The Clinton Myth
Democrats carefully preserve political myths. This is how they raise up to greatness awful presidents like Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, and Clinton. (Even Democrats do not try to pretend that LBJ and Carter were anything but wretched presidents.) These five Democrat presidents, however, were anything but great.
Woodrow Wilson was an idealist, we are told, but Wilson re-segregated the federal civil service, showed the KKK-adoring Birth of a Nation in the White House, brought America into the First World War for no good reason, savaged the civil rights of those who opposed our involvement in the war, and then bungled the peace so badly that Mussolini and Hitler found the path to power easy by lambasting Wilson’s duplicity.
FDR, we are told, saved America from the Depression and won the Second World War, but FDR made the Depression much worse while debilitated federalism. He too attacked civil liberty. He waged war incompetently and negotiated a “peace” that left Hitler’s erstwhile ally, Stalin, in control of much of Europe. Truman’s indecisiveness led to the Korean War, which he then failed to win. JFK, the handsome young king of Camelot, failed at every presidential endeavor he attempted, leaving Castro in power, sending military advisors on a no-win mission in Vietnam, and almost causing a nuclear catastrophe in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Except for FDR, all these Democrats were political flops as well. Wilson, Truman, and JFK won their four presidential elections with a minority of the popular vote, and the first two also led Republicans back into control of Congress.
Bill Clinton presided over a failed presidency. Despite the luxury of the Reagan “Peace Dividend” and overwhelming strength in Congress after the 1992 election, Clinton did, really, nothing on his own. NAFTA was negotiated by two Republican presidents, not by Clinton. Welfare reform was forced on Clinton by a Republican Congress. The single domestic policy goal that Bill and Hillary sought, health care reform, failed.
Every foreign policy and national security problem under Clinton got worse. The newly freed Russia began as our friend and ended as our enemy. Clinton ignored the threat of radical Islam. He let North Korea make major strides toward becoming a nuclear power. He ignored genocide in the southern half of Sudan.
As Hillary plans to capitalize on the Clinton Myth, America ought to wonder what the heck she is thinking. Bill Clinton was a failure as president, just as Hillary Clinton was a failure as secretary of state. The real cachet of the Clinton Myth is the notion that the Clintons are very savvy politicians. Bill, in particular, is presented even by wise and good conservatives like Dr. Charles Krauthammer as a great politician.
This, too, is a myth. Consider Bill Clinton’s first run for office in 1974. Arkansas was one of the most solid Democrat states in the nation, and 1974 was Nixon’s second midterm at the Republican nadir of Watergate. In this most favorable environment, Bill Clinton lost. Although he was elected Arkansas attorney general and then governor, Bill Clinton also became the first Democrat in Arkansas state history to lose re-election as governor, to a neophyte Republican candidate.
Clinton won two presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but both times with less than half the popular vote (and both times against Republican candidates who ran pathetic campaigns). In between those minority elections, Clinton led his party to a 1994 debacle that swept his party out of power at virtually every level of federal and state elective offices.
Hillary’s political skills are even more pathetic. She handpicked New York, the most liberal big state in the nation, for her 2000 Senate run, but polls showed that she would have lost – and lost badly – had either Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Governor George Pataki run as the Republican candidate. Her 2006 re-election, the only other election she has ever won, was in a year in which Democrats regained both houses of Congress in George W. Bush’s second midterm debacle. Her coronation campaign in 2008 flopped when she was whipped not only by Obama, but by the execrable John Edwards.
Bill and Hillary both proved political poison in 2014: every time they showed up to help a candidate, that candidate seemed to lose. The Clinton Myth, the peculiar idea that Clintons, particularly Hillary, are successful political campaigners, will be shown in 2016 to be one of the silliest ideas in American political history.