Well, you may or may not agree with these, but these are some of the things that I consider to be great things done under the Clinton Administration, my little “rah, rah” cheer:
[li]A fair tax cut, which finally righted the cynical disparity created by the Reagan Administration and reinforced by the “Read My Lips” Administration whereby taxes for the poor were ostensibly cut but payroll taxes were raised, keeping their tax burden the same while the burden on the wealthy was reduced. I think we can look forward to the sequel to the Reagan-Bush policy next Spring, despite the obvious success of the Clinton plan. (Someone likely sent you a trailer for that forthcoming episode in the mail this summer.)[/li]
[li]A genuine attempt to improve education, including an improved student loan program and a school anti-drug abuse program that appears to have actually worked. It’s also easier to get a federal grant in order to try to raise standards in bad schools. Furthermore, by nurturing the .edu end of the Internet, information of all sorts is now available to even the poorest and most remote American schools, as well as many around the world.[/li]
[li]While not perfect, one only has to look at the forthcoming fire-sale on federal land to know that Clinton’s record on our natural resources was the best we’ve had since Teddy Roosevelt. One of the lesser-known hallmarks of the Clinton Administration was a streamlined process for protecting historical and natural landmarks. For a time, I personally witnessed a transformation within the EPA whereby that agency was slowly transforming itself into an organization that works with businesses and individuals instead of against them (or works not at all, but because of Clinton’s reworking, our current President won’t have to render the EPA permanently toothless in order to pay off his benefactors).[/li]
[li]“It’s the economy, stupid.” While no president other than Ronald Reagan is allowed to take credit for the economy, one cannot deny that the eight years under Clinton were sweeeet, and there is no denying that the times immediately before–and now, it looks like, after–his tenure sucked. By reducing taxes on the poor and reforming welfare, many lower income people were allowed to improve their lot dramatically, while by rigidly keeping out the bloodthirsty Internet taxers an entirely new form of commerce was created. Moreover, in contrast to my perception of the two prior Administrations, new wealth was created among people who didn’t have it before. Already wealthy people still got richer, too. I maintain that this phenomenon was in fact orchestrated in large part by Clinton himself through his manipulation of taxation, regulation, and federal subsidy. Oh, yeah. Some will try to tell you that the economy was already improving, but somehow nobody actually noticed until Clinton’s economic stimulus package was passed in Congress.[/li]
[li]The real kinder, gentler America. For a while there, it looked like an honest version of the Monroe Doctrine was going to spread worldwide. Briefly, America had the wealth and the inclination to try to keep the peace and make the world a better place. There were failures, like in Rwanda and Somalia, but there was also a resounding success: the eventual stabilization of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. No, those places aren’t entirely peaceful, prosperous, or happy, but they aren’t all war-scarred anarchies, either. America, and Clinton, played a role in that. Oh, and by the way, most of the new nation-states created in the wake of the fall of Communism are democracies. Thanks also to our buddy Jesse Helms and his consistent blocking and delay of diplomatic appointments, we have to give the President a great deal of personal credit for these things.[/li]
(“Stability,” incidentally, is not generally noticed, but when one considers the grand-scale rape and pillage of Eastern Europe and Central Asia perpetrated by the Soviet Union, the lack of a complete meltdown in those regions should be considered a foreign policy triumph on the part of the First World, and Clinton. Another example is the quick and eventually profitable bail-out of Mexico, which could have been a disaster but wasn’t.)
Just you sit back and wait, people. Eventually, we are all going to be astounded at the degree of personal interest–and influence–that Bill Clinton placed on virtually all issues of his day. Unlike any President before–or after–him since Franklin Roosevelt, Clinton personally took the reigns of his office and successfully rode things through without a single major setback for his nation. The future’s perspective of the Clinton Administration may well turn out to be that for a little while, America had both a single, decent heart and brain.
And I suspect we are going to discover by later comparison just how difficult a job that was. The Clinton Era is already proving to have been the best of times, and unlike many of his predecessors, Clinton had a hand in virtually all of it–including Monica.