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From the Department of If You've Even Got To Say That, It's Bad

What the Ds need to do:

[BILL CLINTON]... Treat the American people with respect...

Oh, they're not doing that?

UPDATE Link to the video.

No votes yet


Submitted by Hugh on

Yes, but this is Bill Clinton we are talking about. I wrote at Naked Capitalism today that he could fake sincere concern better than anyone I knew, that he was like a used car salesman that sold you a car that blew up the instant it was off the lot. He would then put his arm around you, commiserate with you for your loss (and offer to sell you a car seeing as you needed one).

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

Bill Clinton.

Submitted by Hugh on

I used to like Bill Clinton but then I started studying his record. He was big on free trade that has done so much to destroy American jobs. Rubin and Summers were both Treasury Secretaries under him. Summers worked with Ken Lay and Enron to get the CFMA passed which deregulated derivatives and opened oil markets up to pure speculation. Gramm-Leach-Bliley also passed under Clinton with its repeal of Glass-Steagall. This promoted both speculation and the growth of the TBTF. Then, of course, there was the bubble. Greenspan's easy money policies began under Clinton and with his approval. DADT which was just in the news today, that was also a Clinton achievement as well as the Defense of Marriage Act. Clinton founded the DLC and promoted business friendly neoliberal policies. Most of the hacks in the Obama Administration, at least those who aren't Republicans, served under Clinton and began their impressive records of failure at that time. I look at all the damage Clinton did and my affection and nostalgia for him disappear.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

Really, it is.

What Bill Clinton did in every situation was move legislation to the left. If there were enough votes to override his veto, he did his best to make it better. Gramm/Leach/Bliley being the perfect example - that was going to pass regardless of what he did and I know that you know that. So, he protected the CRA and made the bill better. Would it have been better if he'd allowed his veto to be overridden and simply not given a shit about the impact? NAFTA sucks and NAFTA is something he never should have championed but it's another bill that would have passed without his signature that he moved left. Again, would it have been better if he'd veto'd, received the political loss and allowed an even more right wing bill to stage?

Until we stop treating pols who move liberal goals down the field and shelter the ones that can't be moved the same way we treat pols who are complete sell outs, we aren't going to get a lot of worthwhile politicians. Turning your nose up at Bill Clinton leads inevitably to far worse choices like Obama - whose has yet to attempt any kind of a liberal approach to policy.

The fact of the matter is that we had our lowest unemployment in history, highest wages in history, 9 million people moved out of poverty all the while African American men saw a falling incarceration rate during his presidency and that matters. Rich people paid more in taxes and poor people paid less. He may not have been perfect, but considering how passionate the conservative tide was at the time, I think he was pretty amazing.

And now, we have a former president whose foundation, in conjunction with third world governments, keeps almost 3 million people alive with AIDS medication provided free of charge. He's returning subsistence farming to Haiti and publicly taking responsibility for the decisions he made as president in regards to their business community.

Considering how corrupt, stupid and conservative the current Dem is, I don't see where beating up on Bill improves the situation. it's not like we have a plethora of lefty populists ready to run.

Submitted by lambert on

... and in general, Presidents can be no better than the times permit them to be (Obama being a good deal worse).

That said, although Clinton's "neo-liberalism with a human face" may have been appropriate for the 90s, I don't know if it's appropriate for today, when the deterioration is so great. I don't think so. I agree that the Clintons are the best Ds we have. But is the best D good enough? I doubt it very much.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I think you are correct. Though I think tying in Hillary with Bill is a mistake. All the evidence supports the view that Hillary is rather to the left of Bill. But still, probably not good enough.

Submitted by lambert on

In 2000, 2004, maybe even 2008, a Clinton (right of Hillary) or Clinton (left of Bill, somewhat) might have been enough. However, during 2008 - 2010 (a) with the bailouts, the largest upward transfer of wealth in world history was accomplished, and (b) 10% real (20% nominal) unemployment was normalized.

Both were accomplished in a completely bipartisan fashion, with the Clinton faction, or at least its leadership, silent and therefore consenting.

Unemployment might be rolled back and a lower number renormalized, but the wealth transfer, hence the power shift, not -- at least under current arrangements.

So the situation has changed. I just don't see that the kind of amelioration that left neoliberalism would bring is enough now, because the baseline is too low. We needed an FDR, but the lesson the elite took from FDR is that the peasants got too much, and we got Barack Hoover Obama instead.

And how I would love to be wrong!!!

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

I don't think the approach works today, unfortunately I think it may be what we have left to gain back the public trust after the Obama debacle. For the record, I know this isn't popular, but I have mixed feelings about NAFTA, and it wasn't just Righties who supported NAFTA, Krugman supported it, not to say that makes it the right policy, just it wasn't a Rightward only policy.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I'm against protectionism because I find it immoral--tariffs to keep away imports. I agree with the spirit of "free trade" so long as its fair. I stay out of these debates the same way I stay out of Israel-Palestine debates because neither side cares to look at both sides of the story.

When it comes to offshoring (outsourcing internationally as opposed to domestically), its important to note that outsourcing has been around for a really long time and many of the problems we see today with offshoring have been encountered on regional basis for decades. But we somehow managed to deal with that then (or did we? we don't really discuss that much on the left because everything that happens now is so damn exceptional).

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Submitted by lizpolaris on

popular. Clinton did great things for our economy within 2 years of taking office. The gap between rich and poor shrank during his presidency. He effectively compromised with conservatives to obtain his goals - which derived from a liberal agenda.

While I am dismayed at what NAFTA and deregulation have wrought, and I didn't like 'welfare reform,' those issues do not change my overall opinion that Clinton was an excellent president, who handled both domestic and international affairs well in a rabidly hostile environment created by the opposition party.

I listen closely when I hear Clinton's views in the news. I also pay attention to what Carter has to say. With Obama, I've stopped listening to him within a year of his taking office. It's more effective to wait a bit and listen to his administration tell us what Obama really meant the following day.

Submitted by Hugh on

I used to like Clinton and thought he did a good job as President. But then Bush came along. I began to develop the tools to analyze and critique his Administration. I then started looking at how we ended up with Bush. This led me back to Clinton, and beyond of course. But when I started using the very same tools to assess Clinton's Presidency that I had used with Bush, my view of him changed, radically. Clinton certainly didn't run to the left on healthcare, DOMA, DADT, NAFTA, or Israel-Palestine. He laid the foundations for bubblenomics with the CFMA, repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the deal he cut with Greenspan trading deficit reduction for easy money policies. The bubble happened on his watch, but the economic policies he set in place set the stage for the housing bubble, the commodities bubble, and the current one we see in stocks.

When I say a vote for any Democrat or any Republican is a vote for kleptocracy, I mean it. Republicans may be crazy and far more irritating, but we get to the same place no matter which party is in power. That is why I argue we need to look past all these pseudo-conflicts between the parties and concentrate on what the final, and identical, results are.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Clinton certainly didn't run to the left on healthcare, DOMA, DADT, NAFTA, or Israel-Palestine. He laid the foundations for bubblenomics with the CFMA, repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the deal he cut with Greenspan trading deficit reduction for easy money policies.

It was just explained to you, that on issues like DOMA, DADT and Glass Steagall, Clinton did as much as possible to move those policies to the left, and you still include them in a list of things he did wrong.

DOMA-what was gonna pass was worse, way worse, than DOMA. DOMA is now being challenged effectively, and being shown for the unconstitutional mess it is. Was he supposed to sit by and let a constitutional amendment pass?

DADT-The plan at the time, in case you don't remember, was to pass a total ban on gays in the military, DADT was the horrendous compromise, but still further left than an outright ban would have been.

Glass-Steagall-I'll explain it again, in case you missed it above, but what was going to pass, with a veto proof majority, was worse. Was WAY worse, so Clinton watered down the worst of it, and got that passed instead. In other words, it was moved to the left.

Ream Clinton for the things he fucked up on, like NAFTA, Healthcare, Welfare reform, please do so. But please stop doing Versailles' work for them by lumping his marginal successes with his fantastic failures.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

We would not even be talking about gays serving openly in the military today if Bill Clinton didn't run hard Left on allowing gays to serve openly in the military in the 1990's before public opinion was so decidedl with him. He really did try to implement the policy but was thwarted by Nunn and Powell, and really his own Party. I think on DOMA people do not remember that Congress indeed had the votes to pass a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Bill Clinton's health care policy may not have been Medicare for All, and I do think that was a mistake, but it was decidedly to the Left of what passed. You know, an argument could be made that Glass-Steagall was indeed outdate, but needed to be replaced with new protections, but the Republicans and their Democratic enablers wouldn't allow it. NAFTA didn't live up to it's promise, but I definately don't think it is as black and white as you make it out to be. Finally, bubbles happen. The bubble wasn't Bill Clinton's fault for heaven sakes. And, it did not spill over into other sectors. Finally, to blame Bill Clinton for the current economic crisis is unwarrented. It discounts the absolute assult on regulatory policy in the Bush era.

Submitted by lambert on

... but it bends toward justice" indeed, but with the ascendance of the neo-liberals in the 1970s -- the Washington Consensus that includes both parties and all the Presidents of that time, including Clinton -- the MOTU bought the arc of history and bent it toward injustice.

And here we are.

That is why, to me, the debate about (both) Clintons is not very interesting. Yes, Bill Clinton slowed the bent toward injustice. He did not stop it, or reverse it. That's no knock on him, I don't think any D could have, and he was the best of 'em. Hillary Clinton, had her nomination been allowed, and had she been allowed to take office, would also have slowed the bend -- and I doubt very much she would have reversed it. And she was the best of 'em.

But the issue is to bend the arc of history toward justice again, and not merely have it ben toward less injustice.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

In many ways, Hillary may have dodged a bullet because I'm not sure that marginally to the Left of Obama would have been anymore popular, though I don't think she would have prenegotiated with the Republican position at every turn, and I do think she would have been a more competent executive. Still, there is no doubt, in my mind at least, that it would have taken a lot of push from progressives to enact policies that fit the crisis, if it would have been possible at all. One major difference as I see it, and one of the reasons I supported Hillary in the primary, is the Left was not smitten with her as they have been with Obama, thus I think the push Left would have been much harder and more successful.

Submitted by lambert on

... or any deference to the media, because the experience of the Clinton administration was so searing. I think she would have been tough and fought for policies and been successful -- but the real question is the nature of the policies, and is amelioration, at this point, enough.

Submitted by jawbone on

to Repubs -- that alone would have been worth having her as president.

The left would have been all over her if she reneged on her promises. The MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) would have been checking her every statement and action, but for different reasons; however, the MCMers would have been all over her for broken promises.

I can't recall who was being touted as her econ team, so quite possibly she might have used some of the same people Obama did (except for the U of Chi guys).

Internationally? She probably would have done things similarly to Obama, but I'm not sure about that either.

Environjment? Oh, I do think she would be doing a hell of a lot more than Obama, even with his vaunted Nobel prize winning cabinet scty.

Hillary would not be leaving BushBoy appointees in important positions in the Federal government; she would have appointed more liberal judges (imho); and she would not be dragging her feet on so many details of governing.

Gay rights? Oh, yeah. She would support them. Women's right to choose? Oh, yeah.

Health care accomplished? I think she would have had more enthusiastic Dem support than Obama did, and Baucus would never have been pub in charge of sucking up to the Big Health Industry Players.

And now a huge storm is coming upon my location , so clicking off.... No proofreading.

carissa's picture
Submitted by carissa on

But I'm having issues at other sites with images too.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

And I'm not having issues anywhere else

Card-carrying_Buddhist's picture
Submitted by Card-carrying_B... on

I don't at all see it that way.

Submitted by lambert on

Possibly some sort of ad blocking software?

Submitted by lambert on

1. I've added a link to the original video in an UPDATE; it's Wolf Blitzer interviewing Bill Clinton. It's not a YouTube video, but something that CNN did. I should have done that in the beginning; sorry.

2. Here are the reasons that a video might not display: (a) CNN messed up; (b) a bug in IE that causes some content not to display unless it is clicked on (try that); (c) ad blocking software on your own machine.


3. Due to lack of standardization and the general suckitude of our internet architecture (I am not being ironic), anybody trying to help you cannot do so without knowing what operating system (Windows, OS X, linux) you are using, and what browser you are using (IE, FireFox), ideally with versions for both. Without such information, "I can't see it" is head-poundingly frustrating, because there is not enough information for anybody to help you. Nobody can see what you see.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

using safari on a mac

And Big Dawg is looking fine.

As to peeps who say he was a bad president... he must be the best bad president ever because I sure do miss the Clinton years.
I remember the year I got preggers and just about the time FMLA went into effect-- that was such a boon.

Submitted by Hugh on

Interesting that there are so many supporters of Bill Clinton here. So let me get this straight. When Obama doesn't fight for anything and makes all kinds of dreadful compromises, that's bad, but when Clinton did it, it was good. That Obama is a latter day DLCer is bad. That Clinton was the original DLCer is good. Neoliberalism as practised by Obama is bad. Neoliberalism with Clinton at the helm was good. With Obama we don't look at the rhetoric, we look at the actions. But with Clinton, it's not his actual legacy, only his "intentions" count. Got it.

Somehow though I can't help thinking this is nostalgia for days that never were, the expression of the need for a hero that never was.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

You have to remember when Bill Clinton came to power it was in the middle of the rise of conservatism. I vididly remember my very liberal, political scientist father dancing in the living room because someone had finally developed a language to rally the public around liberal policies. He wasn't as liberal as I would have liked him to be(though I would argue he is to the Left of Obama), but I do think he was the right leader for that time. Further, for me atleast, his competence was extremely endearing. The federal government is after all a collasol bureaucracy and I appreaciate that he had the know how and experience to manage it far better than either of his two successors. Also, I do think Bill Clinton had courage. Here's a President who allowed Newt Gingrich to shutdown the federal government to avoid draconian cuts to Medicare.

Obama came to power after conservatism had crested, and somehow inexplicably brought it back to life. He prenegotiates with Republicans on every policy. And, at a time of crisis, which we simply did not have in the Clinton years, Obama could have pushed for an array of bold policies, and instead offered up milquetoast, center-right solutions that do not fit the size of the current crisis. It's in vouge to say Obama is an extension of Clinton. I think he's an extension of Bill Bradley.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Obama's situations and Clinton's situations were totally different, and CONTEXT matters.

Clinton was president during conservative ascendancy, voters wanted conservative policies. Yet, he still created outcomes that benefitted the working class, and expanded rights to oppressed minorities. Under Obama, who is president during a progressive ascendancy, with voters screaming for policies that are not conservative, he is passing Bush policies w/a Democratic face, and has extended rights to NO ONE, as a matter of fact, he stripped all women of many rights just last year, and called it "historic".

Clinton started to left on healthcare, and was forced to move right b/c of Harry & Louise.

Obama starts with Harry & Louise during the primary, proposes Bob Dole's healthcare plan once elected, and that's before moving any further right.

Also, we are not talking about Clinton's "intentions" we are talking about what actually happened. Clinton tried to go left, and was blocked at every turn. Obama starts to the right, and runs even further that way when faced with the slightest pressure.

There is a difference. We'd just like you to acknowledge it. It's not a major difference, it's a marginal one, but like lambert says, we can't afford to lie, we don't have the funding to maintain it. And trying to tell people that Clinton did nothing for them, is a lie you will be unable to maintain, when hundreds of thousands can point to concrete material benefits they got when Clinton was president.

Did he do anything to stave off our current situation? No, and no one here is arguing that. We are just asking you to stop misrepresenting the facts to make a cheap point. No one here will argue with you when you say Bill Clinton is part of the problem, not the solution. We just won't be quiet when you misrepresent what really happened.

And saying he laid the groundwork by passing Gramm-Leach-Bliley, when instead he fought to keep what little protections remained in the bill, is a misrepresentation of history.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

"Obama's situations and Clinton's situations were totally different, and CONTEXT matters."

Well said.