Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 26, 2001 / 5 Tamuz, 5761

Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

How best to honor Bill Clinton? -- "SINCE Bill Clinton left office, we've been through a lot together," writes political consultant James Carville in his letter to me.

But Clinton supporters "have much to be proud of." So please give to the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation. James breathlessly describes Bill Clinton's achievements.

The ex-president "is the most extraordinary political leader I've ever known." He "transformed America."

Etc., etc. For this reason, James continues, "It's time for close friends of Bill Clinton like you and me to commemorate his achievements and lay the ground work for the next stage of his remarkable life of public service."

By funding the Clinton library. Actually, I'm not a close friend of Bill Clinton. But I am happy that I've ended up on the Carville mailing list. I can't imagine better late-night entertainment. Consider the domestic Clinton record.

According to Mr. Carville: "When Bill Clinton left office, we were finishing the longest economic expansion in American history, had the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years, the highest home ownership in history, the first back-to-back balanced budgets and surpluses in 42 years, and were on a path to eliminate the national debt within a decade."

All of this is true. But what did Bill Clinton have to do with it? The wrenching restructuring that turned the United States into an international economic dynamo occurred during the Reagan years. The "longest economic expansion in American history" actually began under President George Bush. To his credit, Bill Clinton didn't mess everything up with old left-wing Democratic policies. But it was the Democratic Congress that stopped him from implementing some of his dumbest ideas, such as nationalizing the health-care system.

The positive achievements - welfare reform, a balanced budget - came only after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994. How about Bill Clinton's foreign policy record? Here, too, James Carville lapses into rapturous hyperbole: Under Bill Clinton's "leadership, America once again became a positive force in the world. He moved Northern Ireland closer than ever to lasting peace. No president worked more tirelessly to achieve peace in the Middle East. He restored democracy in Haiti, ended ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, saw the dictator who promoted it overthrown, and developed new partnerships with nations in Africa and Latin America."

Obviously Carville is practicing as a stand-up comic. The key to peace in Northern Ireland, assuming it holds, is war-weariness of Catholics and Protestants alike. The Middle East may be further away from peace than when Bill Clinton took office. Haiti now suffers under a presidential dictatorship. Ethnic cleansing has continued apace in Kosovo, only under the aegis of America and its NATO allies. U.S. intervention generated nationalist sentiments that made it harder to overthrow Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Whatever new partnerships were developed in Africa have largely disintegrated as conflict and disease stalk that tragic continent. Some record. Some achievements.

The only place where James uses understatement is his veiled reference to some of the more, er, controversial problems that bedeviled the administration. Let's see. The first couple in Arkansas cheated on their income taxes, were paid off by the local business establishment, and engaged in a variety of dubious dealings involving the Whitewater development, which was originally intended to enrich the Clintons in return for political favors.

Gov. Bill Clinton harassed one woman and maybe raped another. When the Clintons came to Washington, D.C., they attempted to impede an investigation of their prior activities. They hid subpoenaed evidence.

Scandals became their hallmark: the firing of the travel office staff, the misuse of FBI files, attacks on the First Amendment rights of their critics, dubious campaign fund-raising practices. Their aides lied relentlessly when questioned about administration behavior. Then there was the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Not sex in the Oval Office, but perjury and obstruction of justice.

The president shamelessly violated the law, while claiming to be defending the Constitution. All this was capped by the Clintons' squalid departure from Washington. Still, think of the future, James Carville suggests.

"I can't begin to tell you everything Bill Clinton will get involved with or accomplish in the years to come. I'm not even sure he knows."

I don't know either. But if the past is prologue, he will embarrass himself, his family, and his country. He will continue a life notable for its enormous potential, but shocking results.

How best to honor "President Clinton's remarkable achievements," as James would have us do?

Encourage Bill Clinton to shut up and fade away. And leave the rest of us to rebuild the moral culture and rule of law which he did so much to destroy.

JWR contributor Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Comment by clicking here.


06/19/01: A maturing Europe?
06/15/01: Tell Beijing to mind its own business
06/06/01: Ukraine's boiling cauldron
05/31/01: Protecting privacy from Uncle Sam
05/22/01: America's Balkan quagmire
05/09/01: The Taiwanese flash point
05/01/01: Globalization serves the world's poor
04/24/01: Who's cheating whom?
04/10/01: The NCAA scam
04/03/01: Balkan stupidities
03/27/01: McCain doesn't want a 'risk for our country'
03/20/01: Dubious Korean alliances
03/06/01: Coercive patriotism
02/27/01: Bombing without end
02/20/01: A dose of misplaced outrage
02/13/01: Psst: Tax cuts for taxpayers. Pass-it-on
02/06/01: Bridging the unbridgeable gap
01/23/01: Left-wing demagoguery
01/16/01: The drug war problem
01/10/01: Politics and trade
01/03/01: Hope for liberty?
12/27/00: The debris of war
12/19/00: What's the rule of law for?
12/15/00: Ending silicone breast implant saga
12/05/00: Election may yield victor, but there are no winners
11/21/00: A Bush presidential mandate?
11/07/00: Exprienced Gore? Yeah, right
11/01/00: Interventionist follies
10/17/00: America's brightening prospects in Ukraine
10/11/00: GOP budget scandals
10/03/00: How a pharmaceutical 'crisis' was created
09/27/00: Clinton's empathy has helped nobody
09/13/00: AlGore's risky budget policies
09/05/00: Military readiness and Korean commitments
08/29/00: Let sleeping hypocrites lie
08/21/00: Targeting a journalistic pariah
08/15/00: European garrison for Kosovo?
08/08/00: Journalistic cleansing at the Boston Globe
08/04/00: Junk science on trial
06/22/00: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
06/15/00: The end of U.N. peacekeeping
06/07/00: The Clinton regulatory miasma
06/01/00: Administration stupidity, congressional cowardice
05/25/00: The silence of the international community
05/18/00: Protecting the next generation

05/11/00: Freer trade with China will advance human rights

05/04/00: How not to save the Constitution

04/28/00: American tripwire in Korea long ago disappeared: Why are we still involved?

04/18/00: Clinton administration believes the IRS is too gentle, wants more auditors

© 2000, Copley News Service