19 July 2012
It's easy to see how living under Emperor Nerobama could make one nostalgic for even the other men who have held his office since Reagan, but a disturbing number of "Conservatives" go too far when it comes to Clinton, even to the point of taking seriously the "New Democrat" label that Slick applied to himself for the purpose of his 1992 presidential campaign. For those of you whose memory doesn't go back even 20 years: He promoted himself thus in hope of evading the infamy that had attached to other members of his party because of their left-wing philosophies. As became clear, however, to those voters who had fallen for this ruse, there really was nothing new about him; his actions as president differed in no significant respect from those of Lyndon Johnson and Carter. (This ought, of course, to have been clear all along; one doesn't get nicknamed "Billion-Dollar Bill", as he was by the people of Arkansas, for demonstrating fiscal prudence.)
It's true that Clinton didn't emerge from quite the same patch of slime that spawned Obama; before becoming chief executive, he, like Johnson and Carter, had been considered conservative by the standards of the Democratic Party (which is not saying much), and I think that Rush Limbaugh was correct in his assessment of him as not really believing in anything except Big Government. Unlike the current holder of his office, therefore, he was dedicated not to the transmogrification of the USA into a leftist utopia but merely to the prolongation of his political career. This does not mean, though, contrary to the implication or assertion by some pundits who ought to know better, that he metamorphosed into a centrist in response to political circumstances. He may have proclaimed in an address to Congress that "The era of big government is over!", but he did nothing to reduce the size of that government except, naturally, in regard to defense, the one area in which greater (but wiser) expenditures might have been justified.
It's also true that the economic growth throughout the Clinton years occurred because of wise policies, but the policies were those not of Clinton, who had little influence in such matters even before his party lost control of both chambers of Congress, but rather those of the post-1994 Republican legislative majorities. (The "boom" of the 1990's has been considerably exaggerated anyway; not until nearly the end of the decade did economic growth reach 3.5 percent, which was only the average for the USA over at least the eight decades prior to our becoming the Obama Nation, and is pathetically inferior to what has become standard for the nominally Communist People's Republic of China.)
Only in a perverse way can we honestly credit Clinton for the USA's relative economic success in the 1990's, since it was his repudiation in the 1994 congressional elections, and his weakness of leadership, that assisted the opposition in carrying out reforms. He's no more a rôle model fiscally than he is morally.