The Clinton Presidency's Legacy?


I recently decided to examine my feelings about William Jefferson Clinton and determine just what I thought his legacy as president might be. It was at this point that I realized that there isn't any one, single Bill Clinton but several. It was here, also, that I found that I could honestly state that I admired only one of them.

The Bill Clinton that ran for the office of U.S. President in 1992 was an honorable, progressive and kind man. He spoke of hope for our nation, of respect for those less fortunate. This was a man that any honorable American could respect. He appeared to want to improve the lives of all Americans, not just the wealthy few that the last two Republican administrations so cherished and unerringly served.

His first acts as President were, perhaps, too much too soon. Nevertheless, save for the vicious and rabid attacks from the far right with their hypocrisy regarding his lack of a "war record" (preferring to get an education as opposed to going thousands of miles away to kill innocent people), he began his first term trying to better the lives of the majority and the oppressed.

Having never served in the military he underestimated the astoundingly macho hatred that military personnel and Republicans have for those different from themselves. The mere thought of gays serving in "their" armed forces shook these individuals to their very foundations. Admitting that gays already made up a sizable percentage of the ranks should have been the initial step, leaving the next stage of allowing them to no longer hide who they are for a later, more Christian and loving time in American history.

The decision to provide health care for all Americans was another honorable endeavor that, although the initial plan was heavily flawed, was destroyed completely by a Congress far more interested in the filthy lucre from their HMO and insurance masters than in any attempt to compromise and actually alleviate the pain of millions of Americans. Remember old Bobby Dole standing beside his silly little poster which he claimed was the Republican health plan, the one he never actually explained but rather just spent his time ridiculing Clinton's plan? One of the true low points in America's history but a peek at the nastiness to come in 1994.

Speaking of 1994, that was the death of any positive behavior from Clinton. The Republicans took over Congress and old Bill saw that the American psyche had turned dark and vicious so he would begin leading the way by imitating the ultra-conservatives.

Suddenly, he fervently believed in the death penalty, although he admitted that there has never been even a single study that showed the slightest deterrent value in the state legally murdering convicts.

He suggested that kids be forced to provide urine samples for drug testing before allowing them a driver's license, even though the federal government has no part in this certification process and he was unable to provide a justification for suspending anyone's Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights. It got lots of applause from the far right but was quickly forgotten in the cornucopia of re- election promises.

In fact, Clinton has acquired an amazing indifference towards civil liberties in all their abundance. He has signed legislation that has vastly reduced the rights of habeas corpus, limited severly the rights of individuals convicted of a capital crime to employ their constitutional access to appeal courts, attempted to extend the government's intrusive wiretapping and signed into law the abortive attempt to destroy the First Amendment in the form of the so-called Communication Decency Act.

The 1992 Presidential candidate Clinton would have taken the opportunity of the CDA passage in Congress to lecture America on the absolute importance of the Constitution and its Amendments but the 1996 Clinton just signs whatever horror Congress sends him, smiles for the cameras and pretends he cares. He even had the audacity to make the sham claim that he "hopes he isn't hurting anyone" as he signed one of the nastiest, most backward and unenlightened welfare "reform" laws ever envisioned.

My determination as to Clinton's ultimate legacy? I suppose his presidency will be remembered as the final blow to kindness and American cooperation in trying to alleviate the suffering of the poor among us. I think he will be remembered as the first Democrat to happily cause the gulf between workers and the wealthy to widen dramatically while denigrating the very middle-class that has historically supported the party that he long ago abandoned. Finally, I believe that historians will point to his years in office as the end of civility and honest debate in America. Everywhere you look, people are exhibiting the undeniably nasty traits of hateful and aggressive behavior that Congress and the President have, by example, turned into the national substitute for humanity, deliberation and forgiveness.

Personally, I think our children will look back at what we have caused and be awe struck at our destructive and selfish tendencies. I hope that these few words can stand for my individual apology for what is being bequeathed to them.

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Copyright 7/15/97