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A History Lesson

Miss me?

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” – Winston Churchill

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it again next year.”
– Beulah Limekiller, History Teacher, Elmore Blight Junior High

There’s a whole lotta misinformation about the Big Dawg floating around the progressive blogosphere these days. If you believed even half of it you would think the Clinton administration was a disaster for the nation. Here’s Ted Rall for example:

Because of Clintonian triangulation, the liberal base of the Democratic Party saw the 1990s as a squandered opportunity: eight years of unprecedented economic expansion with not one new social program, not even national healthcare, to show for it. They got the message: voting Democratic doesn’t guarantee Democratic policies. Unenthused, liberals stayed home or voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Liberal disgust for triangulation (they called it “selling out”) sufficiently reduced Al Gore’s margin of victory to allow George W. Bush to steal Florida and the national election. It took the Democrats six years to begin to recover.

Let’s jump in the Wayback machine and see what REALLY happened.

"Sherman, set the dial for 1992"

At the beginning of 1992 the reelection of George H.W. Bush seemed to be just a formality. The GOP had won five of the previous six presidential elections, four of them by electoral blow-outs. The sole loss was the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter which was mostly a reaction to Watergate and Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon.

Poppy Bush had beaten Michael Dukakis like an ugly step-child in 1988, then saw his approval rating soar to 90% during the first Gulf War. The Democratic “heavy-weights” like Dick Gephardt and Mario Cuomo declined to run, so the primaries started with no clear front-runner.

Enter Bill Clinton, the “boy governor” of Arkansas, a historically red state. Clinton ran as a “New Democrat,” a centrist coalition within the Democratic party. He was also the head of the Democratic Leadership Council in 1990-91.

Clinton ran as a centrist, with Jerry Brown running to his left as his main competition. It was a long campaign that didn’t end until Clinton won the California primary in June, 1992. But by the time Clinton secured the nomination he was running in third place in polling for the general election, trailing Bush and billionaire Ross Perot.

Between June and November Perot officially declared his candidacy, dropped out, then re-entered the race. He financed his own campaign and before he imploded he spent most of his time criticizing Bush, who was the front runner.

Bush, on the other hand, went from hero to zero in public approval ratings. Besides the attacks coming from Perot he was hurt by a struggling economy, his reneging on his original “read my lips, no new taxes” campaign pledge and by the failure of the military to depose Saddam Hussein.

In a three-way race Clinton won with a plurality of 43%, garnering 370 electoral votes. Bush got 37.5% of the popular vote and 168 electoral votes, while Perot got 18.9% of the popular vote but no electoral votes. Even though Perot spent $60 million of his own money on the campaign, his net worth increased during that same period.

If you think “Boo-Hoo Barack” has had it rough, check out what the Big Dawg had to deal with when he took office. Republicans immediately seized on the fact that Clinton had not won a majority of the popular vote to claim he lacked “legitimacy.” Some GOPers were talking about impeachment before he was even inaugurated.

During Bill’s first year in office he had to deal with Whitewater, “Travelgate” the Waco/Branch Davidian raid/stand-off, the battle of Mogadishu and the death of Vince Foster. That was in addition to the controversies over some of his nominees and the cold shoulder Bill and Hillary received from Sally Quinn and the rest of the Village idiots.

Molly Ivins reported in May 1993 that a Republican consultant told a network newscaster that his job was to ensure that Hillary Clinton was discredited before the 1996 campaign. Each day he would send out talking points to radio talk show hosts with bogus stories about her.

Although FOX News didn’t go on the air until October 1996, by 1992 the Republican Noise Machine was already in operation. This included talk radio, the right-wing punditocracy (print and television), conservative “think tanks” and coordinated “messaging” directed by the leadership of the Republican party.

The “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” began to take shape. GOP congresscritters used used their “oversight” power to scrutinize every burp and fart at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then they screamed for the appointment of special prosecutors. Richard Mellon Scaife spent $2 million dollars on the Arkansas Project, funding investigations of the Clintons with the intent of damaging and/or ending Bill’s presidency. Everything, including gossip, rumor and innuendo ended up in the media.

The Clintons were investigated again and again for over eight years. There were THREE separate investigations of Whitewater and every one of them concluded that there was no wrongdoing by Bill and Hillary. Not one investigation concluded that Hillary had ever broken the law, but Ken Starr was able to prove (after spending $70 million) that Bill lied about getting a blow-job.

During Bill’s first two years in office Congress was controlled by the Democrats. Despite this fact he was unable to get health care reform passed and when he tried to keep his promise to lift the ban on gays in the military Congress threatened to codify the policy into law, so Bill settled for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which was an improvement over the original policy.

But the “centrist” Clinton signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Brady Bill and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It cut taxes for fifteen million low-income families and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers. He also expanded the Earned Income Credit.

Bill supported ratification of the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) even though Hillary privately disagreed. The treaty had been negotiated by the Poppy Bush administration but had not been finalized. Prior to sending it to Congress, Clinton introduced clauses to protect American workers and to require Mexico and Canada to adhere to environmental practices and regulations similar to the United States. The treaty was ratified and took effect on January 1, 1994.

The Obots like to claim that Clinton “lost Congress” but this is complete bullshit. The Democrats had controlled the House of Representatives for over 40 years and the Senate for most of that same time. But during that period there had been a political realignment that had seen the South turn “red.” In the late eighties and early nineties there had been a number of scandals in Congress, most of them involving Democrats.

In 1994 the Republican party and the Conservative Movement were on the rise. They were well organized and well funded, with media, messaging and candidate recruitment operations. Led by Newt Gingrich, the Republicans ran a nationally based campaign centered on the “Contract With America.” Their campaign worked, and the GOP took control of both houses of Congress.

There’s an old saying in football – “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.”  Bill Clinton spent the last six years of his time in office playing defense against a high-powered Republican offense determined to repeal the New Deal and the Great Society.  The Big Dawg stuffed them, beating them over and over.

Many proggers (most of them born with silver spoons in their mouths) whinge about “welfare reform” as if Clinton criminalized poverty. I’ll let the Big Dawg explain hisself:

On Aug. 22, 1996, after vetoing two earlier versions, I signed welfare reform into law. At the time, I was widely criticized by liberals who thought the work requirements too harsh and conservatives who thought the work incentives too generous. Three members of my administration ultimately resigned in protest. Thankfully, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voted for the bill because they thought we shouldn’t be satisfied with a system that had led to intergenerational dependency.

The last 10 years have shown that we did in fact end welfare as we knew it, creating a new beginning for millions of Americans.

In the past decade, welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today. At the same time, caseloads declined by 54 percent. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts. Through the Welfare to Work Partnership, which my administration started to speed the transition to employment, more than 20,000 businesses hired 1.1 million former welfare recipients. Welfare reform has proved a great success, and I am grateful to the Democrats and Republicans who had the courage to work together to take bold action.

The success of welfare reform was bolstered by other anti-poverty initiatives, including the doubling of the earned-income tax credit in 1993 for lower-income workers; the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which included $3 billion to move long-term welfare recipients and low-income, noncustodial fathers into jobs; the Access to Jobs initiative, which helped communities create innovative transportation services to enable former welfare recipients and other low-income workers to get to their new jobs; and the welfare-to-work tax credit, which provided tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire long-term welfare recipients.

I also signed into law the toughest child-support enforcement in history, doubling collections; an increase in the minimum wage in 1997; a doubling of federal financing for child care, helping parents look after 1.5 million children in 1998; and a near doubling of financing for Head Start programs.

The results: child poverty dropped to 16.2 percent in 2000, the lowest rate since 1979, and in 2000, the percentage of Americans on welfare reached its lowest level in four decades. Overall, 100 times as many people moved out of poverty and into the middle class during our eight years as in the previous 12. Of course the booming economy helped, but the empowerment policies made a big difference.

Ted Rall and the Obots like to blame Clinton for Gore’s “loss” in 2000, but that’s not what happened.  From Wikipedia:

Clinton’s job approval rating ranged from 36% in mid-1993 to 64% in late 1993 and early 1994. In his second term, his rating consistently ranged from the high-50s to the high-60s. After his impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999, Clinton’s rating reached its highest point at 73% approval. He finished with an approval rating of 68%, which matched those of Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era.

Gore ran a terrible campaign, distancing himself from the popular Big Dawg and selecting Clinton critic Holy Joe Lieberman as his VP nominee.  Meanwhile George Bush was the “media darling” while they transformed Al Gore into a serial liar. If you want a good description of what took place in the 2000 election, check out Bob Somerby’s “How He Got There.”

The Clinton years were a period of peace and prosperity. We saw the longest period of economic expansion in modern history, while the gap between rich and poor shrank as most of the prosperity went to the bottom third of the socio-economic ladder. Clinton turned the federal budget deficit into a surplus. But some morons call that period a “squandered opportunity.”

182 Responses

  1. Good lesson, which means it has no chance of getting published in a Texas textbook.

    • Or on a prog blog.

      • Clinton derangement syndrome is a bipartisan affliction.

      • Don’t forget Bill Clinton’s appointing the first female Attorney General, and the first female Secretary of State. That his election in 1992 started the tidal wave of women as senators. 6 woman senators were elected; the historic high had been 2.

        Bill Clinton cared and accomplished a lot in improving the representation of women and minorities in his administration. Moreover, he did so not by window dressing and choosing tokens, but by selecting wonderfully competent people. He wasn’t an elite as* patronizing the oppressed groups; he was and is a genuinely liberal thinker.

      • Cyber-strokes in your general direction. I’d also like to see some pushback on the current trend of vilifying fmr. President Carter (while simultaneously praising that viciously bigoted, criminally supported “St” Reagan.)

        Though my Carter-era political antennae were mere lumps on my head, I don’t recall anything personal or about his governance that explains the apparent need to take slap at him.

        • My opinion of Jimmy has been affected by his treatment of the Big Dawg and his endorsement of Obama.

          • Mine too. Jimmy has fallen ‘way, ‘way down in my estimation. Same with Teddy Kennedy. From where I sit, it looks to me like petty personal and family jealousies were and are far more important to these men than is the welfare of the American people.

          • Here is what Jimmy said about Obama once upon a time:

          • I was also disappointed in all of those endorsements, but what I’m seeing is a sloppy, perfunctory Reagan good/Carter bad twofer that’s disproportionate to Carter personally and as a POTUS.

            I don’t even have a Texas textbook. Carter’s name comes up so frequently outside of his charitable activities, I’m genuinely baffled as to why it comes up at all.

  2. Yes

  3. Bravo. Thank you.

  4. It is amazing that anyone would try to make that argument against either of the Clintons. I would start the argument that Bill and Hillary Clinton did more than any other couple. Furthermore I would simply ask the question who would you rather listen to in a speach: Bill, Hillary or Barack. When it comes to content and rationale, Barack isn’t in the same category.

    Now it is true that Health care was passed primarily by Nancy Pelosi. It remains to be seen that the mess is sustainable. Deals with pharma and hospitals is what we got from this white house. I think it is already conceded that changes will have to be made as no structural changes have been made in terms of health care delivery. Jut more insurance clients. Can we realy expect the insurance compnies to come through with economies to scale cost savings? I will take my guidence on this from Dennis Kuchinich

    When it comes to financial reform, Barack is all bark and no bite. His financial team is simply a continuation of George Bush. Consumer protection might be able to curtail frudulent loans. However the rest of it is complete capitulation to the finance people.

  5. The quote on repeating history was from George Santayana, not Winston Churchill.

    I’ll never forget the January 17, 2001 headline from The Onion: “Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over‘”

    Carolyn Kay

    • Not an Onion quote:

      “It was amazing I won. I was running against peace and prosperity and incumbency.” — George W. Bush, 2001

      • It amazed me as well. I didn’t think he had a chance until the media sold him to the country.

        • I was unamazed. I will never forget the day I heard he was entering the race — as the news was being reported on the radio, I stopped what I was doing, my heart sank, and I knew immediately that he would be the next president. And knew that it would be a disaster for our country.

      • He didn’t actually win, but it’s possible he didn’t know that.

    • George S. said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

      Winston plagiarized Santayana.

  6. Yeah. That whole 68% approval rating even after the kangaroo court impeachment and the Lewinsky thing as he ended his second term was just a fluke I tells ya. A fluke. He was teh Satan! Hated by eeeevveryyone! Divisive! and that wife of his Goody Proctor! NAFTA!! Glass-Stegall!!

    That was my Thom Hartman impression.

    • If Clinton had a 68% approval rating and the progs hated him, then who the hell approved of him? It damn sure wasn’t the GOPers.

      Then again, lots of proggers are former Republicans.

      • As you’ve often said, everyone hates the Clintons except the voters.

        • I don’t think anyone hates the Clintons who isn’t of Versailles or in their circle in some way. That includes wanna-bes.

        • Anyone survey the black voters lately?

          • BAR has. They are NOT happy with The One, and seem to miss the Big Dawg.

            Well, duh….

          • Mary, I read BAR and I haven’t seen any evidence they miss ANY president to date.

            BAR supported Cynthia McKinney, not BO.

          • Read the BAR article about the Tavis Smiley discussion on C-Span.

            It’s quite eye-opening “black voters” opinions.

  7. I remember during the 2004 elections when the RNC head (Ken Melman I think) and the DNC head (was it Terry M?) had a debate and Melman said that Bill Clinton left Bush with the worst economy in our nation’s history. The audience literally laughed out loud.

  8. It’s easier to draw false equivalences between Obama and Clinton than to admit you screwed up and voted for The Worst Democrat Ever™.

    • “The Worst Democrat Ever” What a great bumper sticker! You don’t even have to say who…just let the “O”bvious answer take shape. Where can I buy one? Or you could use the 0bama logo be placed in the word Democrat. Dem”O”crat.

  9. Thanks so much myiq2xu~

    I think of Bill Clinton as the last of the Democratic presidents.

    I think NAFTA and deregulation were big mistakes he made while in office. We know that now in hindsight. At the time he was making the decisions I think he believed they would on the balance help rather than hurt average americans.

    No one will ever convince me not to believe that at the heart of his so called triangulation was the desire to move the ball forward for as many people as possible.

    • Meh…I don’t know.

      • I think reasonable people can disagree about the effect of NAFTA, but they should be honest about how it came to be.

        We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts.

        • Welfare reform was another area where he took a beating, yet it brought more people out of poverty and provided single mothers childcare credits that made working more advantageous than staying home.

          Under Bill Clinton more people rose out of poverty than at any time since the recovery of the Depression.

      • I believe that most economic studies of NAFTA have shown a small but nevertheless measurable positive effect on GDP, wages, and employment for all three parties to the treaty. The negative effects, however, have been concentrated in specific geographic areas and have been pretty devastating to them. I think it definitely needs some refinement, particularly in the areas of labor and environmental protections.

        • And Clinton’s support of the legislation — which was already a foregone conclusion when he too office and passed with a veto-proof majority — was in exchange for some minor protections that he could extract before the vote.

          Unfortunately Bush gutted most of the trade protections that kept it constrained for maximum benefit.

        • As for Glass Stegall, that passed with something like a 90-8 vote in the Senate. Yet Thom Hartmann beats that drum every day. He tries to rewrite history too. His CDS is worse than the republican version.

          • Clinton tied repeal of Glass-Steagall to the expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act. From Wiki:

            On signing the “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act”, President Clinton said that it, “establishes the principles that, as we expand the powers of banks, we will expand the reach of the [Community Reinvestment] Act”

        • Plus in reading those studies you have to differentiate the data from pre 2000 to post 2000. Bush relaxed most of the enforcement controls and it made the adverse affects much worse under him.

      • SOD — I agree with you. It’s the capitulation to trade in China that we have to worry about. Mexico and Canada are small potatoes.

    • “I think of Bill Clinton as the last of the Democratic presidents.”
      Many of us feel this way. However, there are those that think he’s the best Republican POTUS we ever had.

    • In my book he’s the last elected President too.

  10. To answer your question, Bill.


    Yes, I miss you.

  11. Donna Brazzile (sp) didn’t want Gore to be next The Big Dawg and when they realized their mistake it was 3 or 4 days before the election and The Big Dawg went straight out the dog and started campaigning hard. Big Dawg, got some of the largest crowds, contrary to Gore’s events which were for the elite and not open to the ‘faithful’ (volunteer Dems).

    Want blame, pass it to Donna she can be found on CNN.

    • Better hurry.

    • Donna Brazzile is both stupid and evil. I will never forget her adolescent e mail responses to fellow Dems during the primary. Every time I see see her doing her ” I’m just a good ol gal from New Orleans routine” I want to gag.

  12. From Time (via Jawbone in the last thread):

    For about an hour in May 1993, two of LAX’s four runways were shut down. Then President Bill Clinton never heard the end of it. The reason for the closure was the presence of Air Force One, inside of which the President was in the throes of a $200 trim from a glamorati stylist named, fabulously, Christophe.

    The media widely reported that scheduled flights had been forced to circle, that runways were jammed and that people were made hours late, though a Newsday report later that year showed that there were no significant delays. By then, however, “Hairgate” had already become a public-relations nightmare and solidified an opinion in some quarters of Clinton’s out-of-touch excesses. What made it doubly awkward was that it occurred while the President was struggling to get Congress to pass a deficit-reduction bill.

    An earlier version of this item incorrectly stated that flights and passengers had been delayed several hours by the President’s haircut.

    Zombie lies never die

    • When the report that exonerated the Clintons from the Whitewater hoax came, Clinton had a press conference and talked about it. He noted that no one was talking notes. “You are not going to report this, are you?” Crickets followed (from the Hunting of the President). The media continued to flog Whitewater, and most people think something shade took place – when in fact it was James Gertz from NY Times who made it up and passed to some freeper DA.

  13. I wasn’t in the US for a lot of the Clinton years. I do think Hillary is more liberal than Bill was; he was for NAFTA and welfare reform. But it was 8 years of prosperity that neither of his successors have been able to replicate, and he sure didn’t inherit it from his predecessor. So of all the years in the last 21, 8 of them have been good economically, and those were under whom? Bill Clinton. Even with the Republicans trying to destroy him.

    I liked Gore and was a strong supporter, but the Dem party acted shamefully. There is nothing the Dems can do to win me back unless they make major real changes: no Obama in 2012, Tim Kaine out the door, full equality for gay people, reproductive rights back on the agenda, and actual universal health care. So I am pretty sure that means NEVER.

  14. Great and important post, thank you.
    One important correction re Gore: HE WON! We wuz robbed then, and in 2004 by Bush. Then again in 2004 by Obama.
    Indeed, the evil triangulation was used by Clinton to deal with a tough situation.
    Obama is just paying for the other team when he doesn’t need to, politically – but because hes paid by them to do so. He is not triangulating, he is simply betraying.
    I remember a remark of Obama David Broder quoted re: HCR: “I’d rather get a fraction of what I want but with more votes” to which Clinton commented “I’d get as much as I could pass”

  15. As a retired special ed teacher I have to say that I view welfare reform as a positive thing for kids.

    If Moms work that automatically puts the household on a routine. Kids respond well to routine and they come to school more prepared to deal with the structure of education.

    Many of the aides and assistants that I worked with had previously been home on welfare. They took a lot of pride in their work and became intregal parts of the delivery of services to kids with special needs.Some went on to get a degree paid for by their school system.

    It is not a bad thing to work for your living.

  16. Yeah, Clinton era … great times! I had a hard time getting a job after college then because of the opposite problem we are having now — employee saturation. It was later on that I was able to get a job and make a great salary until the Bush era wherein my salary has barely grown since.

    Thing about the Nader voters is that many of them simply couldn’t vote for Gore (when they should have) and came out in droves for Obama (when they shouldn’t have) to not repeat the same mistake.

    The stupid Obots just can’t get it in their heads that Obama faces a completely different situation politically than Bill ever did. cripes — they even printed the whole Starr report in the NEWSPAPER & remember the news stories of parents having to explain to their kids what blowjobs were? They demonized Bill Clinton.

    As you pointed out myiq, there was a mass Republican influx that even permeated the campuses. Campus newspapers and orgs were have found to receive funding from Republican operatives and thus lost their student org status. That happened to one of our campus newspapers, which was then forced to close it’s student affiliated office and relocate off-campus. And who can forget when Rush Limbaugh got his own TV show?

    • I do recall in 2000 an attitude of ‘It’s payback time, m-f!’ from the left towards Gore. It fueled a lot of defections to Naderism.

      • Yeah, that made a lot of sense.


        • Clinton spent most of his time in office trying to hold on to as much as possible, but the purists blamed him (and Gore) for not doing enough.

          Now they praise Obama for being a DINO-Republican.

      • Payback for what though. I admit I wasn’t in country, but I can’t remember what Nader ran on.

  17. Steve Clemons:

    But an unhealthy pattern is developing in this White House — a trend that may very well have been a part of other presidencies as well — but what is happening today needs comment.

    Some journalists seem to be putting their self interest above their responsibilities to the public as well as their employers.

    As Howard Kurtz and Glenn Greenwald have both commented, many White House correspondents and other top tier journalists want to write Obama books.

    Anything with “Obama” on it is running at a huge premium in the book publication market.

    But the kind of books that sell need “inside access” and this is something that the communications team at the White House doles out minimally, and increasingly, only when favors are part of the arrangement.

    What I have learned after discussions over the last several days with several journalists who either have regular access to the White House or are part of the White House press corps is that there is a growing sense that access is traded for positive stories — or perhaps worse, an agreement that things learned will not be reported in the near term.

    robert-gibbs.jpgThe White House is working hard to secure deals that yield fluffy, feel good commentary about the Obama White House. One American White House reporter used colorful terms to describe the arrangement. The reporter said, “They want ‘blow jobs’ first [in the press sense]. Then you have to be on good behavior for a bit or be willing to deal, and then you get access.”

    “Axe” and “Gibbs” know who needs access to get their books pushed forward.

    They know who will pay for play — and are taking notes on who has been naughty and nice in their reporting.

    Edward Luce, Washington Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, who has been one of the few to resist the ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ offers from the White House has found himself in a dust-up with the White House for his recent article co-authored with Daniel Dombey, “US Foreign Policy: Waiting on a Sun King”.

    Luce was given access to one senior official for the piece, but because Luce reported that National Security Adviser Jim Jones may be on his way out and that Obama’s national security team lacks a top tier strategic thinker — other than Obama himself perhaps — Luce has been pummeled by the White House who think he violated a quid pro quo deal to do a fluff story in exchange for access.

    Luce reported to me, “The FT never does these kind of deals. ”


    Maybe this is the way communications is done, but the process is not healthy.

    The White House needs to go back and look at the conflict-of-interest riddled Fannie Mae in which public interest and private gain got stewed together and undermined the interests of American citizens.

    This kind of thing can blow up. On the other hand, these trends can easily be turned around.

    The White House needs to do its part and provide access based on the merits of high quality, even hard-hitting analysis and reporting, not on seduction.

    So it took from the time of his DNC speech in 2004 until now to report the obvious? Unhealthy relationship with the media? You don’t say… someone please let the cynical pragmatists know that media darling doesn’t go in the “pros” column.

    • And to bring your story into the topic at hand, after the media had at the Clintons and now W was installed, some beltway maven remarked that “the media is now “castrated”. I believe in “Obama Era” they also have to wear their balls on their heads so they can come in the “inner circle”

    • Once again I have to ask, what about the access bloggers?

      They were campaign supporters, but now they’re supposed to be objective commentators?

      (And don’t give me any shit about bloggers like Atrios and Digby being “neutral” during the primaries.)

    • not surprising … Gwen Ifill’s huge conflict of interest during the debates comes to mind here.

    • Oh, check it out. John Cole at Buffoon Juice thinks media corruption is okay since he likes the current occupant of the White House.

      (He liked the last one too, until about 2007, but he still hates the guy before that.)

  18. Great post, myiq! You explained it all so clearly. But progs would rather read ludicrous revisions of history in which Chris Bowers, BTD, and their ilk twist themselves into pretzels.

  19. Just a couple notes re: welfare reform since the idea emanated from WI. In fact, ex-Wi gov Tommy Thompson (R) takes credit for it. Most of the success has been from the added Clinton initiatives like free transportation and daycare provided to those in the program. However, the problems really came up due to lack of oversight. Many of the private program providers (i.e., Maxim in WI) had little to no oversight and the administrators were found to be paying themselves gross salaries as well as other perks. Also the administrators were not following through when parents were found to have encountered difficulties due to unforeseen situations and then lost the companion pieces to the W2 program (i.e., missing work due to their children’s illness, or their own, and then lost the benefits associated with perfect work attendance). Companies who participated were allowed to drop W2 participants from their roles, and the private program providers counted these as part of the “success stories.” In short, it was the lack of oversight (i.e., $ to auditors) that led to those gross abuses.

    But I still believe that overall, the welfare-to-work programs were based on a good idea and Clinton ensured the success that participants saw.

    • The GOP planned to use welfare reform as a wedge issue against Clinton in 1996.

      He preempted that, and succeeded in getting a bill that was a lot better than it could have been.

      • Absolutely. I didn’t mean to make it seem that this was a failure for Clinton. If anything, as you point out, it was yet another wedge issue he was able to turn around in his favor. The Clintons know that people need work to increase their self-esteem. That’s just the reality of the world, and I believe that Big Dawg was so tuned into this due to his own background. NO one forgets growing up on welfare.

      • & one other point, my understanding is that Gov. Thompson actually co-opted the idea from WI Assembly Dems who had been floating it around for years. (That was a bit before my time though, so that fact may be a bit muddled.).

      • Another interesting thing about ’96 is Bill ran campaign ads well before he had to…good ones too!
        He did an ender round on the unrelenting negative press…boy, were they pissed that their carefully crafted ” narrative” was circumvented. I remember in the early days of Bill’s first term, Molly Ivins wrote an article about the purposely negative press and one example she offered was pointing out how many reporters her paper had working white water ( 5) and stated this were be seen as over kill if their beat was the 2nd coming . Indeed.

      • The first thing Bush did when he got into office was strip the childcare subsidies, sending many of those who were employed back onto welfare. Without the subsidies, it was more expensive to work. Poverty levels rose rather quickly from that point.
        Big Dawg knew how to develop solutions. Real solutions to real problems.

  20. This is an EXCELLENT myiq. Thanks for setting the record straight.

    I remember seeing an Impeach Clinton bumper sticker BEFORE he was even inaugrated.

    I know you could not put everything in this post, but another huge achievement of Clinton was helping to reduce crime in America by funding more police officers and making money available to local police to takput anti-crime iniativies into place in local communities. Police officers liked him so much he was even endorsed by them. Clinton turned the old canard that Democrats are soft on crime on its head.

    Give me Bill or Hillary any day.

  21. MyIq, most excellent piece. It is good to be reminded of the finer points that are all too often missed by those who were too busy conquering their big boy pull-ups.

    Another take on the history quote, “History doesn’t really repeat itself. History only seems to repeat itself to those who don’t know history.”

  22. RIP:

    John Forsythe, the handsome, smooth-voiced actor who made his fortune as the scheming oil tycoon in TV’s “Dynasty” and the voice of the leader of “Charlie’s Angels,” has died after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 92.

    • I had no idea he was still alive! I thought he’d be much much older than that.

      Since I’m so old myself, I remember him as “Bachelor Father.”

  23. Thank you for this much needed post. Who are they kidding? When it looked like Bill was kicking the bucket awhile back, the world collectively gasped…
    No Bill Clinton in the world??aaaggghh! Code blue!Plus the dim bulbs in the progressive blogosphere cannot bring themselves to say the obvious, that Obama is Bush 3.5…so when they are really furious at those around Obama( never Barry of course) and stamp their feet, they worry The One will become another Bill Clinton! HA! no worries on that score , if only.

  24. MyIQ: This is brilliant. This is really a great post. Excellent line:

    Bush, on the other hand, went from hero to zero in public approval ratings.

  25. Remember the time on the blogs prior to 2008? The progs would laugh hysterically at the Republicans for blaming everything on Clinton. Now the progs are repeating the same line, “…bbbbbut Clinton…”!

    • Well, after throwing everything they had into blind support for an incompetent sell-out, “Blame Clinton” is
      about all they’ve got left when Cold, Hard Reality comes a knockin’. Luckily for them, Clinton-bashing is so common and cliche, that it’s considered no more than a standard, opening punchline to the “yeah, but” defense throughout the corporate media and blogosphere.

      True Believer syndromes #12 & 35.

  26. Blue Lyon:

    Seriously, the Republicans got a two-fer. They got the Democrats to pass their plan, and they get to run against it in November.

  27. Crazed right-winger Bob Somerby on Koppelman and Digby:

    What program was our side watching: We had planned to discuss this fascinating piece about the causes of health care over-spending. But we were stunned by Alex Koppelman’s short review, in this morning’s Salon, of Sarah Palin’s Fox special last night.

    Koppelman’s review is only six paragraphs long. Having read it, we have no idea what program Koppelman watched.


    In this later post, Digby has moved to full-tilt derision. Stout is now described as “our sweet little teabagger lady,” and all is right again with the world. All except those Gallup results—results which follow our insults and condescension much as day follows night.

    For better or worse, this country is full of people like Stout—and such people vote. Often, these people aren’t all that sharp—but then, we aren’t all that sharp either. And yes, these people do get conned by the “very, very carefully thought-out public relations tactics” described by Hoggan.

    BTW – Somerby is no wingnut and he practically invented political blogging.

    • Seems to be a fundamental issue of credibility in the political blogosphere on all sides, and it doesn’t appear to be self correcting. I assume it’s always been this way. That’s too bad.

    • Well I fully believe that polls can be bullsh*t…but the #1 question you have to ask yourself is what reason would the org have for bullsh*tting you. And I can’t think of a convincing reason why Gallup would BS about the tea-partiers…

      Can you?

      ….maybe to raise Digby’s hackles?

      I found the teapartier woman amusing, every bit as amusing as the astroturfers of the Obama campaign. I don’t trust that her efforts are grassroots. I don’t trus ANY political organization anymore.

    • Sad. really. Somerby NAILS Digby.

      All she HAS is derision, now, much like The One. It’s the “new cool.”

      Digby coulda been a real contender, actually reading the HC bill, analyzing, explaining.

      She CHOSE derision, cuz that’s what her followers like the most. It’s actually intellectually lazy, but she doesn’t know people know that.

  28. As for Gore, it was never Nadar’s fault and certainly not Clinton’s fault. It was Gore’s.

  29. anti-obama ad featuring hillary circa 2008

  30. He did a lot of courageous things.

  31. Thank you for this write-up. Brings things into focus and reminds me of some things I’d forgotten.

    I’d meant to say this earlier today when I read your post.

    • I mostly did it from memory, having actually been alive during those years.

      I think I’ll update it tomorrow to add all the things in the comments I had left out.

      • Did that from memory? Wow. Clearly you have not taken enough drugs. I’ve long since killed those brain cells. Ah the stories I could tell…. wait, no I couldn’t. Damn.

    • It’s endless isn’t it? {{{sigh}}} I love that man.

      • The Clinton worship on this site puts the obamabots to shame, seriously.

        • We don’t worship Bill but if we did it’s cuz he earned it. He was the second-best President of the 20th Century and the fifth or sixth best POTUS ever.

          FDR was the best POTUS of the 20th Century and the third best ever. (Abe and the original George W. were #1 and #2)

          • Correction – I *do* worship Clinton. and I have the “altar” in my home to prove it.

          • And myiq, you forgot one classification. Bill was the greatest president of our generation.

        • SoD, Congrats! You’ve been characterized as a Clinton worshipper and a Clinton trasher all in same 24 hours… you’ve reached that 11th dimension of the happy middle ground where unicorns fall from the sky while you bipartisan yourself.

    • “We saw standing before us, President Bill Clinton. We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end.”

      • If Lois Lane ever gave a press conference describing how it felt when Superman swooped in to rescue her, that is exactly how she would sound.

    • someone has already gotten to that and done this with it:

      Barack Obama Looking At Awesome Things

      Barack Obama Looking at Awesome Things
  32. From Bill’s memoir:

    One July day, Lynda Dixon told me that Roger Porter was on the phone from the White House. As I’ve said, I had worked with Roger on the education goals project and had a high regard for his ability to be loyal to the President and still work with the governors. Roger asked me if I was going to run for President in 1992. I told him that I hadn’t decided, that I was happier being governor than I’d been in years, that my family life was good and I was reluctant to disrupt it, but that I thought the White House was being too passive in dealing with the country’s economic and social problems. I said I thought the President should use the enormous political capital he had as a result of the Gulf War to tackle the country’s big issues. After five or ten minutes of what I thought was a serious conversation, Roger cut it off and got to the point. I’ll never forget the first words of the message he had been designated to deliver: “Cut the crap, Governor.” He said “they” had reviewed all the potential candidates against the President. Governor Cuomo was the most powerful speaker, but they could paint him as too liberal. All the senators could be defeated by attacks on their voting records. But I was different. With a strong record in economic development, education, and crime, and a strong DLC message, I actually had a chance to win. So if I ran, they would have to destroy me personally. “Here’s how Washington works,” he said. “The press has to have somebody in every election, and we’re going to give them you.” He went on to say the press were elitists who would believe any tales they were told about backwater Arkansas. “We’ll spend whatever we have to spend to get whoever we have to get to say whatever they have to say to take you out. And we’ll do it early.”

    I tried to stay calm, but I was mad. I told Roger that what he had just said showed what was wrong with the administration. They had been in power so long they thought they were entitled to it. I said, “You think those parking spaces off the West Wing are yours, but they belong to the American people, and you have to earn the right to use them.” I told Roger that what he had said made me more likely to run. Roger said that was a nice sentiment, but he was calling as my friend to give me fair warning. If I waited until 1996, I could win the presidency. If I ran in 1992, they would destroy me, and my political career would be over.

  33. Its always important to remember the great opposition that Bill met from powerful U.S. Senators from his own party. Senator Sam Nunn, Senator Daniel Moynihan, Senator David Boren and of course, Ted Kennedy.

    Every time I hear about Ted’s “life work” on health care reform I want to throw something at the tv given that he sat out (stalled) the Clinton’s effort to pass reform.

    Already serving when Bill arrived – Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, Bill Bradley, Robert Byrd, Patrick Leahy, and several southern so-called Democrats. Each and every one determined to show the hayseed from Arkansas a lesson.

    This group gave us people like Louie Freeh (FBI head and member of Opus Dei) who helped the House Handlers with impeachment (Dan Burton) and George Tenet (forced on Bill by Senator Boren).

    Got to stop now – it pisses me off.

    • Bush 2 got more help from the Dems on the hill in any two week peroid of his 8 years, than Bill got in all of his 8 years.imo

    • Yes. Hillary’s attempt at heathcare failed, not because of Republicans, but because THOSE Democrats resolved to undermine her efforts. They joined with the Repubs to block her.

      Obots are too stupid to know that.

      • silly, mary…obots don’t do facts.
        facts are for conflucians

        • LOL

        • No, they don’t. It wouldn’t fit into the talking points fed to them daily by Plouffe/Axelrod/Gibbs.

          Which, of course, makes them even dimmer than wingnuts, in my opinion.

  34. Thank you, myiq. I love Bill and sorely miss him. Millions do.

    Btw, the problem with NAFTA was and is enforcement. the environmental and labor provisions in it haven’t been enforced in years.

    I think Obama is so jealous of Bill-you can almost feel it in his refusal to give him credit for anything. I also think it kills the ‘village’ that they were never able to stop the people from having such positive feelings about the Clintons. I would have wallowed more in those years if I knew how bad it would become later.

    • Bill openly supported NAFTA during the 1992 campaign. Whether you agree with it or not the Big Dawg never lied about his support for the treaty.

      Unlike Obama, who pretended to be against it.

  35. Another thing about Bill and Hillary..they respect voters..they ASK for your vote , then earn your next vote.
    Amazing! Which of course is another thing the upper crust hates about them . The whole concept of asking voters for their vote , or even noticing the peon’s existence …makes the upper crust violently ill…as we saw in the 90’s.

  36. The progs have to keep knocking down Clinton, to keep the populace from looking at the loser that they have put in the WH……

  37. As we’re all learning, the media and some operatives (Congress) easily take advantage of our poor history lessons being taught today. Most of these Obamaphiles are young. After Reagan, the Republican Congress started naming anything and everything not nailed down after Reagan. We’ve got Reagan libraries all over the country, streets, highways and airports named after him, schools too. Since the kids see all this, they assume he must’ve been our greatest President ever. Nobody mentions the debt he left us with. The military buildup and the social polarization and the mean streak he had for the poor and uneducated. Even Obama jumped on that bandwagon. Why doesn’t anybody ask why Bush Sr. had to raise taxes? Iran contra? Saddam Hussein? All on Reagan’s watch. During his Presidency, I said that anybody can make themselves look successful if they live on credit, one day the bill will have to be paid.
    Then there is 2000 when the media gored Gore. I accepted the election of Bush even though I live in Florida, but the fact that the 2004 election was even close was a pathetic statement of the electorate. (although we were saved from Kerry/Edwards). Then along came 2008 when we saw a smart, great Democrat treated by her own party like scum using the revisionist history Republicans have used time and time again. Now I fear there will not be a decent Democrat elected again for years to come.

    • yes, the media gored Gore but I’ve yet to see evidence that he really tried to win. It shouldn’t have come down to Florida…it never should have been that close.

      • Winning Arkansas or Tennessee would have clinched it for him. Not letting Clinton campaign for him was suicidal.

        • No, NO VP runs for president with his boss tagging along. It’s no done, it makes the person look like they are running for flunkie. I wish people would think before they just keep saying that stupid talking point over and over.

          There are polls that PROVE that had Gore campaigned with Clinton independents would have flocked to Bush.
          And here is another fact…..Clinton did campaign for him in Arkansas. It didn’t help. Clinton’s rep has been rehabbed, but in 2000, despite his high job ratings, there really was a great deal of undeserved Clinton fatigue.
          In addition, Gore had moved much farther left during his years at the white house and there was no fucking way he was going to win TN. without turning off all liberals with religious and pro-business pandering.

      • how old were you then, all of 12? You can not have been paying that much attention and history has been rewritten by people who have a stake in making Gore look bad. Not everyone in the Clinton white house was on Gore’s side during that time and those “Gore ran a bad campaign” talking points that don’t even make sense if you look at the numbers, come right from them.
        Gore won Florida and of course it came down to Florida, it ALWAYS comes down to Florida, Ohio and PA.
        Gore got more votes than Clinton in either 92 or 96. Gore won. Gore ran exactly the campaign he had to run. Had Nader shut the fuck up and the media not helped pump up the hysteria about Gore trying to steal florida, we would all be talking about what a brilliant strategist he was.

    • Amen.

  38. I meant to thank you for this post.

  39. Yes, I miss Bill Clinton too. He was the best Potus for both parties. He tried to listen to the republicans even when they were trying desparately to kill his Presidency.

  40. Depressing, isn’t it?

    I had to stop reading Bob Somerby because I couldn’t take it anymore.

    Every post he would point out the print and broadcast media’s lies and deceptions and noting would change.

    He did say he got some response to his criticisms but he never named names.

    That was back in 1999-2000 and the media hasn’t changed, in fact if you count Fox and Talk Radio as media, it’s worse with the lies.

    On a positive note, I got my repro wheels for my collectible 1960’s car, they look great. I used the money I was going to donate to the Democratic Party.

    Note to Indigo:

    When the media attacks, ruthlessly and with no regard for the truth, there isn’t much a candidate can do.
    If he or she responds to the accusations, it gives them credibility, if they ignore them it’s considered avoiding the issue. If they call the media out for the liars they are it’s bullying.

  41. Great diary until you got to the part about Gore. Clinton, despite his high job approval ratings, had personal rating which were not as good. Polls showed that had Gore campaigned with Clinton independents would not have voted for him in the numbers they did.
    Had Gore gotten the electoral votes he earned in Florida you and everyone else who parrots the “Gore ran a bad campaign” talking point would be saying just the opposite. In fact it makes no sense to say he ran a bad campaign when he actually won, and by much higher numbers than Clinton ever did. (and I am a big Clinton fan…but facts are facts) Of course there was no Perot in the race for Gore.
    What Gore faced was worse, a media which despised him for being smarter than them, who ganged up on him because “it was fun” (to quote the toxic and vapid Margaret Carlson)” and because they could, just like they did to Hillary in 2008, just like they did to Kerry in 2004….but Gore won anyway.
    What cost Us and Gore the election in 2000 was one thing and one thing only, Nader’s campaign LYING to the left about who Gore was and the idiotic left believing him.
    Polls in 2000, exit polls, showed that had Nader kept his PROMISE to stay out of Florida if the race became close, Gore would have had a HUGE percentage of his naive voters, we would not have had 8 years of bush and we probably would not have Obama now.

    Other than that, terrific post and I wish I could force many of my friends and relatives to read it.

    • IMHO, it wasn’t Nader’s fault, it was Donna B’s. Gore’s campaign should have let Bill campaign in Tennessee and Arkansas in the final days.

      • Yeah, really. As we’ve learned, nobody owes anyone their vote. Plus, it’s not like Nader’s voters are completely stupid and didn’t know FL was an important toss up state.

        • Plus, it’s not like Nader’s voters are completely stupid and didn’t know FL was an important toss up state.

          Lol, some of my Naderite friends were pretty clueless though. 😉 They seemed to have no idea what an empty suit Bush really was or that Gore was not the cartoon he was being made out to be in the media. I never thought the problem was Nader running, he had a right to run and have his say–the problem has been and continues to be the lack of critical thinking in the public discourse on the progressive side of things. The progs rallied around Nader over Gore, couldn’t get it together in 2004 (though in their defense, they didn’t have much to work with, since Kerry is the type to fight more for Obama than he fought for his own campaign), and then turned around and voted for Obama over McCain. Was 2008 Nader’s fault too? To me it seems like progs are going backwards in their understanding of the difference between the two parties, not forward. Nader was prescient in his message about the parties merging into some ugly indistinguishable monster on an organizational level. I thought there was a lot of truth to what he was saying, though it wsa imprecise about the difference between Gore and Bush specifically. But, the onus isn’t on Nader to make the case for that, it’s on the progressives to get a damn clue and stop repeating the same mistakes and expecting more progressive policies for it. Even when Nader was a nonfactor in 2008, the results are still the same lack of critical thinking.

  42. My top 5:

    FDR, Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson (for the LA Purchase mostly), and Truman. LBJ but for Vietnam would be in the number 4 slot, though that is a big “but.” Bill Clinton I’d put after Polk, Jackson, TR, Wilson, Adams Sr. , Ike, JFK and possibly Grant (in roughly that order). Still way ahead of RWR, either Bush, or Obama.

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