The Bill Clinton Myth: He Didn't Start Governing From The Far Left When He Came Into Office

You've probably been hearing a lot of Republican talking points that rewrite history by saying that as soon as Bill Clinton came into office, he ado

Hippie Bus_c40df.jpg

You've probably been hearing a lot of Republican talking points that rewrite history by saying that as soon as Bill Clinton came into office, he adopted a loony left-wing agenda that was rejected immediately, and he suffered for it. The Villagers and right wingers are thus warning Obama to govern like Republicans (which, if you think about it, would mean giving the other side of the aisle the hot poker while proceeding with the most extreme agenda imaginable).

Bill O'Reilly and his pals are so very afraid of Obama's upcoming agenda. After all, look how great our country is running right now after eight years of Bush. Check out the jobless statistics today. It's staggering.

As I see it, Obama is not as progressive as I am, not if you look at his voting record, but is a moderate Democrat and will probably govern that way. Howie Klein and I wrote a piece back in May that outlined Obama's record when FOX and pals were trying to scare the country into thinking that Barack was the most liberal Senator in Congress so you should be very afraid. That argument didn't work too well even to Conservatives. Nearly Half of Conservatives Confident in Obama

Anatomy of a Right Wing Myth: Obama is the most liberal Democratic Senator

Lately John and I have been gnashing our collective teeth every time we see one of the Republican shills on TV repeating, mantra-like, the #1 GOP Big Lie of the campaign: "Barack Obama is the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate."

If only! Actually there are 39 Democrats with more liberal voting records, although Obama does at least beat perennial Bush rubber stamps Holy Joe Lieberman (CT), Ben Nelson (NE) and Mary Landrieu (LA). His voting record-- however you slice it, however you dice it-- points to a solidly mainstream centrist...read on

I know I'll disagree with some of his policies as he moves forward, but that's to be expected.

Digby writes an excellent piece that outlines what happened when Bill Clinton took office.

Jonathan Schwarz addresses this myth that Clinton came in and tried to do all this crazy leftist stuff which resulted in his losing the 1994 election. It's driving me nuts:

Their latest masterpiece is the Terrifying True Tale of How the Early Clinton Administration Was Crippled by Liberals. You see, Bill Clinton began his presidency by giving into his wild-eyed leftist instincts. But the wise American people rejected his class warfare! They punished him and the Democrats by giving control of congress to Republicans in the 1994 midterm elections. So Clinton sobered up and governed from the center. Obama better not repeat Clinton's mistakes by giving into the left! The End.

In reality, of course, Clinton knuckled under to the center right—much of which was located within the Democratic party—from the very beginning. Following their advice, he went all out to pass NAFTA, then failed to pass universal health care. People who'd been desperate in 1992 saw no economic improvement by 1994. And with the low 45% voter turnout in the midterms, the Democrats lost control of Congress (mostly via the defeat of center right Democrats).

Here's an especially fine example of the Terrifying True Tale, by John Heilemann in New York Magazine. Heilemann deserves extra credit for berating people who remember history for not remembering history...read on

In actuality, it was the moderate members of the Democratic party who helped to derail his agenda. Many of them wound up being washed out in the 1994 GOP tide their own ineffectiveness helped create.

More Digby:

I'm not saying that Clinton didn't screw up. But if you look at what he actually did, it wasn't playing too far to the left. He was one of the architects of DLC corporate politics and made a veritable fetish out of appeasing big business and wingnuts. It's that he couldn't manage his own Democratic egomaniacs, mostly in the Senate, and he allowed the Republicans and the villagers to poison the public against his program before he even had a chance to implement it, despite his constant capitulation to their demands. He could never control the narrative and it narrowed his options to small bore, incrementalist centrism, which is as far to the left as the political establishment wants any Democrat to go.

Please read the whole thing. I believe it's important because so much of what happened is being left out at a crucial time in our history.

About John Amato

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.