I really had no formal opinion about Bill Clinton until this campaign started. Or Hillary Clinton for that matter.
I knew she was a former First Lady who became a senator from New York. Beyond that, I hadn’t heard a peep from her since her election in 2000. I had not really paid attention to the former president either, though I had spent ten years in his military. Not that I made time for politics or politicians. Throughout the 1990s I was strictly of the partying class and little else mattered. OK. I wrote as well, but not about politics.
Then came the fiascoes in 2000 and 2004. No thinking American could remain willfully ignorant after that. Once the Internet really hit its stride, blind ignorance became even less forgivable, despite our broken education system.
Which leads me, in a round-about way, back to Bill Clinton. Once his wife started to run on all the things she claimed they did in the 1990s, I was forced to go back and look into all the stuff I had ignored when I lived through it.
I had to look at the totality of Bill – from his Perot-enabled election in 1992 to his finger-wagging truculence on national TV. We all know the quote. No sense in repeating it. It reminded about the things I forgot that I didn’t like about Bill Clinton. The lying is perhaps the most important, but the centrist, republican-light policy positions his administration pursued continued an unbroken chain of corporate rule in this country that stretches back to Ronald Reagan.
The initiatives he ushered into law have had lasting and detrimental affects to our society that are still playing themselves out. Perhaps most devastating to our poorest communities was the escalation of the War on Drugs. This out-right assault on the most vulnerable in our society is a shame the no democratic president should have been able to erase. That our incarceration rates are higher than our graduation rates in many inner cities is a legacy of Clinton as well. No Child Left Behind simply made worse an education problem that began under Bill.
Bill Clinton also pushed for a comprehensive Crime Bill in 1994 that completely neglected the massive trends away from crime and actually created more crime than it prevented. Again, this bill of Bill’s had a decidedly republican way of “solving” crime – assume that everyone is a criminal and act accordingly. This is the basis of his ridiculous 400,000 new cops on the street.
Why not spend that money on inner city development and education, thus negating the need for more police? Why not seek to make the injustice system more just, thus ensuring that a brush with the law doesn’t become a life sentence of recidivism? Why not approach these questions as Progressive Democrat instead of a DLC Centrist?
It was during this investigation into the Clinton legacy that I began to see a pattern emerge:
- Welfare Reform
- Media Consolidation
- Banking Deregulation
- Trade Policy
- First Anti-Terror Legislation
- War on Domestic “Terrorism”
- War on Terror
Bill Clinton is really a neocon! Or, at the very least, the agenda of the Democratic Leadership Council has been to push corporate and repressive legislation that are good for the few at the expense of the many. So, Bill Clinton is a neolib, the other side of the neocon coin. Based on some very specific votes on corporate agenda items, Hillary Clinton is a neolib as well. In fact, the whole founding cadre of DLC members are in fact a neocon attempt to subvert to democratic party toward supporting a corporate-governed government. An attempt that has been brilliantly successful.
Then came Campaign 2008.
That’s when millions of progressive voters just like me were forced to look back at what was a pretty good time in most of our lives and peel off the rose-colored layers of sugar plum memories to see how the 1990s was a continuation of the 1980s and prepared the country for what was to follow this decade. A republican Congress made it easier for him to push such regressive legislation, but that hardly makes the democrats innocents in all this. That’s not to say they were all in on it, but they were mostly all in on it. Just look at the bulk of the votes over the last 28 years.
Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of Corporate America. In fact, all three branches are now firmly in the hands of corporate-friendly politicians and judges.
Then came Barack Obama – a true progressive democrat who came out of no where to challenge the neolib coup that has been guiding the democratic party since 1992. A man who has only been in the senate three years, but has ushered 15 bills into law and has offered an entirely new vision of transparent government for all. Amazing. A government that truly works for everyone and not just the top 1 percent. A United States where the American People are the only Special Interest that matters. The last democrat to offer that vision (and then actually try to follow-through on it) was Jimmy Carter.
We have another choice this year. We can elect Barack Obama and allow him to lead us in an American Renaissance that couldn’t have come a second too soon. We can stay involved and force our representatives to actually represent us. If they fail in their duties, we can force them out of office and elect someone better. We can stay active in our communities and strengthen the bonds that unite us while at the same time confront the demons that keep us divided.
Barack has very rightly laid this challenge at our feet, because no one man can do it alone.
Are you up to the challenge?
I appreciate all of the work that you put into this post and it’s very well-written, but Bill Clinton “triangulated” us into the White House. He challenged a sitting President near the peak of his popularity and with the exception of Jerry Brown and Pat Schroeder, there weren’t any liberals in the ’92 race because “liberal” had become a bad word.
During the primary process, I leaned toward Jerry Brown, but he really never had much of a chance because most of the country really only knew of him through the Carson show and I’m sure if you asked people what else they knew besides his nickname, the vast majority would’ve said that he had run before and then they would’ve brought up his very high-profile affair with Linda Rondstat.
This is not to take anything away from Mr. Brown and I’d have no problem, if he wanted to run for a fourth time, but Bill Clinton won us the White House and he was re-elected. I’ve heard a lot of talk over the past couple of months about Obama’s 50-state strategy and I certainly wish him luck, but he hasn’t even won the nomination. Therefore, I really see no reason to rip into the only Democratic President this country has had over the past twenty-eight years, simply because though he was successful, you may not consider him ideal.
My favorite Voltaire quote: “The best is the enemy of the good.” Translation: if you only settle for the ideal, you might not like what you end up with.
…and I’m glad we didn’t wait for it.
Jason admits he has no first hand knowledge of the Clinton years, so I imagine he has even less knowledge of Reagan/Bush.
If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Keep Hope Alive by Jesse Jackson. Jackson explains how Dukakis failed to challenge Reagan/Bush’s war on the poor and minorities. It was Bill Clinton who mounted that challenge and brought the Reagan/Bush era to an end. Prudish Al Gore, gave the country back to the Republican thugs who have continued their attack on the fabric of society. You’ll excuse me if I don’t have much faith in the Obama movement to blunt that attack. They don’t seem to know it exists. If we judge by Jason’s view of history, that is.
Ben, coming from you, this post is astounding. You are the biggest, consistent idealist I have seen on TPM. I admire your consistency, though I have yet to see a pragmatic bone in your body.
Even our interaction on the environmental/energy thread indicates that you will be ideal about the environment unless the energy issues become a crisis.
In some sense, that’s how these other issues do become crises.
But, as I said, I admire your consistency even if we seldom agree.
Well, one example of where I’m willing to “settle” is nuclear power. It’s definitely not the best option, but I think it’s a better option than where we currently are.
Whether one is considered an idealist or not (not that I’d ever take that as an insult) is partly based on what you think is achievable. Of course people will disagree on that. The best is the enemy of the good, but I think that the better is bosom buddies with it. (There’s a reason that writing isn’t my strong suit.)
Of course, one reason it speaks to me is exactly because I do tend towards idealism and need to remind myself to step back from the ledge sometimes. In computer science, Donald Knuth has a similar expression, “premature optimization is the root of all evil.” This also speaks to me for the same reason (that I’m frequently guilty of premature optimization).
Ain’t that a real bitch? not to go away from the OP topic too much, but I can’t tell you how much time I have spent projecting potential traps both when tempted to optimize at some point, or when determining normalization breakpoints. Fortunately, I seem to have a good sense of ‘code smell’, and seem to choose quite well.
I guess my first question would be if a “democratic” president governs for two terms like a right of center moderate republican how does that make him our only democratic president in the last 28 years?
To be judged a success as a democratic president, should the president in question leave the country more liberal and not less? Shouldn’t the country be further along the road toward a more enlightened and progressive society? Isn’t it clear by now that we haven’t moved that way adn are in fact regressing?
As I laid in my argument, there is an 28-year record of an unbroken, rightward tilt to our country’s policies – not withstanding 8 years of democratic rule for part of that time and a “democratically” controlled Congress for some of it as well. Despite that “democratic” influence, we have steadily devolved into a corporate-controlled state with propaganda for news; influence peddling for politics; and a sledgehammer for foreign relations.
This isn’t the sort of thing that happens overnight and while Bush did much to accelerate the trend, Bill Clinton did nothing to stop it and in fact kept moving right along, setting up Baby Bush for his candy store romp.
I simply can no longer consider Bill Clinton a democrat, despite what his resume says.
The Democratic Party is a big tent. It has people from a wide spectrum and though it’s tradtionally known as being more liberal than the Republicans, there are a lot of conservative Democrats and folks all in between. I mean, I guarantee that the Governor of Arizona has some beliefs in common with the Governor of Massachusetts, but I’m sure one could be called more conservative than the other. The same could most likely be said, if you compare a random Democrat from Rutland, Vermont to another in Gaffney, South Carolina.
Underneath every administration there are hundreds of appointees, who hire thousands of administrators and they run the regulatory bodies. They set environmental rules; They pursue equal employment cases; They investigate unfair trade practices or misleading advertising; It is these folks who decide that science counts and what can be added to our foods. Not all of these people came from the ranks of the DLC, but most of those who were appointed came from the Democratic Party.
As a progressive, sure I wish Bill could’ve done more and I really wish that he didn’t get derailed off the bat over the issue of gays in the military, but compared to Bush Sr. and Reagan before him, Bill was as good as we could get. When he was elected, we pretty much knew what we were getting. This was especially true with his re-election because we already had four years of experience with the man.
Perhaps you would’ve preferred that he’d have been more progressive and this election you may feel the same, it’s certainly within your rights. What I took issue with was that you basically dismissed all of his achievements by focusing on a handful of issues and though you mentioned Hillary twice, your post seemed entirely about the things with which you fault him.
(Still, as others have said, it was a well-written post and let me join the others in welcoming you to the arena)
Correction: Sorry – You actually mention her more than twice.
It was entirely about Bill. Hillary is only a by-stander in this particular blog, though I am sure I will get around to dissecting her much-lauded 35-years of experience.
I didn’t just comment on a handful of random issues and forget all the “good stuff” that Bill supposedly did. As far as the record is concerned, what little good the Clinton administration may have done has been vastly off-set by the harm he has done. Even Nixon signed the Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
Every administration sets the tone for their departments in the executive branch. That not a single progressive through-line can be found during 8 years of a “democratic” presidency is troubling. It’s not just about him not being enough of a progressive. It’s about him being 180-degree out from anything I would even remotely consider progressive.
The tent just isn’t big enough for that kind of rank hypocrisy.
Which governor of Massachusetts did you have in mind? Mitt Romney–the man who gave Massachusetts its “liberal” universal health insurance law that forces the poor to buy insurance policies from corporations? That is, the “liberal” Hillary plan for universal health insurance?
The Clintons never fought for a progressive policy against political will. Never. Their idea of bipartisanship is caving to the Republicans. They do not espouse progressive values. Hillary’s healthcare debacle was because of her management style that turned off and offended a great many people (sound familiar?); then her calculation to give the insurance companies everything they wanted, and then they turned on her. Their pro-NAFTA stance turned off loyal Democrats who saw no reason to support them in health care. And they spectacularly lost Congress in 1994. And Hillary was a huge part of that. So much for “experience”.
They could have horse traded to get us legislation we wanted. But the Clintons are truly center-right — that IS their ideology. Her populit rhetoric right now is nothing but a sham.
I believe she honestly cares about healthcare. I really do. But from the tone of her campaign, it is clear that she’s learned nothing — NOTHING — about how to convince or motivate people. She is still scolding and insulting anyone who doesn’t agree with her. We can only assume that her presidency (God forbid) will be full of the same divisiveness and acrimony that Bill’s was. And the personal drama — her means of winning votes is playing on the sympathies of women my age, and she is deeply fed by their protection. It’s childish and selfish.
They still have deep problems with the truth. They have allied themselves with the worst of the right wing media machine, and it disgusts me.
When she “endorsed” McCain and insulted and demeaned Barack, a good democrat, breaking all rules for this level of campaign discourse, I came to the conclusion that she is unfit and unworthy to be president.
I’m done defending the Clintons, I’m admitting to what I see that I denied for so long. And it’s not a pretty sight.
That’s an unusually distorted view of history, isn’t it?
Thye facts argue that he has. If this was a sporting event the stands would be empthy because the fans know it is over. He does not have a slight lead. His lead is not like a 7 point lead in football it is like a 7 point lead in hockey. Ther is nothing Sen Clinton can do to turn this arround. It would take an act of god. So baring Sen Obama’s death or some equaly game changing event he will be our nominee.
I meant that in its purest form.
If and when a candidate gets over the 50%+1 threshold, then they become the “presumed nominee”, but they don’t actually get nominated until the convention. Though that wasn’t exactly the over-arching my point with that fragment because it’s mostly semantics.
What I had intended to insinuate is that there’s been a whole lot of talk about how Obama is going to do well in various states which aren’t historically on the table, but even if he won a resounding victory during a random state’s primary, it’s still a small percentage of the population. He and his vocal supporters may have plans to possibly win in far-off locales and I certainly wish them luck, but he hasn’t actually won enough delegates to be assured of the nomination, let alone be a two-term President.
In its purest for a racer that has been laped has not lost yet, but we all know it has. Pretending that Sen Clinton still has a chance is either disembling or ignorence.
Let me correct the record here –
‘He challenged a sitting President near the peak of his popularity’
Actually Bush Senior was at the bottom of his popularity due to the recession. There were numerous jokes about his economic plans to get us out of the recession. Cartoons showed him buying shoe laces at the mall as ‘his’ way of contributing to the economy. Bill Mantra for the election – ‘Its the economy, stupid’. Bush’s rating were way down after the success from Desert Storm.
Bill Clinton did do a great job campaigning but Bush was significantly weakened and Ross Perot just added to the mix as well.
Agreed. I know many viewed his centrist views as better, and the only reason he got elected. My stepdad stubbornly will tell me he only wants a middle-of-the-road candidate despite the fact that most of his views lean much farther to the left. That’s why he likes Bill. And I know a lot of the country agrees with him about the “moderate” positions. Me? I’m about as far left as you can get. So I naturally gravitate to those who hold the same ideals as me. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards have all consistently been pretty progressive this campaign. I’m still to the left of them on some issues.
Anyway, my point is that I know a lot of people like the center. I happen to think that after 8 years of W. the center is shifting to the left. Backlash, I guess. Both of our candidates are running on a more liberal platform that Clinton did, and McCain is running on a much more liberal platform IN CERTAIN AREAS than recent Republicans.
I think Bill was a good President. I think he could have been a great President, if not for all the drama. So this isn’t a knock at him. But I think at this moment a more “progressive” person is needed in office.
I think this is an excellent post, and I don’t think that the poster is “ripping” into Bill Clinton just to rip into him. In case you are unaware, Bill Clinton’s wife is running for president explicitly on a platform of restoring the good times we had in the ’90s.
I think it’s fair to look at that decade critically, especially because this poster does not insult us by delving into Bill’s failings of a more personal nature, which any fair minded person knows are irrelevant to how well he performed as president. The ensuing impeachment was a horrific attempt at a coup of a democratically elected head of state for which the Republicans have never fully paid the price.
Rather this poster makes an excellent case for the argument that true progressives should not be supportive of a return of Clintonian politics to the White House. The level of support Hillary has received from the blogosphere has always baffled me, and this post makes clear that the Clintons are not progressives.
I’m quite aware of what she’s running on: no need for the sarcasm. And I wasn’t implying that the poster was “ripping” into Bill – that was a response to Magister’s first comment.
I actually posted in part in reply to magister. This comments section has caused me to offend numerous people with whom I had no beef.
Sorry about that, but this comment section buh-huh-huh-lows.
Gotcha. Crossed wires. Sorry for jumping the gun.
Hillary, you just couldn’t keep your mouth shut.
April 3, 2008, 7:51 pm
Posted by Kozlo in Election2008
It’s sad! The only thing the old Hag had to do was keep her big mouth shut while Hussein Osama (I mean Obama) was taking his grilling about his association with the anti-american pig, “THE SO-CALLED REV. WRIGHT”. But this feminist BIG MOUTH couldn’t. She had to go tell a big lie about her dodging sniper fire in a visit to the Balkans. What a joke. Anyway, she took some of the attention off that idiot Obama and his pastor problems. Bad timing Hillary. Next time the Osama one is in trouble with the press, KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT.
Just maybe, we can expose the anti-american Obama for what he is.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS POST, check out http://www.YourThreeCents.com
This could POSSIBLY BE one of the WORST presidential candidate pools ever. See what America’s Youth is saying about each of the candidates, what they have done for the campaigns and for OUR future.
Dude. This is not an advertising platform for crazy.
As to keeping quiet, you should follow your own advice, chris copperhead.
It is stupid and childish to miswrite Obama’s name and shows you are just a dope.
WOW. The Fox News, Rush, Billo, and Hannity fan clubs are showing up all over TPM.
What is Hillarious is that they are completely disgusted that Hillary is going to loose. And after all they did for her to keep her campaign afloat.
It shows how much faith that have in John M. doesn’t it?
Make me a sandwich, pennyhead.
A very fine, even professional level post. I admire anyone who can maintain an analysis of our national situation without screaming after the first three lines.
I look forward to more from this writer.
Thanks for the kind words, Kevin.
I have been debating jumping into the blogging fray of late while keeping myself restricted to comments threads for the most part and working on my arguments.
TPM was a place I found recently that seemed to offer a slightly elevated political discourse for the most part. A funny thing I have noticed recently is the people on this site and others like it tend to be the ones that post under their own names.
I am beginning to think there is a fundamental truth to be found in this whole transparency movement of which you and I are playing a small role by posting as ourselves rather than a clever nickname with an abundance of sarcasm and surfeit of thought.
I know it cooled my rhetoric a couple of much-needed notches.
Seems people aren’t talking issues, just ‘my candidate can beat up your candidate’ stuff.
This post is refreshing, presidents come and go… no one person is the savior for all.
I voted Perot, we can’t know how good a president he would have made. But, I wonder how much better off both parties would have been had he won. The status quo is the problem. It’s still impossible to do it from outside the two parties, but Obama is doing it from within the Democratic party. It is the reason I became a Democrat after thinking I would be an Independent all my life. To borrow a Petraeus quote, it is fragile and reversible. The party has to prove it is ready for change, nominating Hillary would prove to me they are not.
I, too, was an independent who had to register democrat to vote in the primary. I agree that Barack is running a progressive third party insurgency from within the existing framework.
I actually think that Perot’s biggest mistake was running as an independent. What he didn’t do that might have had a chance of succeeding was mount his challenge from within the republican party. Many republicans would have welcomed a fiscal conservative over Daddy Bush.
Interesting parallel that Bill Clinton and the DLC successfully took over the democratic party with nary a whimper of protest. Ironically, Ross Perot was unable to unseat the Reagan neocons and split the vote just enough to usher in a democratic administration that was every bit as damaging and corporate-controlled as the republicans administration he despised.
We live in interesting times at least.
Again, you have no idea what a neocon is.
You are right, people completely overlook the fact that he was more Republican than Democrat. Aside from a few social policy differences during Bill’s tenure we have had an uninterrupted reign of conservatives since Reagan took office. Many in this party, and perhaps that is the issue in this election, seem to think Democrats are what the Clintons were, so they are fighting for the center-right, while the rest of us want to actually make some progress far beyond the mediocrity of the Clinton years.
I just hope we can get a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and Obama in the White House so we can really make some big changes…we need a Democratic version of Reagan, just what Obama said we needed months ago and subsequently got attacked for by a much of disingenuous opportunistic vultures. He was absolutely right though, we need BIG change, just in the right direction this time.
Clinton-Bush-McCain-Clinton. Coke, New Coke, Coke Classic, Pepsi. Time for something different. Obama!
I’ve given up soda caffeine and I drink Diet Squirt exclusively now.
I’m still addicted to black coffee though, baby steps eh?
A great post and you shamed me into changing my name here to
my real one, I just have to figure out how to do it.
Your analysis is so profound that I will just shut up and read it again, instead of trying to say something smart and quite possibly inconsequential.
Looking forward to reading more from you,
Thank you for the kind words. I shamed myself a while back into using my real name as well. There were just certain turns of phrases that were easier to use when hiding behind a pseudonym and did little to contribute to the discussion. It was actually Barack who inspired me to change my communication style.
Sorry, I’m a single mother with a 16 year old girl. I started commenting on the old CSPAN community boards under my own name, and was warned off doing so by posters that knew better.
After being harassed and even stalked by some pretty twisted people it would be totally irresponsible for me to post under my own name.
I am workerbee or bee everywhere, and I stand behind every single word I utter.
Elitism is petty in all it’s myriad forms.
That said, nice post, but I tend to agree that it is rather slanted.
The 1996 Telecommunications Act is the reason I’m not happy with the Clintons. However, they are not evil, and the naked perfidy of the Bush Administration makes their corruption look like a kid that steals the milk money.
How about FEMA? It worked very well under Clinton, did it not? Better than under anyone before him, and his concern for people that have REAL problems is a point in his favor. His work with the Clinton Foundation is further evidence of his commitment to the less fortunate. Not everyone likes that and I wonder if that self-interest isn’t a reason that some bash the Clintons for wrongs both exaggerated and fanciful.
I do not think you are helping anything by demonizing the Clintons. Obama will need their support in order to accomplish the many challenges we face as a Nation.
I’m glad that he is aware of this and not above looking to them for help. I can’t help but think he doesn’t “deserve” his supporters sometimes.
I very specifically tried to use language that wouldn’t demonize anyone. Rather, I have laid out facts from an administration of what was supposed to be a democratic president and looks more like the accomplishment of a moderate republican with serious corporate leanings.
Bill Clinton inherited a FEMA that worked under previous presidents. He just didn’t go out of his way to break something that already worked. I know first hand, because I was involved in the Hurricane Andrew Response, which while technically under Bill Clinton, was successful due to his predecessor’s policies.
I am simply one man with one vote and I am done excusing all the evidence of political dishonesty at best and down-right malfeasance at worst.
I appreciate your point of view, however, and wish you luck in supporting your candidate’s efforts.
James DeWitt did nothing, eh?
It looks like my candidate will be Obama. Who is yours?
I am sure James De Witt did a fine job and FEMA was a very well-run agency under his expert leadership, except I was talking about Hurricane Andrew, which was prior to Dewitt’s tenure.
Who was in charge at any given time really wasn’t my point, though. What I was getting at is that no presidency, whether for four years or eight, lives in a vacuum. It is affected by the policies preceding it long after then new president raises his right hand. It is can do damage long after that president is gone – like the repeal of the Glass Steagle Act and Telecommunications Deregulation and the Omnibus Crime Bill.
Barack is my candidate for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I believe it is time for a new generation to guide the ship of state.
I totally agree with this analysis! If more is made of this truth maybe the MSM will finally pick up on it. The DLC and their enthusiasts have hoodwinked the Democratic party far too long. Disconcerting to read from some, elsewhere, that Obama is “just like all the rest” merely because he has fundraising functions for Very Rich People (i.e. SanFransisco). Since he doesn’t allow corporate money, he needs the Very Rich to help fill some deep pockets for the upcoming Big Fight against the swift boaters. Which is a lot different than the ways and means of the Clintons – the way the were, the way they are, and the way they will always be.
Enough of the Clinton’s self-indulgences und their inability to quit all the lying, their eternal falsehoods, whether big or small.
i just couldn’t read and not respond to this–i thoroughly enjoyed your article. i too have been known to get carried away in my other blogs and this article brings it all home. we need to have clean discussions unclouded by fanaticism. to do anything less will prove to be a disservice to either candidates.
i was for obama yesterday and i am for obama today because i truly believe he is our best chance for something other than the same ole same ole.
thanks again for your analysis of the bill c years. a day when we can agree or agree to disagree and still maintain some level of dignity is what i expect from obama. so far, he has not let me down and i have no reason to believe that he will change spots overnight. in the tightest of spots, he remains what he is OBAMA.
What I find this post leaves out is a historical perspective. Look at the years leading up to Bill’s election. You had Carter, our most prescient president asking for a much needed sacrifice that the public was unwilling to make. Kennedy fought him for reelection right up to the convention, even to the point of asking that the rule binding pledged delegates to vote as pledged on the first ballot be overturned. Kennedy’s bid that year was not nearly as viable as Hillary’s and after his loss of that vote he had the rule binding delegates on the first ballot changed.
American had over 50 hostages in Iran for over a year, blowback from the CIA overthrow of Mossedegh, which Carter got blamed for.
Reagan won and the first thing he did was remove Carter’s solar panels from the white house. He presided over the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin wall. The result of years of struggle that Reagan got credit for.
Bush went on to fight a successful war over Kuwait and lowered gas prices. To the American public it seemed as if republican policies were working and democratic policies were failing. Republicans seemed like “morning in america” while democrats and Carter’s legacy seemed like pessimism, as so often realism does.
It was a miracle that Clinton even beat Bush. I believe a part of that was that Bush promised not tax hikes but because of the deficit he achieved a compromise that included them. The other part was the Perot candidacy. Yet even so I doubt Clinton’s nearest competitors, Tsongas and Brown, could have won against Bush.
Clinton ran on greater services to the poor devastated by the Reagan policies and a tax cut to middle Americans. When he got into office he couldn’t afford both so he appealed to Americans better nature, asked for sacrifice for the poor and asked the public to forgo the tax cut. Does this sound Republican to you?
He attempted to end discrimination against gays in the military and was fought tooth and nail by Colin Powell. This is a republican? The same Colin Powell that some obama supporters are advocating as a vp for their man. Bipartisanship be damned, I want none of it! I am a liberal, mostly, and proud of it.
He cut military spending to pay for social programs. This is your neocon?
Clinton was rewarded for his liberal stances the same way Carter was rewarded for his prescient understanding of the energy crisis and Bush was rewarded for understanding that the Reagan deficits could not continue. Democrats lost the congress in the mid terms.
Republicans ran on welfare reform and tax cuts. Welfare reform was coming, it was inevitable. Bill had a choice of being part of the solution and mitigating some of the worst parts of the reform or attempting to obstruct it. I remember him vetoing the welfare bill a couple of times before he signed it.
What do you think would have happened if he had successfully stopped welfare reform? Imo he would have lost reelection and the republican congress with a republican president would have given us a much worse bill.
Coming from a disadvantaged family Clinton understood the plight of the poor and constantly fought the republican congress over poverty related issues. Under his leadership headstart funding went from 2.8 to 6.3 billion. Child care assistance went from 4.5 to 12.6 billion. Clinton passed the Earned Income Tax Credit. While at the same time getting control of the totally out of control spending of the Reagan years and finally producing a several billion dollar surplus.
He passed gun control legislation, which I personally disagree with, but it is a core liberal issue. He, with Hillary, attempted to get universal health coverage. I no more fault her for that failure than I fault Carter for the failure of his plan to deal with the energy crisis. The public just wasn’t ready for either at the time they were offered. Things have changed on both fronts now. The public finally sees the problem that these more prescient politicians saw so much earlier.
In every war there are times when it just not possible to advance. Sometimes its necessary to retreat on some fronts, make small advances on others, and just hold territory. Clinton’s years was that time. He was able to hold the presidency for 8 years and that was a major accomplishment when the public thought the republicans had good ideas and plans. I didn’t agree with all his positions but I agreed with many. He compromised when he had to and pushed as far forward as was possible.
Imo Hillary is much more progressive than Bill and more progressive than Obama. At a time when people are beginning to awaken to some realities of the situation we are in, ready to accept more then incremental changes, and with a democratic controlled congress things can be much different now. Its simplistic to judge a person without looking at the context of the time and the history leading up to it.
I agree with your analysis, oceankat. Given the historical context, Bill Clinton did about as well as he could. He couldn’t just send his sweeping agenda to Congress and give them 100 days to ratify it. He got what he thought was the best deal available.
Bill has to get a great deal of credit for the economic boom of the 1990s. We’ve seen what a Republican Congress can do with Bill Clinton in the White House and with George W Bush in the White House. There’s a big difference – W contributed major negatives to the difference, and Bill major positives.
We should pause a moment and imagine time running backward for a bit of perspective. When we went past W’s inauguration, we would all break into rapturous applause because suddenly we would know what life was like with a president who wasn’t wrecking the country and the planet by enacting the conservative agenda that W did enact. The majority in Congress had aspirations to enact many of the Bush disasters in the 1990s. Bill was president, and the disasters were moderated or delayed.
However, we would also see that Bill and Hillary made themselves weaker than they had to be. Bill weakened himself and hurt Democrats through private misbehavior. Hillary’s approach to healthcare reform alienated other Democrats and achieved nothing. Hillary deserves some praise for the attempt, but the execution hurt the cause of healthcare reform.
The closed process Hillary chose also made it easier for Dick Cheney to defend his obscene secret oil policy task force. Hillary set the precedent for excluding the public and Congress from major policy deliberations affecting the whole nation. That is troubling.
The biggest failure of the Clinton years was the inability to elect working Democratic majorities in Congress. That stopped major Democratic policy initiatives in their tracks. There have been great presidents who could outline ambitious programs, capture the public imagination, and provide their own majorities. Bill’s a great speaker in his way, but it’s not a way that builds majorities.
oceancat, I agree with your insistence on taking into account all relevant factors.
I agree that the Clintons worked in difficult times and faced formidable barriers and adversaries.
I’m sure they did what they thought best. Don’t we all? I don’t condemn the Clintons, or anyone else, for failing to do better than they do — “better” as I see it, of course.
I’ve never paid much attention to Hillary, even during these primaries. I try to keep up with one thing and another, of course, and that gives her some of my attention. But I reserve the rest to what I think really matters. And I’ve never thought Hillary has ever really mattered. Even if she were to win the nomination and the presidency, I don’t think she would really matter.
My first impression of Bill, way back when he was running in the primaries, was that of a lightweight with a lightweight’s chance of knocking out a heavyweight: the heavyweight being not his political adversaries but the political challenges he would face should he become president. I’ve seen nothing since then to revisit that first impression.
I think his winning a second term may have been his greatest political achievement, but such an achievement means nothing in and of itself. And I don’t know if it was even a good thing. I wouldn’t simply assume as much. I’m way out to the left, politically, but I could make a case for a Dole presidency as one which would have better suited the times. It might have steered the Republican Party away from its rush to self-destruction — taking the country with it — and strengthened some of the classically conservative values to which not even I choose to object strongly. It might have pre-empted the later rise of neocons. It might have pre-empted Bush the Lesser.
Clinton did little to serve the left during either of his terms. Like Blair in the UK, like leftist politicians throughout the first world in the past forty years, he didn’t have a viable alternative to neo-classical or neo-liberal economics. If a leftist leader knows of nothing better to offer a population than tinkered-with neo-classical or neo-liberal economics, much or most of any truly leftist programme never sees the light of day. Economics has been, and remains, the Achilles heal of the left in these countries.
I am very much for Obama. I have to go back to FDR and to the thirties to find possible comparisons of leaders and circumstances. Obama has a long way to go before he can be compared to FDR in his later years. But in his earlier years FDR, too, was but a wish and a promise.
Interesting take on a possible Dole presidency. I can see your point. It might be true, though there’s no telling how the Gingrich contract with america might have pushed him.
I know Clinton wasn’t a progressive but calling him a republican and a neocon is just over the top. I see Obama as another Clinton. A centrist that maybe leans a bit left. Too green for the job. Inexperienced but smart, a lightweight who is not really prepared for the resistance he’s about to face. Naive if he believes the bipartisanship rhetoric he espouses and not a candidate I can support. Compromise was necessary during Bill’s tenure, now is the time to push ahead liberal policies. I don’t want them watered down with any but the most necessary bipartisanship. Its hard for me to see him as a young FDR in any way.
oceancat: “Its hard for me to see him as a young FDR in any way.”
Like I said, it’s still early in the game.
Note: This is FreeBubba posting with my old nick because the new one isn’t working today. Love the TPM blogger software …
PS: You’ll notice that I ended my definition of Clinton and the DLC as being neolibs or the other side of the neocon corporate coin. The record supports that definition.
My entire piece addressed the historical perspective of the Clinton administration and how its policies reflect the larger trend of right-ward corporate rule that started under Reagan. There is a reason why Alan Greenspan said of Clinton,
>”I thought Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we’ve had in a while.”
Bill Clinton wasn’t a progressive president. Further, he never claimed to be. Everything I spoke of in my post, Bill Clinton has been happy to take credit for as successes. The hubris of the man is incredible. He truly thinks we are morons or more likely doesn’t think of us at all.
Carter was unable to get the sacrifice needed from the American people for a number of reasons, most of which outside of his control and very much the direct result of the blow-back you mentioned. However, Obama is not Carter and has seemed to have found a language that appeals to a wide swath of the electorate. One can’t discount charisma in the pursuit of grand, national goals.
Reagan, like Clinton, was the beneficiary of decades of struggle. In Reagan’s case it was the culmination of the Cold War, in Clinton’s the Dot Com Boom. Neither president had all that much to do with either circumstance except to not screw it up too badly. I hesitate to give a single president too much credit for events that are far outside their direct influence. Bill Gates is far more responsible for the economic good times of the 1990s than Bill Clinton. The surplus came from sticking it to the American worker and shifting huge amounts of capital to the very top of the income ladder as labor costs lowered and productivity soared.
The only reason Clinton beat Daddy Bush was Ross Perot. He ran on a centrist, DLC triangulation policy of building up all business interests while tossing scraps to the poor, while signing legislation that actually made their lives demonstrably worse. He put up fake fights to appease the masses and then gave China Most Favored Nation trading status, thus ensuring the demise of a huge portion of the middle class you say he championed and understood. Welfare “reform” is just one of many examples that off-set any good will he might have made with the Earned Income tax Credit or Head Start funding.
He didn’t cut military spending by any appreciable amount. I served for the entire length of Clinton’s presidency and we weren’t going without. I had all the coolest toys money could buy. True, we were closing a lot of bases and decommissioning older ships and planes, so there were some savings there, but Bill Clinton was every bit the friend of defense contractors as any republican before or since.
We’ll never know what would have happened had Bill Clinton stood on progressive principles rather than DLC compromise. We’ll never know what would have happened had he used his noted gift of charm and charisma to inspire the nation to hold Congress accountable rather than charm the pants off White House interns. We’ll never know because that wasn’t Bill Clinton’s presidency, no matter how we wish it were otherwise.
How can you not fault Hillary for her disastrous strategy to get health care reform passed? She alienated members of her own party. She let the insurance companies define the conversation. Like her husband, she did things behind closed doors, in concert with special interests and didn’t inspire the public to support the initiative. She couldn’t get national health care passed in a democratic Congress with a democratic president. That is piss poor performance and I don’t care what your last name is.
Bill Clinton wasn’t a progressive, so saying Hillary is more progressive doesn’t mean much to me.
However, I take exception to the notion that she is somehow more progressive than Barack Obama. one only has to go to http://thomas.loc.gov and look the bills they have sponsored into law. Barack’s record in just three years is far more progressive and far more substantive. He championed very progressive legislation through in a bitterly partisan environment as a junior senator from a medium-sized state. Laws that focused on important, progressive issues such as governmental transparency, ethics reform and nuclear non-proliferation. His success if a credit to his talent and his character and is most likely why Barack is winning this nomination race.
I have looked up Hillary’s record from seven years in the senate and couldn’t find any bills that had managed to make it into law that dealt with any core issues for our country. She has nibbled around the edges of problems, but I can’t find a single law that I would consider substantive or relevant to a majority of Americans.
What will it take to get Clinton supporters to hold them accountable for their actions and the results of those actions?
As jr. senators in the minority party both Hillary and Obama have slim legislative success. But Hillary’s is more substantial then Obama’s. There’s numerous articles but this one is pretty clear and from a respected site.
I agree that Bill wasn’t a progressive but a centrist with progressive leanings. He was clearly not a republican or a neocon. Yes his reductions in military spending was small but it was a reduction none the less.
True no president can take full credit or blame for the success or failure of the economy. But if you look at the republicans before and after him there are very clear differences. Carter’s average deficits were about 20 billion. Reagan’s deficits went to almost 300 billion. Bush the first to over 350 billion. Clinton got us back to a budget surplus. Poverty among americans under 18 was 16.4% before Reagan took office. When Clinton took office it was up to 22.7%. When he left office it was back down to 16.2%. You claim none of this had anything to do with who was president?
Again I ask you. If not Clinton then who? Tsongas? Brown? Do you really think Brown could have won? Would 4 more years of Bush the first been better? The country had shifted right. That pushed a centrist politician even farther right than was his bent. What do you think welfare reform would have looked like with a Gingrich congress and a republican president?
Lastly. I just will never get this idea that obama will inspire the country in the pursuit of grand, national goals. He has not been able to inspire half the democratic primary voters. That is by far his most receptive audience. Its still likely at this late date with little chance of winning the nomination that Hillary will win PA. Obviously Obama has been unable to inspire more than half the primary voters in PA to abandon a losing candidate. And you think he will inspire the nation? Get real.
I love the underlying condescension that seems to permeate Clinton supporters posts. No matter how far out of my way I go to remain objective and impersonal, they always manage to drag it in to the personal.
“Get real” indeed.
I am not even going to spend one more second debunking the obviously biased post above. Needless to say you did not actually respond to what I wrote but tried to change the definition of what “is” is. Figures. Most people here seem to very clearly understand what I wrote and happen to agree. One outliers does not a poll shift make.
However, here’s a couple questions for you: If Barack is so noninspirational how did he come from no where to almost beating the most powerful democratic party machine in many decades? If Hillary is so much more qualified and Bill was such a bang-up president, why isn’t she blowing him out of the water? Why has he been able to out-raise Hillary and McCain combined without taking PAC or lobbyist money? How does an unknown black man from a medium-sized state in the middle of the country do that unless he has something special that many Americans must be seeing?
Why do you hate progress?
I prefer your overt condescension, Jason. Makes my job much easier. Accusing people of condescension is not “going out of your way to remain objective.” Either you are a troll or you can’t support your argument when you are challenged in the least. Not to mention you weren’t “objective” to begin with. Another word for you to learn the meaning of. The homework is piling up, isn’t it?
It was just a suggestion. Clearly you won’t get real.
And thus you reveal your bias. I thought this had nothing to do with Hillary. Ah, but of course it does.
oceankat was being unnecessarily charitable with you. I think you might be a troll after a sentence like that.
Oops, you just gulped a big glass of Kool-Aid.
You perfectly illustrate my point without me having to add anything.
We’ve had a lot of trolls lately. Go away or do a better job.
“I prefer your overt condescension, Jason. Makes my job much easier.”
Your job is to match your nick with your rhetoric: change it to worngasket.
If you change yours to just “Bubba,” I’ll consider it.
No, you go first!
(Note: This is FreeBubba posting with my old nick because TPM software doesn’t seem to like my new one today.)
You go, boy! 🙂
One objection: “Bill Gates is far more responsible for the economic good times of the 1990s than Bill Clinton.”
Neither of them are the least bit responsible for those economic good times. Quite the contrary.
The economic good times happened in spite of Bill Clinton and Bill Gates. You’re already clarifying Clinton, so I’ll leave him to you.
As for Gates, he is one of the most successful monopolists in the history of the world. Imagine what might have been without Gates doing his utmost to monopolise as much as he could of the software, hardware and Internet industries. And, of course, he’s still at it.
When you see a single individual amass such wealth, realise that you are not looking at someone who has produced, or has been responsible for the production of, anything remotely comparable to that wealth.
Some individuals are capable of tremendous wealth production and/or enabling many, many others to produce wealth. But none, even of these, are capable, on their own, without the assistance of many, many others, of producing vast amounts of wealth.
Vast wealth in the hands of single individuals is almost entirely unearned. It is amassed. And it is amassed only in an economic system that allows, or even favours, monopoly.
Monopoly includes the disproportionate, unethical use of copyrights and patents.
There’s nothing “natural” about a monopoly. There’s no reason monopoly need play any role whatsoever in economics. Where it does, it is after being written into legislation at the behest of the special interests who want to gain by it. Their gain is everybody else’s loss.
Why do the few get richer and richer while the rest get poorer and poorer?
Bill Gates was simply a metaphor for the technology revolution that produced the enormous wealth of the 1990s.
I suppose you could just as easily add Steve Case to the list and Steve Jobs and all the other early pioneers of information technology and computing. The revolution they began in the 1980s led to the prosperity of the 1990s in large part.
I agree with your main premise (and would guess many obscenely wealthy people do as well) that Bill Gates could have done things much differently. Perhaps the Open Source community could have pursued their current strategies much earlier with the proper leadership and could have been more competitive, but that doesn’t really change the fact the information technology and the productivity gains it provided is what led to Bill’s “booming economy” and is directly responsible for the rose-colored view most have of his presidency.
Good points, though. How different might things of been had Bill been a true progressive in the Teddy Roosevelt model and charted a different path in the 1990s that would have led to Al Gore’s election and a totally different first decade of the 21st century.
As much as people hate to admit it, I blame Bill for Baby Bush.
Bill Gates as metaphor — I can have that.
I also enjoyed your reply to oceancat.
When you have the inclination to discover a sane economics, do follow the link I provided to Henry George’s Progress and Poverty. There’s also an on-line course based on the book for all of $10.00.
The left is going to get nowhere fast, and nowhere with any stability, in the absence of an alternative to neo-classical and neo-liberal economics. And George is it.
I have been reading these comments with interest and now I must respond to yours.
I want to clarify the “gays in the military issue.” First, Clinton did not need to promise the gay community that he would end the discrimination in the military. Except for the fringe Log Cabin Republicans (who by now have abandoned Bush) the entire gay community supported Clinton, if for no other reason, by default. My point is that he did not need to woo them with his promise to end the discrimination in the military.
Second, having been a governor as well as an attorney I am certain that Clinton knew that the issue came under the auspices of “Executive Orders.” What that means is that the President declares a policy and it is almost beyond challenge. In the Constitutional scheme of things, we have the (original) Articles, the Amendments, Federal Law made by Congress (and signed into law by the President), Executive Orders, then state laws. Executive Orders trump state laws!
What this means is two things: a) Clinton disingenuously promised to make a change that he lacked the courage and fortitude to carry out. In the year between his campaign and his Presidency, it cannot be argued that some significant change in social attitudes occurred. It was an equally unpopular idea in 1992 as it was in 1993; and b) Clinton had all the authority he needed to simply create the Executive Order that gays could no longer be discriminated against in the military. I wonder sometimes if people understand this point- NO ONE could have overruled him had he made that decision.
If you check the record you will find that there was plenty of opposition to Truman when he integrated the military for blacks in the early 1950’s. Clinton could very simply had said, “Thank all of you for your input. However, I made a promise during my campaign because it was the right thing to do, it is still the right thing to do, so I am ordering that gays can no longer be discriminated against in the military. And that would have been the end of the discussion.
Had Clinton had that kind of character and integrity who knows if by now, the entire specious gays and marriage issue could never have been used as a bludgeon to keep the red state voters in line, even at the expense of their own personal interests.
I do not want to take the time to take on every point that you brought up, but I have to agree with Jason Everett Miller. Clinton was a shameful example of a democratic president.
And watching the way both the Clintons seem willing to tear down the first truly inspired candidate the left has produced since Bobby Kennedy makes it clear that both of the Clintons place their self interests above the good of the country and the Democratic Party.
This time that Obama is required to fight them off is valuable time wasted. He needs to be out there campaigning for the down ticket Congress People and Senators to ensure that we get him into office with a veto proof and filibuster proof House and Senate so that he can use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to enact the progressive agenda that we all want completed.
Please do not take this personally. I have no issue with your assessment being different than mine. I just happen to agree with Jason Everett Miller.
And we certainly do not need to let the Clintons back into the White House.
Nice post Jason Everett Miller. Keep them coming.
David R. Wilbur, Esq. (I have posted both my name and email address in the past)
Thanks for the kind words, David. Having served in Clinton’s Navy for most of my ten years on active duty, I can attest that how you portray the “gays in the military” issue is exactly correct.
In fact, most of us knew exactly who was gay and the majority of us had no problem with it. Bill Clinton could have easily handled the issue in the manner you outlined and it would have been a done deal. Just like Truman did with integration. Everyone said it would be a huge disaster and never work. It did and quicker than most would have guessed. Same with all the other executive department revolutions Clinton could have waged but never did.
I am glad that I am not the only progressive with higher standards than the Clintons have ever been able to meet.
Thanks, David, for debunking this, too.
too much complaining about Bill Clinton.
don’t forget, he’s the only Dem. candidate who kept those right-wing religious extremists out of the white house.
don’t say he is just another “republican”; think of social issues- abortion, etc.
sure, Clinton was not the ideal prez, but a great deal better than what we have put up with since he left office.
As Gore Vidal put it- better to have oral sex in the oval office than Oral Roberts.
He may have kept them out of the White House, but he did open the door for greater encroachment on a variety of issues, if I had the time at this moment i would locate some fine dissertations on this subject I found while researching the genesis of this problem a few years ago.
If you go to Findlaw and search their articles, I think you will find the articles I am referring to, I cannot think of the woman’s name – she is an authority on church and state and constitutional law and her articles had to do with tax code and some of the abuses churches and religious organizations have managed, in part due to changes that Bill petitioned for.
inedal, it occurred to me yesterday that Bob Dole might have done a better job than Clinton of keeping “those right-wing religious extremists out of the white house.” The more I reflect on this, the more I’m convinced of it.
Help: TPM staff publishes only a few lines of my blogs
I tried unsuccessfully four times to get TPM staff to address the problem I’m having with my blogs. Only a few lines of them get published, and when a MORE hyperlink does appear, it goes back to the few lines. I can never get to the entire piece in each blog. This was especially vexing when I achieved Recommended Reader Blog status and notified all my friends and relatives.
In frustration, I’m putting this notice up in every conceivable spot at TPM that I can. Help! I’m trapped in TPM Hell. User name: johnhughmcfadden; email: email@example.com
Actual Clinton supporter comment from HuffPo:
“I can tell you, as a Hillary suppoter, I have NO problem with her Colombian $$$$$$$. I don’t care if that stupid rumor is true that they killed a lot of peoplebeginning with Foster. I don’t care who they sleep with, who does their hair, or how priviledged they are now. She can do all the things this guy says she can. Restoring our good rep, our economy and narrowing the gap. She can do it, because she has the experience to do it. That’s simply all I care about. I don’t want to be united with anybody. I don’t give a rat’s ass about racism. I don’t want unspecified change, just for the sake of change. All I want is the country/world the Clintons left us with in 2001.”
Unfortunately, I still need to be convinced that the broad base of support for Sen. Clinton does not consist of people who think along these lines.
Bill will NOT be back in the White House. Neither he, nor his wife have any idea of what to do with a bad economy.
I hate to be a concern troll, but I’m pretty saddened by this…
What to do with a bad economy?
don’t forget, he’s the only Dem. candidate who kept those right-wing religious extremists out of the white house.
Unfortunately, it was on his watch that the right-wing religious extremists took control of both Houses of Congress.
Thanks for the great post, Jason. I’d just add that the Clintons failed to get health care through a Democratic Congress. Bill Clinton also personally intervened to prevent the UN Security Council from taking action to stop the genocide in Rwanda.
Not that he wasn’t a hell of a lot better than the President who followed him. But “better than George W. Bush” is setting the bar too low.
Isn’t Billy Graham Hillary’s spiritual advisor?
I read it somewhere but I don’t know if its Sr. or Jr… but wasn’t Jr. the one who said something to the effect ‘New Orleans deserved it’?
You know, I was recently thinking about this and I came to this conclusion that I shared with a friend of mine that works for MOVEON and now I’ll share with the rest of you. I believe that the Clinton’s only principle has been to winning. It may be that they feel that the only way to affect change is if you’ve won the office, but the sad part about that is that they have shown that they will under-cut any idealism that they may have by subjugating it to a do anything-to-win mentality. Beyond that, I feel as though Bill has always desired for power to satiate his lust for attention, while Hillary has desired attention to satiate her lust for power. In this way, I think this is why they’ve always put up with one-another.
Why was MoveOn started?
Do you remember? I do, I was among the first few thousand of their members.
This is actually quite ironic.
Excellent post and replies, Jason. I look forward to your reply to oceankat.
Great post. I am saving it.
Never understood the awe Clinton produces. What about Kyoto, Don’t ask don’t tell…? Real progress, change and social advancement he brought us!!
An amazingly stupid post.
If Clinton was a “neocon,” why didn’t he enact the Bush tax cuts?
The Republican Congress tried to get them passed year after year.
The Republicans understood how dangerous Clinton was, why do you think they hated him so much? He co-opted many of their issues and stopped much of their lunacy (including Star Wars, which any technically literate person knows is a fairy tale). The Republicans knew that if the Clintons succeeded in reforming healthcare, they’d be in opposition for the next 20 years, that’s why they conspired to destroy it. There is documentary evidence of this, e.g. memos from Bill Kristol at the time.
What a shallow stupid posting.
We’ll see what your hero Obama does in the WH. My bet is, his first action will be to issue pardons all around to members of the Bush administration, in the interests of “post-partisanship.” We’ll never find out half of what’s been going on the last 8 years. For example, I’m pretty sure everyone posting here is being monitored and files kept of blogs visited etc. They log your IP address and the ISPs map that IP address back to your identity. You didn’t really think you were anonymous, did you? I only wonder if they share this information with employers yet. Probably depends on the employer.
Obama the fascist, thats a new one. Didn’t Hillary vote for military action in Iraq AND to declare the Iranian military a terrorist organization… seems she’s been fullfilling Bush’s wish list faster than he can write it.
Thanks for the considerate and intelligent response. “An amazingly stupid post.” I couldn’t agree more, though you weren’t speaking of your reply. No wonder the political dialog in this country is somewhere between the rim of the toilet and the sewage treatment plant.
Bill Clinton co-opted republican ideas and then put them into practice. You make my point for me.
He didn’t need to pass tax cuts or pursue Star Wars. He built the Seawolf Class submarine instead, which was completely useless for tomorrow’s conflicts and a total hand-out to Northrup Grumman, et. al. He let the richest Americans in charge of our biggest corporations ship the majority of our manufacturing capacity overseas thus sending millions of middle class workers with one job to a life of two or three jobs just to keep their heads above water.
Health care failed because the Clinton’s have failed at every progressive thing they have ever attempted. It’s because they aren’t progressives. They couldn’t get health care passed in a democratically controlled Congress with a democrat in the Oval Office. Yes, give me have more of that incompetent leadership that leaves the country worse off than if they had never attempted it in the first place.
I post under my own name so I never relied on being anonymous – that’s why I try to be reasonable instead.
Barack is not a hero, nor do we require a hero. He is the smartest cat in the room, though, which is a nice change from the past seven years. Barack is a true progressive leader who started his career at the grass roots as a talented nobody and proceeded to build a resume that shows true progressive values, the character to make the right choices based on those values and the courage to follow through on those decisions.
We haven’t had the chance to choose someone like that for president in a long, long time. I, for one, am not going to miss my chance to help nudge America in the right direction. I am also not going to simply fade away when the election is over and Barack is in the Oval Office. Nor would he want me to. It is our duty to final pick up the mantel of Constitutional responsibility that we have neglected for every bit as long as our elected officials have let their duties slide.
It is time for the entire country to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Electing Barack Obama is only a catalyst for change and most of his supporters I read and talk to feel the same way.
Jason: “It is our duty to final pick up the mantel of Constitutional responsibility that we have neglected for every bit as long as our elected officials have let their duties slide.
“It is time for the entire country to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Electing Barack Obama is only a catalyst for change and most of his supporters I read and talk to feel the same way.”
Exactly. This is indeed where the rubber will meet the road.
Telecom deregulation also happened. Across-the-board deregulation is very neo-conservative.
“I have to go back to FDR and to the thirties to find possible comparisons of leaders and circumstances.”
I agree, the infrastructure bank Obama supports could be used in a WPA kind of way, I think people would rather earn a paycheck than collect a welfare or unemployment check.
We may need to spend our way out of the economic ditch. I’d rather we spent it on roads, bridges and new schools than financial bailout schemes.
There’s no such thing as “deregulation,” which means “freeing from regulation.” That would mean no rules, and markets without rules don’t work.
There is only changing regulations. And the biggest changes Clinton helped make were in the direction of eliminating FDR’s anti-monopoly regulations so that the current crop of monopolists could have a field day. (See my other post in this thread about Bill Gates.)
I concur with your premise that Bill Clinton did not pursue an adequately progressive agenda during his two administrations, but I also believe his performance has to be viewed within the context of the time and within the limitations of his own rhetorical abilities.
I was among millions of Democrats who celebrated Clinton’s election in 1992, relieved that we’d finally loosened the GOP stranglehold on the presidency. Despite all the Republican propaganda demonizing “liberal” control of Congress and the bureaucracy, in truth Liberals, or progressives had not held majorities in Congress since FDR, and even the grand New Dealer’s hold on Congress was tenuous.
Conservative, Southern Democrats, be they called Yellow Dog Democrats, Dixiecrats, Boll Weevils, or most recently, Blue Dog Democrats, have for over a century exercised preternatural sway over the party, with their influence only now beginning to wane. Although we lament the Nixon development of the “southern strategy” and Reagan’s subsequent exploitation of it, as progressives we should be grateful, for it has at last purged the Democratic Party of the most reactionary, right-wing, racist southerners who now gravitate to the GOP.
Before being too critical of Bill Clinton it should be remembered that he is a product of the south and had to navigate a very narrow path to achieve any kind of progressive agenda in Arkansas. I believe he mastered the ability to deflect the most extreme aspects of the right-wing social agenda by assimilating some of its less offensive policies into a strategy to affect incremental, yet substantive change. What he, and all Democrats faced on the national level was a similar dominance of conservative, right-wing dogma, and he sought to combat it with the same skills and methods he employed in Arkansas.
As for your specific criticisms of Bill Clinton and his administration, you are correct in linking him to neo-liberal policies that glorify an unbridled, free-market economy. I do believe he fully embraces the free market and naturally opposes market regulation. Certainly his support of NAFTA, CAFTA, and granting China “Most Favored Nation” status or “Normal Trade Relations” are primary examples of his fundamental preference for the theories of Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, which are diametrically opposed to progressive economic theory.
Yet his position on progressive social issues contrasts with his economic views. Clearly, he’s defended a woman’s right to choose, endeavored to promote civil rights, and has been strongly supportive of environmental protection.
However, I also concede that he’s been a far stronger advocate of neo-liberal economic policies than of progressive social policies. During his administrations I found myself frustrated when he’d give up the fight on important issues after initial setbacks. The Hillary led health care reform package comes immediately to mind, as does his brokering the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that emerged from his failure to end discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military. Add to that the Defense of Marriage Act and his failure to aggressively promote the Kyoto agreement.
Like you, Jason, I’m an avid supporter of Senator Barack Obama. I believe he represents a unique opportunity to change our nation’s course by appealing to our common interests instead of belaboring our differences.
A large part of Bill Clinton’s appeal was his appearance of genuine empathy – his ability to convince people that he felt and shared their pain. Barack’s appeal is more symbiotic, recognizing our diverse interests while stressing the mutual benefits of working together.
Might I add to your list of shortcomings of the Clinton administration his having shortchanged investment in critical infrastructure in his pursuit of a balanced budget, and the fact that although 21 million jobs were added during his years in the White House, the overwhelming majority were in the service sector resulting in millions of workers who’d lost high paying manufacturing jobs left scrambling to juggle two or more service jobs that combined failed to provide equivalent earnings and/or benefits. Granted, even that record so outshines Bush’s achievements that it’s hard to be too critical.
Excellent post, Ron.
Ron, that last point you make is a huge deal. We have been short-changing infrastructure investments for decades, not just under Baby Bush.
I guess my biggest problem with having a democratic president who governs so far to the right on most bread and butter issues (not counting the social issue) is the detrimental effect it has on the other priorities.
As soon as our national objectives were tied to the bottom-line of Corporate America, not amount of of good will on social issues makes a bit of difference. The money just isn’t there. Or, rather, the money may still be there, but now the need is so much greater than the available funds.
I think we can do this better and that is why Barack has my vote and my support.
This was an excellent post, particularly in its description of the Clinton era. Many of us felt this way as the 90s were going down and loudly said so, but we had very little say in the Democratic Party or went independent (yes, some even supported Nader in 2000 for these very reasons). As a footnote, I’d like to point out one very minor thing though; 1992 exit polls across the country showed consistently that Bill Clinton was the second choice of more Perot voters than GHW Bush was. Although it is often repeated, the idea that Perot helped Clinton win is not borne out by the most accurately researched facts, which indicate the opposite, without Perot in the race it was Bush who would have lost by an even larger margin, and Clinton would have won an official majority of the vote (gone over the 50% threshold).
“Again, this bill of Bill’s had a decidedly republican way of “solving” crime – assume that everyone is a criminal and act accordingly. This is the basis of his ridiculous 400,000 new cops on the street.”
You should ask people living in inner cities if they want more cops on the street, and if having more police helps keep them safe.
Are education and jobs important for stopping crime? Absolutely. But a cop on the corner keeps a neighborhood that much safer from gangs and violence.
People in Baghdad probably think so, too.
I live in the inner city and whatever additional cops hit the streets were quite overwhelmed by the consequences of other administration policies. Crime hasn’t decreased appreciably because how we fight the conditions that lead to crime hasn’t changed.
A cop on the corner may keep that corner tame but he doesn’t change the neighborhood. A cop on the corner doesn’t pick up trash or clean graffiti off buildings. A cop on the corner doesn’t help more kids graduate from high school and off the streets.
The “cop on the corner” mentality is similar to how we treat health care – we treat symptoms because it is more economically advantageous to a small portion of society than the actual cure would be.
Jason, with all due respect, before you can accuse Bill Clinton of being a neocon, you need to read up on what a neocon is. Start with Wiki:
Dick Cheney is a neocon.
Also, Barack Obama is not a progressive; but Dennis Kucinich is.
Maybe you are redefining terms which have a much longer history than the one you present (dating all the way back to Carter)? If so, please define your terminology for your readers. Thanks.
I called Bill Clinton a neolib, the bright and shiny alter-ego of neocons. He “feels your pain” but doesn’t really care nor is he going to pursue policies top alleviate it. Neolibs pursue a corporate agenda and toss liberal bones to keep the masses pacified.
Similarly, the neocons pursue a corporate agenda and throw ultra-conservative bones to their side. They don’t really care about gay marriage or gun rights, but those issues help deregulate industry and pass tax cuts for the wealthiest few.
It is the same cynical and regressive politics on both sides of the aisle.
Okay, so you’re dishonest. Hard to parse your words any differently:
In sum, you don’t know WTF you’re talking about.
Good to know about you. Thanks!
Had you bothered to read even a few inches further, you would have seen I amended that declaration with the term neolib. Either that, or you think that people won’t realize that you took your “quote” out of context or that I wouldn’t correct you. This sort of political chicanery isn’t helping.
Doesn’t matter, Jason. You wrote what you wrote. If you’re serious about writing, then every word counts. You were wrong to write it, as others have pointed out as well. If you can’t admit you made a mistake, then you’re no better than Hillary Clinton.
But besides being stubborn about your writing errors, I think you don’t really know what a neocons is. I think you use the word as if it’s a slur. So, I’m not impressed with your sloppiness about language. If you’re going to write about politics, then do all of the work, not just some of it.
No matter how often you try, it is impossible to obscure the fact that you are using tired methods of debate to cast doubt on judgments over actions that have no defense. Casting aspersions on this or that word is clearly the last resort of an inadequate debating style.
No matter how many semantical chimeras you choose to bring up, the simple fact of the matter is that neocons and neolibs are two sides of the same idealogical coin. The DLC and the RNC have waged a class war that has been enormously successful. Bill Clinton is a founding member of the DLC and its first successful candidate for national office. The DLC’s methods and aims are not classically liberal or progressive.
Call it what you want, but I call it as I see it.
Despite your opinion to the contrary, most of the comments on this blog have been favorable and have added nuance to the main discussion. Most liberals are interested in examining why so many of our policies never seem to be enacted, despite varying levels of control in government or occupation of the bully pulpit, which Clinton most certainly did.
The last real progressive democrat to sit in the Oval Office was Jimmy Carter. I think it is time for another, but one with greater gifts of persuasion and a more realistic plan on how to achieve new a national agenda.
It is time for Barack Obama.
ha! You are a troll!
What the heck are you talking about? How does anything I have to say paint me as a troll? You continue to make no sense at all.
Clinton isn’t a neocon. Being a neocon requires taking a position on something. Clinton(any clinton)go whichever way the wind(or Monica) blows. Whatever is politically expedient is alright by them. They are worse than neocons.
Don’t be foolish and believe Obama will save us. He won’t. Go read about the people he has surrounded himself with. Notice anything about their resumes? Go back and watch old clips of Bill Clinton running in 1992 and tell me if you hear anything familiar about “Change”.
100 years before Iraq it was The Philippines. American imperialism won’t end with one election or one politician. This car isn’t driven by anyone we vote for.
Bill was never a Democrat… he was Bill and he would take anything he could get… the man had no principles and stil doesn’t… and HRC is the same…..
While I have minor disagreements with a few of your points, I agree with your conclusion. Bill Clinton is a Republicrat and so is his wife. Her primary goal in her run for the White House (aside from vanity) is to preserve and extend the status quo that has made them so very, very wealthy. That means keeping corporations very much in our government and in our lives and using trade deals to enhance the bank accounts of their corporate friends while causing pain and misery in the lives of American workers. No pie-in-the-sky campaign promises will erase the fact that while Hillary campaigns against CAFTA, her husband and her campaign strategist work very hard behind the scenes to assure its passage.
They are triangulators and serial liars, and they have clearly demonstrated during this campaign season that they will say or do anything to get elected.
No spin will ever reconcile Hillary’s current stated position on Iraq with earlier statements like this:
Triangulating, triangulating. Forever triangulating…
The Clintons have never been worthy of our trust or our confidence. That so many have been hoodwinked is a sad commentary on the state of our nation.
Well said, hrebendorf.
Yes lets all trash Bill Clinton. What was it you did not like about his presidency? The Peace or the Prosperity? Don’t get off tangent, isn’t there a woman you can call a F*cking Wh*re today?
Better get with it or they will kick you out of the Obama campaign.
You’re giving Bill credit for things that happened during his presidency. And yes–let’s trash him. He deserves it.
One other point. I often hear people say that there’s really very little difference between Clinton and Obama when it comes to policy. Maybe so. But do we really know what Hillary’s policy positions are? She voted for the war. Now she’s against it. She opposed a withdrawal. Now she’s for it. She praised NAFTA during her husband’s time in office, praised Wal-Mart during her years as a corporate lawyer. Now she claims she didn’t.
I believe Hillary knows what Democratic voters want to hear, and she’s clearly willing to say anything in order to sway us. In the past, in attacking Obama, she has said that words are just words. For her, that’s clearly true.
Personally, I prefer to put my trust in a guy who knows that words are much more than just words, but only if you’re willing to stand by them.
This is the key question that prompted me to write this blog. Despite what the campaigns put out as their presidential priorities, who actually has a record of fighting for progressive ideals at all levels of government?
I grant that both candidate’s platforms are sufficiently progressive for me and will move this country in a great new direction. I just don’t trust Hillary to actually pursue that platform once in office. Her record on key progressive economic and foreign relations issues has been deplorable.
Barack, on the other hand, fought for progressive cause on the streets of Chicago for much longer than he has had to play the democrats game in Washington. For me, he gets a lot of wriggle room on votes because I know that you have to get elected before you can change anything. Part of getting elected is understanding the system and planning your strategy accordingly.
I actually think Barack is way more progressive than he can run this first time around. He’ll run be as liberal as Dennis Kucinich come re-election. And win all fifty states in the process. That’s when things will really get interesting.
Nice piece Mr Miller.
I am no fan of HRC anymore. Idefended bill during the 90s. But I agree in full light, his policies helped destroy us.
But I don’t think HRC’s bid to achieve universal healthcare failed in the 90s (I’m talking to you, 57andFemale). It never even got out of it’s crib. HRC’s unpopularity didn’t help….or her management style as you say. Heck, it wasn’t even what we consider universal healthcare, was it? It was a totally different terrain back then, and healthcare had only been corporate for about 10 years. Up until 1980, doctoring was still a profession, and yes – a business. But it wasn’t corporate, certainly not Nationwide Corporate or Global. And not nearly so buttoned down and ironclad Corporate as it is now.
The big medicine interests, the big insurance interests, and big pharma interests emerged from their cryogenic chambers (usually they were a very quiet, low-key special interest gang) and they STOMPED HRC back into her hidey hole. I like to think of them as The Grey Men. They were cementing their power over our HEALTH, getting us all on their hook. They were not going to let HRC’s ideas get off the ground. THE PEOPLE never got to speak on the subject, no coherent blueprint had been drawn up. Our participation was not desired by The Grey Men.
Clinton’s biggest failings in my book are bending over for the media consolidation, bending over for the pharma ad explosion on tv, NAFTA, and the utter failure to get a healthcare proposal off the ground. When their illfated stillborn health-idea collapsed, the resulting flashflood of insurers and corporate healthplans and pharmaceuticals just flattened the american public and put financial IVs in all of our arms, where the flow goes from us to them…drip drip drip. Sometimes all at once in one large dying gulp. Hell, they can bombard us all into Hypochondriacal quivering psychotics just with their commercials alone. Remember, Clintons health-thingy never addressed, loudly or publicly, what was needed. Taking Corporate and Insurance out of the equation and sidelining them. Making it ILLEGAL for moguls to decide your healthcare. But that was barely uttered. What we did hear, in a never ending avalanche was how efficient and better a corporation would be at managing a tricky, technical business like HEALTH.
The Grey Men
I cannot say this enough, because most of us are not at all conversant with how High Finance and Corporate Boardrooms work.
But you must go to http://www.theyrule.net and play with their toy. You click thru the initial flash intro. Then choose companies (or directors). They will pop out into the center of the screen. Then you see the directors for this company. The FATTER directors are involved with more companies/institutions than the SLIMMER ones. In 2 minutes you can draw a LOT of connections between each and every corporate power and see how they are all interwoven. Frightening, if you are capable of sensing the implications. And what we are up against.
DickTater, compliments for being willing to look straight in the face of a lot of ugly.
Just about everything you’ve described has to do with monopoly. Remember the board game of the same name? It was originally designed as an educational tool to promote the 19th century American economist, Henry George.
If you’d like to discover an economics that deals directly with monopoly as what it is — the greatest possible aberration in any economics system — start here:
Some fans of George: Leo Tolstoy; George Bernard Shaw; Samuel Clemens; Winston Churchill; Albert Einstein.
Thanks, Bubba. You added a couple of items I missed that are certainly part and parcel of my view of the Clinton presidency. We have certainly been under strict corporate control for at least the last 40 years, if not longer.
Ike had it right and we are now suffering the consequences of just not the Military Industrial Complex’s influence but the entire field of corporate interests. How can any government still be of, by and for the people in that environment?
Oops. This reply was for Dick Tater, though Bubba makes excellent points as well.
Love this post! Thanks.
That’s why I am supporting Obama. I know he’s the real progressive in this race because he’s laid the challenge on us. He’s asking us all to be partners in a revolution, to usher in a new renaissance. He could just promise us a bunch of stuff and say he’ll fight for us. Give an out. Leave it at that. Let us go on being socially and politically lazy. Instead, he has not. That’s why I voted for him during the primary, that’s why I donate money every month and that’s why I’ll vote for him in Nov.
Also, thanks for doing the research to place Bill Clinton as a neolib. I have been in a place of seeing him as a neocon enabler and sympathizer. Almost-already a neocon, if you will. Your dissection helped me to get clear.
Hi, Cricket, I am glad you were able to get something out of this post. I figured if these questions were bugging me that other people might be curious about the information I had found.
Barack’s call to action and sense of national purpose is also what really got my attention once my first choice candidate Dennis Kucinich dropped out. That Dennis had endorsed Barack in Iowa was a big deal as well. What also made me support him was his ability to actually accomplish some of these things that we all hold dear and have yet to see implemented.
How long do we have to wait for progressive change in this country? I think we have waited long enough.
Thanks FreeBubba, I have read up now on George’s early life and will finish is Life and Times.
I think Obama will appeal to independents and republicans. Is there any way that the clearer-thinking independents and repubs will really want a mcCain presidency? Reluctantly, not publicly, repubs and independents know in their heart that things are REAL BAD in this country, and we need someone who proposes cleaning it up rather than continuing the mess.
HRC just looks like such a Corporate Carpetbagger, I cannot see clear thinking independents and repubs thinking she would offer any change, and McCain is going out of his way to Stay the Course.
HRC is clearly holding back the wave of Obama support and momentum we should be capitalizing on. She is keeping McCain in the race. And her negatives are so high that McCain stands a real chance against her. The polls show McCain and Obama are real close right now, but that is because HRC is muddying the picture on the dems side. She is doing the country a disservice. I do not claim she MUST step down, but anyone who cared about the country would.
I am going to take a chance here by posting my email, which actually I did one time before when I offered to provide research to any reader who was interested in the topic we were discussing.
I would enjoy starting a dialogue with you Jason.
I am excited about the potential of we progressives getting together to be an active part of the change we see coming. I am getting increasingly excited about Obama’s potential as President. For example, for the last 8 year I have been thinking of merely protecting the Court from being taken over by Scalia et. al. Now I am getting a glimmer of the possibility to have some true leftists in the tradition of Brandeis and Brennen. Think what we could accomplish with a successful Obama presidency that paved the way for another progressive after him! Imagine 16 years-and think what that could do to the make up of the Court! (Among many other issues!)
David R. Wilbur, Esq.
I am so sorry to burst your bubble, or anyone’s bubble for that matter, but I’m a firm believer that the ‘truth sets us free’, but only if we act upon it.
I too am a progressive. I too have spent years doing my homework. I’m sorry to say Obama is just another neo-con/neo-lib pretending to be a ‘good democrat’. He like both Clintons is also owned by the Bilderberg Group. In 1991 Bill Clinton attended the Bilderberg Group meeting and promised Henry Kissinger he would sign NAFTA into law if he became president. Those were the magic words and he became the sanctioned candidate. The first thing he did when he got into the White House was sign NAFTA into law keeping his promise to the global elite.
Obama attended Bilderberg in Virginia this summer. I wonder what promise he made were he to become the sanctioned president???
Many people still have not figured out that via the Act of 1871, the US Government became the US GOVERNMENT CORPORATION. Washington DC has a completely different constitution than the one ‘we the people’ believe guides America. The constitution followed by “everyone” in Washington DC is the corporate constitution and not the American constitution. That’s the reason so much of what they do and get away with in Washington is at odds with the American constitution.
The Federal Reserve Act was passed in 1913 when most in congress were at home for Christmas vacation. That created the Federal Reserve, another PRIVATE CORPORATION that prints our money. The icing on the cake for the UNITED STATES CORPORATION came when FDR declared bankruptcy in 1933. That sealed the deal. From that moment on this county has been totally controlled by the Federal Reserve and the IMF. Rendering America to be no longer the free country our forefathers fought and died to give us.
There are currently only 2 candidates who are NOT owned by the PTB. They area Cynthia McKinney, running on the green party and Ralph Nader. Dennis Kucinich was another great candidate as was Ron Paul. These are the only 4 people with the courage to speak ‘truth to power’. Everyone else is already bought and paid for and will simply give us more of the same. This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Anyone who really wants to be part of the solution must be willing to become educated as painful as it is and come to see the big picture. There is no left/right paradigm at the top. It only exists among we the people at the bottom.