Am I imagining it, or is the man who orchestrated the disastrous rightward shift of the Democratic Party and who while in office often seemed to focus more on expedient posturing and poll-watching accusing Obama of being too centrist?!?
The "liberal" president who did all but re-run Reagan’s infamous "welfare queen" ads in his quest to make the Democrats tough on the poor…sorry…"welfare abuse". Who abandoned a distinguished and eminently moderate appointee for a civil rights post and personal friend Lani Guinier the minute culture warriors on the Right balked. Who stooped to divisive race politics with Sista Soulja to burnish his centrist credentials during his own in order quest for the White House.
From a fascinating and–given Hillary’s own history of pragmatic concessions to the Right, most tragically exemplified in her consistent cheerleading for Bush’s warmongering and imperial foreign policy–painfully deja vu 1993 editorial from the National Catholic Reporter entitled "Without vision, Clinton’s presidency will perish":
left Janet Reno twisting in the Waco wind and everyone else carrying
their own bags after the White House travel office massacre. Then he
hung Lani Guinier, a personal friend, out to dry. Clinton said he finally got
around to reading some of Guinier’s work and he did not agree with a
number of her ideas. How revealing that in that same week he embraced
David Gergen, the spin doctor who helped sell the country Reaganomics
and a lot of other programs Clinton opposed in his presidential bid.
Clinton stumble across the country in his headlong flight toward the
political center is downright embarrassing. Errors in judgment and
tactical blunders from a largely young and inexperienced staff could
easily be forgiven. What is painful to watch is a man throwing off
principles and ideals, thrashing every which way but losse in a
desperate dance to placate Congress and spike the polls.
Guinier, a talented civil rights lawyer, up to head Justice’s civil
rights department was one of Clinton’s most inspired nominations, a
chance to regain some of the important rights the Reagan/Bush era ate
away. Sacrificing her to political expediency was a betrayal of far
more than a personal friend.
The list goes on. This man was the Emperor Palpatine of pandering to the Right and high-profile cave-ins to protect his middle-of-the-road credentials and he has the gall to accuse Barak Obama of not being liberal enough?
didn’t back down today as he took another swipe at Obama for courting
Republican voters in Nevada and for praising former President Reagan.
"[Hillary] won a victory in spite of a very well-organized, and I might
say a very well-executed strategy by the Obama campaign, which included
doing well in the north of Nevada, where his demographic of upscale
voters lived, and by making an explicit effort to get Republicans to
come and vote for him in the Democratic caucus," Clinton said Sunday
night during a campaign event for Hillary Clinton in Buffalo, N.Y.
Clinton then accused Obama of calling conservative darling Reagan a
better president than Clinton.
"[Obama] said President Reagan was the engine of innovation and did
more, had a more lasting impact on America than I did," Clinton said.
"And then the next day he said, ‘In the ’90s the good ideas came out
from the Republicans.’ Which it’ll be costly maybe down the road for
him because it’s factually not accurate."
And so what if Obama in the spirit of reaching across the aisle did imply the Gipper was a better president than Bill Clinton in some sense? I think most of us can thing of a few important senses where Reagon self-evidently was, regardless of our political leanings.
Now, as a liberal I happen to consider Reagon a disaster for this country in a host of respects, great and small. Under his leadership, the GOP and much of America’s political class jettisoned basic traditional values of responsible stewardship and social solidarity in favor of untrammeled greed and individualism, a fateful turn in American political life that continues to haunt our increasingly balkanized nation. His economic platform (once rightly dubbed by George Bush Sr. as "voodoo economics") has greatly undermined equality and justice, in my view, and created the "two Americas" that John Edwards often talks about.
And contrary to all these hosannas from the Right to him as if he were a reincarnation of Sun Tzu, his Cold War "leadership" amounted in my view to little more than Dr. No-esque brinkmanship that could have just as easily plunged us all into nuclear holocaust as led to the demise of the Soviet Union. In essence, he played, ahem, "Russian roulette" and won, which is hardly a brilliant (or even competent) strategy. Sure, the arms race he unleashed on the world ultimately bankrupted the USSR but this "strategy" was nothing of the sort. It was more the fortuitious byproduct of the USSR’s own internal problems than his vision. Endless Pentagon pork and saber rattling do not vision make.
But Reagan at least stood for some things, however wrongheaded they sometimes were. He didn’t sell out most of the causes to which he professed devotion. Nor did he philosophically gut his party and doom it to forever to debating with one arm tied behind its back, as it cowers in fear at the dreaded L-word. Clinton’s "reforms" reinforced a powerful and sinister anti-left bias in American political life and put his party at a severe long-term strategic disadvantage in order to make a few short-term gains.
Why should centrist voters go for conservative-aping, DLC-style democrats like Bill Clinton (and Hillary Clinton, for that matter) when they can just choose the real McCoy from the GOP? Thanks to the misbegotten revolution launched by Clinton and continued by Hillary the mainstream Dems can’t credibly claim to offer a real philosophical alternative. It happened with Kerry and it would happen again with Hillary. With American political "debate" often being based on pro-GOP talking points, they can only win when the Republicans discredit themselves.
And, it must be pointed out, Reagan did not personally bring disrepute to the institution of the Presidency, blatantly deceive the American people on national television, or come within a nanometer of committing perjury while serving as the head of the branch of American government charged with enforcement of law.
I think Reagan’s worldview and legacy are tragically wrongheaded and counterproductive, but at least I can respect him as a principled leader and a representative of another political orientation. He believed in things, fought for them, and was reasonably consistent in translating his platform into policy initiatives (whether successful implemented or not) . Can the same be said for our 42nd President, judging by either his record while in the White House or his cynical behavior today?