I've always been high on Bill Clinton, but after watching Obama work all term to reverse Clinton's disgraceful record on LGBT rights, I've come to view him more negatively. I understand that the politics of the time required Clinton to sign DOMA, and I do acknowledge that DADT was implemented because Clinton initially came out in favor of gays in the military. But we must view his record for what it is. It's a very black mark on the record of a good president and an empathetic man.
Definitely appreciate Clinton more now than before. I still think there were a lot of disastrous policies tucked in that secOnd term, between financial deregulation, DMCA and others, but having someone in office who lived for the fight, and someone who was generally one step ahead of congressional Republicans, is preferable to someone who is usually one step behind and unnecessarily avoiding conflict. Though Obama's substantive record is much better, to be fair.
I look at the Clinton presidency pretty much the same way I did before - highly successful in a lot of ways, but with a revolting willingness to throw allies under the bus on far too many occasions (DOMA, DADT, and Lani Guinier leap to mind) and with a questionable move to basing the party even more on big money donors than the forces that ran the party in the 70s and 80s.
Viewing Bill Clinton's presidency in retrospect (from 2012) is a lot like viewing Mark Twain's novels in retrospect. At the time, a lot of the ideas seemed progressive (and perhaps radical in some circles) but now seem somewhat discriminatory and unfair when we apply the liberal views of nearly two decades later.
+1DADT is a fab example. In some ways, looking back is really exhilarating. I was never a fan of the past, and I'm glad to see it go.
Still the best, and only, Republican President I ever voted for.
I think Clinton was a pretty good president all around, especially in the realm of foreign policy where he really helped to create a more stable world in the face of the chaotic end of the Cold War. That said, he of course had his own problems and I think when you look back at his biggest failure, like Monica but there are others, it was due to his own personal appetites and selfishness. He always was a man of huge appetites and self focus, it's what made some poor kid who essentially grew up in a single parent household in small town Arkansas a Rhodes Scholar and later a President. At the same time I think he did neglect both liberalism and the Democratic Party to a large degree in order to further his own goals, for example making a main legislative goal of your presidency school uniforms isn't that social justicey. While some of his failures where undoubtedly self inflected (the transition fiascoes, Monica, Waco) his errors were compounded by the awfulness of the GOP during the 90s. We know now that Osama Bin Laden set the whole 9/11 plot into motion during the the winter of 98/99 when a certain political party believed that impeaching the president for personal moral failures was a good idea. So I suppose he deserve a great deal of credit in some ways, but he was far from some sort of liberal shining prince come to deliver us.
I remember Clinton, under attack as usual, bragging about how he had shown he could "take a punch." I'm still waiting for a Democratic president who will brag that he can throw a punch. This item from today's Guardian was a helpful reminder:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/03/class-war-wisconsin-democrats-kumbayaInsofar as Clinton represented the DLC and its allergy to "class warfare," and Obama has an even worse case of that allergy, Obama makes me think worse of Clinton. The whole party's just been on the wrong track for a long time.
I think Obama has been a significantly more effective President than Clinton. This strikes me as true in terms of legislative accomplishments, foreign policy, and avoiding scandal. Frankly, it doesn't even seem close. Generally, Obama's Presidency has made me think that Clinton got too much credit for his real, but modest, accomplishments.That said, if Obama loses re-election, the conventional wisdom will likely be the opposite. I think that conventional wisdom would be mistaken - the underlying economic conditions are the key factor here. I think Obama's handling of the economy has been far from perfect (Fed vacancies, inadequate stimulus, etc.), but I find the notion that Clinton would have done better to be deeply implausible.
I was definitely on the Clinton Santo Subito bandwagon when he left office, but the fact that he didn't get too much done legislatively, while presiding over a fair bit of financial deregulation makes me view him as a middling president compared to Obama. (To be fair, he did hold the line against fanatical Republicans who wanted to tear a hole in the budget with tax cuts every year after 1993.)And maybe it's the hindsight, but he had healthy majorities and cooperative Republicans at the outset of his term; it's rather odd that he couldn't sign more sweeping laws that benefit the centre-left. Maybe it's because he was a Washington outsider with a young team, but looking at how much Obama has gotten done with implacable opposition to him as a person and to his having a successful first term in general, it makes you look back in retrospect and say:WTF was Clinton doing in 1993-94?
I think Obama's done better in the face of a more difficult opposition to navigate, but Obama's presidency like Bush's before have underscored how much more difficult it has become for a president to lead compared to Clinton's day.
Clinton has to be held partially responsible for laying the groundwork for the financial crisis, for one thing. If you're think Geithner and Summers have been too soft on Wall Street and unwilling to impose effective regulations, you partly have Clinton to blame for them. Clinton is also to blame for Wall Street investors being an influential part of the Democratic coalition, which is a major liability for the Democratic brand even independent of their influence on policy. No wonder he's defending Bain Capital.On economic issues, I think Clinton is more widely regarded than Obama by the general public, and definitely deserve a lot of credit. But that's partly the bad timing of Obama's election, and even without bad Bush policies the Clinton boom was unsustainable. On the triangulation issue, there's no contest. NAFTA, welfare reform, DOMA and DADT--all these policies entailed taking a position in direct opposition to a significant part of the Democratic coalition. I don't see a similar issue on Obama's side (the far left has a long list, but in most cases they would be represented by Kucinich and practically no one else). Maybe Libya, which I think would have been totally uncontroversial in the Clinton era, as well as the 2010 compromise budget. Clinton sometimes overtly courted the opposition of liberals to win moderate and conservative voters; this was rarely the case with Obama for whom the objections are usually just an overwillingness to compromise. On legislative accomplishment: Clinton's success at raising taxes (overturned in the next GOP administration) vs. Obama's passage of healthcare reform (ditto, likely).The progressive movement is honestly heading for utter disaster should Romney enact the Ryan budget and ride an economic upturn (has to happen sometime) to become the second Reagan. The greatest missed opportunity was losing in 2000--Democrats really should have been able to win that one and put the breaks on movement conservatism. Not sure how much Clinton is to blame for that, though.
The probability of an economic upturn as a consequence of the Ryan budget is pretty much wishful thinking, dude.
"Democrats really should have been able to win that one and put the breaks on movement conservatism." I blame spoiler Nader and those purity voters (2.4%). Thanks a lot. I'm still waiting for the admission it was a mistake.
The rebirth of Clinton as the grand old wise man, revered by Dems and Indys, and listened to by Repubs, is not a tribute to new facts. It is the evolution of a successful president. In 20 years Obama will be even more deeply honored and revered. I had deep regard for Clinton as the President of the US. That hasn't changed at all. The Lewinsky side show had no information for governance.
Both Obama and Clinton faced opposition which was/is heavily funded, absolutely deranged, and treasonous. Half the country is using all of its weight to pull the country off a cliff. It is hard to blame Clinton or Obama when anything they do is simply lied about by the right-wing media and the left half of the IQ bell curve happily licks it up.
*sigh* I really am not trying to appoint myself the civility police, but could you please not explicitly refer to "half the country" as "treasonous"ly "trying to pull the country off a cliff?" It's not okay.
Please explain exactly how I am wrong.Mitch McConnell declared the job #1 for Congress was to make sure that Obama doesn't get re-elected, and he's done everything in his power to ensure that. They filibuster absolutely every single thing, I suppose that's okay with you. They won't confirm any of Obama's appointments or judges, I suppose that's okay with you. Was it okay with you when they nearly sent the US into default and cost us several tens of millions dollars for their gamesmanship? The republicans are frauds, and they deliberately use the corporate-funded right-wing media to bamboozle uneducated, low-information, and low-intelligence voters to keep voting against their economic, environmental, interests. These people are evil, "classicist", and if you knew the first damn thing about ethics, you would know that too. Or maybe you're just an unreconstructed racist, like our good friend backyardfoundry, who thinks that racial minorities are "terrible people", and complains about the lack of links to goy authors.
purusha - its probably the case that folks like backyard, myself, and a few others have asked for more than we've received in this community...but surely if anyone's hands are clean here its the classicist's. Please save the ad hominems for those who've arguably earned them.
CSH: I wouldn't say you've asked for much derision. To the contrary, I find that you seem to be genuinely interested in conversing with the mostly liberal denizens here on a sophisticated and intellectually curious level.
So happy to see people stand up for a deserving, thoroughly decent commenter like the classicist. It also shows that the mud doesn't usually get thrown at the gentler souls on this blog. Thanks to everyone for having accurate aim!
@Matt Jarvis: thanks for the compliment. I take great enjoyment and personal value mixing it up here; its unfortunate that there isn't really (to my knowledge) a good, comparable forum that is mostly right-leaning.I think many of us are partisans with a bit of that Groucho Marx "I would not join a club that would have someone like me" independent streak. For me, this comes to the fore when I see someone like Grover Norquist on Fox News, with his clown bowtie and smug demeanor, condescendingly asserting that Laffer Curve effects are just as strong at 30% marginal rates as 90% marginal rates. Makes you want to scream; best not to do so in a place like NRO.Its great to have a community like this, where the assembled liberals are mostly patient and indulgent with a guy like me, which I find really helps to clear up my views on important, murky matters like tax policy. Its a shame there isn't a similar opportunity for lefties on a mostly-righty forum.
@CSH, start one. It's not that hard. I started mine last August (inspired/frustrated by the debt ceiling mess), and I've had over 13K pageviews and almost 500 comments since then. www.blogspot.com has good tools to get started, no cost, and only as much commitment as you want to make. You've identified the need, now take the next step.
@MP: thanks for the suggestion. I've actually been thinking about this for awhile; my primary enthusiasm is finance and investing, in which I think there's a need for bringing "high" finance to us low people. Sites like Motley Fool or Seeking Alpha or the Yahoo Message Boards purport to do exactly that; in my experience though they tend to be stock rating services or some guy bragging about how he studies changing receivables and so should you. Actually, its pretty much usually some guy bragging about something. My sense is that little people find stuff, concepts like the Dogs of the Dow, the same stuff the big hedge fund computers find, but there isn't a great forum for little people to swap ideas (at least not without screening past the braggarts and stock raters).Could you do both the finance and the political stuff in the same forum? No harm in trying, I suppose. Thanks for the tip!
Raised my respect for Clinton.Clinton got in front of Republican policies and made them less disasterous, in most cases. Now, we can all point to the financial stuff from the late 1990s, but I liken that to energy deregulation from the same period (which led to Enron, Duke, CA brownouts, and the rest): the idea that deregulation of markets was a relatively unfettered good was the zeitgeist of the era. I would argue that, 15 years later, the evidence on that front makes that dubious, but in the late 1990s, it was just accepted. It's hard to compare their legislative accomplishments: Clinton had a small majority led by Tom Foley, whereas Obama had a large majority led by Pelosi (and his election, arguably, represented a public repudiation of the last administration, whereas nobody interpreted Clinton's 3-way win (insert joke here) as a "mandate." (Mandates essentially don't exist, but try convincing the Beltway of this!)
At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect