How good a president was Bill Clinton?

By “championed,” I just meant “nominated and supported.” Looking back I kind of wish we’d shown the same cutthroat devotion to him as the right has for Trump, but that’s hard to do when you’re semi-intelligent and have scruples.

I’ve often thought that if Gore had won he’d have been crucified for 9/11, since his administration would have been seen as a continuation of Clinton’s and “they should have seen it coming.” But that’s a major derailment from the OP.

This is, of course, assuming that 9/11 would have happened in the exact same way as it did in reality with Gore as president. We’ll never know for sure, but I would like to think that if Gore had been delivered a report entitled “Bin Laden determined to Strike U.S.”, he would have said more to the guy who delivered it to him than “OK, you’ve covered your ass.”

Bill Clinton was handed a goldilocks economy. He was a fine caretaker president. He could have been much more if he hadn’t had those affairs, especially with Lewinsky.

I really liked him and when he looked us all in the eye for that one speech and said, “I did not have sex with that woman”, I believed him. So, when it turned out not to be true, I was really disappointed.

That said, he was a great speaker and campaigner and Al Gore shouldn’t have pushed him away from his campaign.

I think he was a mediocre president. He probably could have done something special in universal healthcare, but went nowhere. Don’t ask-don’t tell was a good step forward at the time, but was ultimately lacking.

That’s basically how I feel. In terms of his actual accomplishments and policies, he wasn’t anything in the least bit special. He was pretty centrist overall, which isn’t a bad thing.

But his administration overlapped with a period that saw a lot of positive things for most of the US- the rise of the internet and technology in general, combined with the post-Cold War peace dividend meant that economically, the US economy was doing better for most people than it had in decades. Plus, the post-Cold War period meant that there were no existential threats for the US, or even insidious terrorists lurking around (although they clearly were). Clinton’s administration corresponded to most of my twenties, and it felt a lot like a giant weight had been lifted; no more threat from the Soviets, and economic woes were essentially a thing of the past. It was a time of optimism all around.

So I feel like a lot of people give Clinton a lot of credit because he presided over that period, even though most of it was caused by stuff set in motion during earlier administrations, and Clinton himself didn’t really accomplish much or screw much up either.

I do think that the emphasis on change with his campaign after 12 years of Reagan & Bush meant that when things did change, people were also willing to attribute it to Clinton, when in fact most of it had nothing to do with Clinton.

I vaguely recall an editorial, maybe in the WSJ from the W years but I can’t find it, making the point that Clinton had signed more conservative bills than W.

Candidates for your list:
Welfare reform
GATT (maybe covered already)
Farm deregulation
Telecom deregulation

I’m not in a position to judge many of these.

The Elián González story is much more likely what cost Gore in Florida. You don’t mess with Cuban issues down there. I often think that if there hadn’t been a storm that day, and his mother had made it to shore with him, it all would have played out differently and no then W., possibly no Trump…it’s a huge and headache-inducing “what if?”

I’ve long thought that he had the most political talent of anybody in his generation.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, I read somewhere that he had practically begged Hillary’s campaign staff to pay more attention to the Rust Belt–but they ignored him.

Someone can fact check me on this but, IIRC, he didn’t send the tomahawks to take out bin Laden because he was afraid the Republicans would say he did it to distract from Lewinsky. What a statement about politics in America that someone avoids doing something good for fear of being accused of it being a distraction from having done something bad.

It’s like Spider-man. You can be a good Peter Parker, a good Spider-man, or a good combo. Some Presidents just use their great power (Reagan, Clinton or Trump). Some have Great Responsibility in that they try to do good and helpful things without throwing their weight around too much, even if it cuts into their success (Or try to do so) like Lincoln or Obama. Some do both (can’t think of one right now).

This may be a terrible analogy, though.

Maybe LBJ?

That works. I was unable to think in that my headfiller-thing wasn’t working.

That seems silly given what he did here.

But that was in August, while the scandal broke in January. I’m guessing the intel on bin Laden’s whereabouts was closer to Jan. I can’t recall where I read this unfortunately.

I think what you missed is that Bill Clinton’s admission of guilt was 3 days before that attack occurred. On August 17, he gave a televised announcement that he had a relationship with Lewinsky that was “not appropriate”. On August 20, he launched missiles against Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and against that medicine factory in Sudan.

It’s clear that he wasn’t worried about military action looking like a distraction against the scandal. Because he quickly followed a figurative bombshell with literal missile attacks.

Bill Clinton was a very lucky President. He won an election that was split by a credible and well financed third party candidate. Whether he would have won had Perot not run is a coin flip if you ask me.

Clinton inherited an economy that was already beginning an upward tick. It probably would have been better faster had he not bogged it down with a massive tax hike.

He became POTUS at the dawn of computer and technological changes which influenced society and the economy.

And don’t forget, after January of 1993 congress was in Republican control on both sides. If you like the things that got done during that time it’s fair to give them more credit than Clinton.

Bill Clinton slithered into the White House at the right time in history. And I mean slithered. I remember watching him at the very beginning of the Democratic primaries in '92. I thought “no way this scumbag gets the nomination”. He just came across like a crooked used car salesman. Or Mr Haney from Green Acres.

His pointless “assault weapons” ban did make me a shit ton of money, though.

Well the calculus could well have been different at that point.

It is beyond me to parse out the full tangle of moralities involved.

However, others here have said that Clinton was (is?) outstandingly charismatic. There is plenty written by women about how almost freakishly attracted to him they were. As one writer I read once put it, she was once in a room full of women, post scandal, post presidency. They should all have known far, far better but when he entered the room her impression was that he could have had any woman in the room he wanted.

What I’m getting at is - saying he “used his political skills to score with women” is probably a bit loaded and one sided, not least of all because it underplays the agency of the women involved.

Clearly insofar as he had power over the women concerned there is a good argument he shouldn’t have made any move on the women and if they’d made a move he should firmly have said ‘no’. But that is different from the question of whether he was somehow using illicit skills to be attractive - he was what he was.

Turn it around the other way - if a woman was very attractive and had a relationship that was inappropriate, what would you think if someone said it was her fault because she was using her attractiveness skills?

Clinton’s detractors predicted all kinds of dire consequences from the tax hike, which helped lower (and eventually eliminate) the deficit, for the first time since the Nixon administration.

In his Playboy interview right after the election, Rush Limbaugh challenged the DNC to a one million-dollar wager that four years later, the deficit would be higher, the stock market lower, interest rates higher, and unemployment higher. All four indices were the opposite of Rush’s predictions.

1995, not 1993.

Do you give the Democrats credit for Reagan’s accomplishments? They held both Houses for most of his administration.

Clinton wasn’t a great president, but he did better than his critics give him credit for.

Yep, you’re right.