Obama Takes On The '90s

In my personal experience, one of the more common points I hear from friends who support Hillary Clinton is that they want a return to the 1990s. The first Bush made a mess of things, and President Clinton got us back on track. The second Bush made an even bigger mess of things, so maybe another President Clinton can repeat the cycle.

I can think of a lot of compelling reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton, but this one’s never worked for me. The times are different, the challenges are different, and HRC brings different skills and qualities to the table than BC. I loved the ’90s, but it’s unrealistic to think another Clinton presidency will turn back the clock to a bygone era of peace and prosperity. Would that it could.

But if my conversations are any indication, HRC supporters are moved by the argument far more than I am. My hunch is the Obama campaign is conducting polls and focus groups that are finding the same thing.

As a result, Obama is making a provocative move: his campaign is starting to argue more forcefully that the ’90s could have been a lot better.

In what may be Obama’s most direct and aggressive criticism of Bill Clinton’s presidency yet, the Obama campaign dropped a new mailer just before Super Tuesday that blasts “the Clintons” for wreaking massive losses on the Democratic party throughout the 1990s.

“8 years of the Clintons, major losses for Democrats across the nation,” reads the mailer, which goes on to list the post-1992 losses suffered by Dems among governors, Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

There’s nothing factually wrong with the mailing, but it’s a bold move anyway.

Greg has the images of the whole mailing, but the part that stands out reads:

8 years of the Clintons, major losses for Democrats across the nation.

Governors (-12 Ds)
30 Dems after the 1992 election
18 Dems after the 2000 election

U.S. Senators (-7 Ds)
57 Dems after the 1992 election
50 Dems after the 2000 election

↓ Story continues below ↓

Reps (-46 Ds)
258 Dems after the 1992 election
212 Dems after the 2000 election

I suspect the natural response would focus on criticizing Obama for criticizing the only two-term Democratic president of the last four decades. Bill Clinton is a party icon, the argument goes, so Obama’s party loyalties look shaky with criticism like this.

But notice, the Obama campaign mailing is going after Clinton from the left. After the Reagan and “party of ideas” flaps from a couple of weeks ago, this is a far more partisan message from Obama — if we want to help elect more Dems, the Clintons’ track record doesn’t offer much hope.

In this sense, the mailing seems to thread the needle carefully — criticizing the Dems’ #1 leader, but from an exclusively pro-Dem perspective. We’ll see if this works.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.