Contents | February 2001
In This Issue (Contributors)
More on politics from The Atlantic Monthly.
From the archives:
"The Hidden Side of the Clinton Economy" (October 1998)
The official government measures of unemployment and poverty disguise the fact that millions of Americans can't make a decent living. By John E. Schwarz
From Atlantic Unbound:
Roundtable: "Does Clinton Matter?" (January 26, 2000)
The Atlantic Monthly's Jack Beatty, David Brooks of The Weekly Standard, David Corn of The Nation, and the historian Sean Wilentz of Princeton University take up the question of the Clinton legacy.
The Atlantic Monthly | February 2001
xperts will be chewing, and gnashing, over the legacy of Bill Clinton's presidency for years to come; Clinton himself will probably participate in the assessment for three or four decades. President Clinton probably "mattered," for ill and for good, in more ways than we think, and sometimes for reasons that may not be obvious. Proud, solicitous, shameless, intellectually agile, facile and articulate, duplicitous and shrewd, selfish, empathic, by at least some measures brilliant, Clinton stands apart from, and towers above, any other politician of his generation.
Bill Clinton and
During his presidency much changed. The era of politics that began with the New Deal, and defined government's role for sixty years, ended. What is now a liberal? It depends on what the meaning of "liberal" is. The President who ended welfare as we knew it, balanced the federal budget, and presided over a historic expansion of the prison population (and a historic decrease in crime rates) was no Reagan Republican but what was proudly called a New Democrat; and he set the example for an international revolution in politics that saw New Democrats rise over older generations of conservatives to redefine liberalism in Great Britain and Germany, too. America during these years led the world in a boom that achieved the seemingly impossible: a balanced federal budget, essentially zero unemployment, essentially zero inflation. The United States assumed the global role of keeper of the post-Cold War peace, a role guided by doctrine as yet unformed. The age of post-Watergate reforms ended: the new and unapologetically cynical boundaries for political cash harvesting that were set in the 1996 elections killed the campaign-finance laws; Kenneth Starr's investigation killed the special-prosecutor law. The practice of national politics, too, passed into a new age: the age of total war.
We asked a group of scholars, journalists, and essayists to assess some aspect of the Clinton presidency—the choice of subject matter was entirely up to them. What follows is not a debate or a roundtable but simply a collection of diverse voices expressing, as always with this President, divergent views.
Photographs by the former White House photographer Robert McNeely, from his book The Clinton Years.
Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; February 2001; Bill Clinton and His Consequences - 01.02; Volume 287, No. 2; page 45-69.