Last week there was a “columnist war” on the editorial pages of the New York Times about how mythologized the Reagan legacy has become (which has been turned on its head for a generation that wasn't there).
But Bill Clinton's presidency is getting whitewashed in a major way, too (distorted on both sides, actually), not the least by his wife and political accomplice, Hillary, who wants to hoodwink the American electorate into bringing the “good times” of the 90s back.
Booman gets this exactly right:
The non-stop shilling for Clinton continues at Talk Left where Armando is at it full-time.
Have whatever opinion of the actual Bill Clinton Presidency, but you have to deal with the fact that Bill Clinton remains extremely popular and his Presidency remembered fondly.
It's funny, but I don't remember Bill Clinton's presidency all that fondly. The first two years could only be described as a total disaster. He completely failed to reform our health care system. He failed to overturn the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. He appointed James Woolsey as Director of Central Intelligence and Louis Freeh as Director of the FBI…two of the worst public servants in the history of our nation. He passed NAFTA. He broke promises to congressional allies, after they stuck their necks out for him. He lost both houses of Congress, with disastrous results for the country.
Then he hired Dick Morris, of all people, to help him revitalize his presidency. And from the moment until he was caught lying under oath he ran the country as a quasi-Republican. The fact that we entrusted our party to a man that couldn't control his sexual urges and couldn't keep a promise? Well…we got what we deserved…a serious slapdown. We got twelve years without the House and eight years of President Bush. That's was our reward for electing Bill Clinton.
In 1996, the Clinton/Gore team made a mockery of campaign finance laws…a truth only disputed because the Republicans were too compromised to fully expose the degree of criminality.
We spent an entire year (1998) discussing the president's penis rather than doing something constructive. However unjust, Clinton did manage to get himself impeached…which is hardly a badge of honor, and hardly something to be remembered fondly.
Clinton finished his second term with a laudable but totally failed attempt to bring about an Israel/Palestine settlement. And then he pardoned Marc Rich on the way out the door.
Hillary's role was worse. It began with her decision to fire the travel office, which caused a lot of political embarrassment. She has been uniformly criticized for the extreme secrecy with which she ran her health care reform efforts. It was her role in Whitewater, and her billing records, that were questionable…not anything they found on her husband. It has Hillary that insisted on the intervention in Kosovo without UN approval, which set the precedent for Iraq.
The Clinton years were prosperous but they weren't politically happy years. It was one long melodrama…with Baby Boomers refighting their culture wars from the 60's. We had militias and Ruby Ridge and Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing. And O.J.'s trial and acquittal.
Democrats weathered through it all, happy to have the White House and a charismatic articulate president. But it was exhausting. And it wasn't worth it. No one who live through it could come to any other conclusion than Bill Clinton's presidency was a huge disappointment…immense talent squandered. And, for Democrats and progressives, we saw our values undermined, diminished, mocked, and ultimately discarded.
Then, the final insult…the be offered the vice-president as our champion, and for him to select Joseph Lieberman as his running mate. The middle finger pointing at us was unmistakable. Suck on this!!
A choice between that and George W. Bush? It's no wonder the Supreme Court had to decide it. The nation was too disgusted to do it on its own.
We haven't had leadership we could be proud of in a long time. And people may like Bill Clinton and remember his presidency fondly, but it is mostly selective memory. And, of course, anyone looks good compared to Bush.