had just been nailed to the cross by the Romans and was in the process of dying from his crucifixion, when he broke out in a cheerful little toe-tapping song, part of the lyrics going:

“… always look on the bright side of life…

“Always look on the light side of life…

“If life seems jolly rotten

“There’s something you’ve forgotten

“And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.

“When you’re feeling in the dumps

“Don’t be silly chumps

“Just purse your lips and whistle - that’s the thing.

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