Tuesday, September 14, 2010
No, there isn't a, er, liaison between the former president and the MSNBC host, but rather a strong statement on Clinton's part, defending his record against a characterization made by Rachel Maddow on her show last spring:
Bill Clinton flashed irritation at MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and other liberals Monday for failing to appreciate the successes of his presidency.Say what you will about Clinton and his personal recklessness, and inadequate responses to the earlier days of Islamist terrorism in the 1990s, he is the most fiscally prudent Democratic president since JFK. He had the benefit of having a very strong voter's message sent to him in 1994, and a job-creating economy with a rising stock market shortly after that. He had Secretary Rubin and Chairman Greenspan, back when the world still genuflected to their wisdom. Capital gains occurred in large volumes each year and were taxed, thereby (kind of) balancing the budget late in the decade, until the bubble popped. Compared to the current administration, Clinton is a miser when it comes to deficit spending.
“One of the leading television commentators on one of our liberal cable channels said I was the best Republican president the country ever produced, which would come [as] quite a surprise to the Republicans, half of whom still think I’m a closet communist,” Clinton said during an appearance with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia...
...Clinton said he accomplished more for the poor and middle class than traditional, New Deal-era liberalism ever could have. He touted his welfare-to-work program, which he said cut the rolls by 60 percent.
“We had 100 times as many people move out of poverty during those eight years [I was president] than the previous 12 years because we had an earned income tax credit, not because we had another traditional anti-poverty program hiring people,” he said.
Maddow has an interesting shtick, albeit one that is in an apparently narrow niche, and she has not refrained from taking pot shots at President Obama from his left. That raises the question -- is it at all conceivable that there will be another Rachel Maddow with another TV show in the late 2020s, saying that President Obama became a "Republican president" after 2010?
The two presidents are different men. Clinton was the best retail politician of his generation and thrived on personal interaction with voters (sometimes, obviously, to his detriment). He was never accused of having a "cool detachment," and enjoyed speaking extemporaneously. It wasn't clear to a large segment of voters if Clinton had an unalterable set of core principles, or whether his primary instinct was for self-preservation. I think we are about to find out whether President Obama will compromise on some of his strongly held beliefs, with the showdown over the expiring Bush tax cuts for higher income taxpayers possibly being the first act in that drama.
I would say Clinton, whatever you think of him, is an intellectual powerhouse; he is brilliant. He was a Rhodes Scholar. He studied. He learned.
Obama is a charlatan; a mediocre intellect who skated through. No Rhodes Scholar. He didn't even publish while on the Law Review.
There is simply no comparison.
And I'm a Republican.
I think when you examine that rate at which gov't grew. It really didn't slow down under Clinton. Mostly what happened is that he had a signfican jump in revenue to work with.
His "brilliance" then would be that he chose not to spend the extra revenue.
While I agree with what Clinton said, at least in part, I do note two things that have not changed in him since he was president. As the number of Republicans who think he's a closet communist is small (but noisy), his 50% figure is paranoid. And he still takes full credit for what other people did.
And avoids 'credit' for what HE did, like playing patty-cake with al Qaeda and Iran (WTC I, Khobar Towers, African embassy bombings, USS Cole) and hampering our intelligence capabilities (infamous 'wall'), doing the most of any single person to set us up for 9/11 and the resultant war on terror.
In some ways, the foreign policy of the Bush years was playing catchup on all the issues Clinton kept punting away...
I agree with CP that he's an intelligent and accomplished man, but too much politician and too little leader, IMO.
Bill Clinton was very pro-business. He understood that creating jobs and wealth was a good thing. He's very comfortable around rich, successful businessmen, something I don't think our current President is.
Around 2001 or so, I remember seeing a Sunday op-ed piece by Clinton with some heading like, "America to Blame for Africa's Economic Problems". After citing some liberal boilerplate in the first paragraph, the piece was very good. He advocated better property rights and free trade. I didn't disagree with any of his policy proposals.
That's when I began to reassess him. His economic policy was pretty good (great for a Democrat): free trade (NAFTA, China in the WTO), cutting capital gains taxes, paring back the welfare state, deregulating finance (repealing Glass-Steagall).
Basically, he was a supply-sider.