How Effective Are The Clintons Anyway?

A reader writes:

I'm a lifelong Dem, and I'm baffled by how easily some are impressed by the Clintons. Yes, they "work their asses off," as your reader put it--but much of the time they're working at either their own elections or correcting their own mistakes. The Clinton years were economic boom years, and Clinton pursued some smart policies, such as balancing the budget. They also hired smart, effective people, as opposed to cronies. But Clinton benefited tremendously from the tech boom, which was driven by private industry and military R&D, and from the Soviet Union's economic and political implosion. For a short time--ah, yes, remember "The End of History"?--the U.S. was on top of the world.

But when it came to the tough stuff, how successful was Clinton, really, in showing leadership?

On issues where he could get Republican support, such as balancing the budget and welfare reform, he did well, but he never really swayed or led the country when it came to more controversial policy, whether it was health care (a fiasco!) or gays in the military.

His minor victories--say, increased financial aid for college students--were easily undone when the Republicans took over, thanks in no small part to his weakening of the Dem party. He failed to lead the West during the massacres of the Bosnian war.

His response to the growing Islamic terrorist network was anemic. After the deadly attack in Mogadishu, he ordered the military to flee Somalia. We spent the last two years of his presidency dealing with marital infidelity. (Did it ever occur to him and his wife to simply tell the truth and move on, not because it was our business, but because we had, as a nation, more important things to do?) He backed NAFTA without adequate labor and environmental provisions. He did little to help ease the transition for working class America as heavy industry declined and hi tech blossomed. His inability to gain respect in military circles (justly or no) helped further alienate the Democratic Party from our military establishment, to the point where many Americans think the Democrats are incompetent in times of danger.

Do we really want Clinton II?

And finally, what is Clinton II talking about when she says she's been "working for us" for 35 years? You mean, as a corporate lawyer at Rose Law firm in Little Rock? There's nothing wrong with that per se, but I really don't see how it amounted to serving the American people. Serving on corporate boards? Again, nothing wrong with that, but please, that was for "us"? Helping her husband weather scandals and crises? For us! And as a Senator, how has she really made a difference during the Bush years? By getting along with Lindsey Graham! Yay for us!!

I'm so disappointed at the nostalgia Democrats feel for the Clinton years. It is based on a most superficial reading of history. Does no one remember what that second term was like? Yeah, I back Obama, but I'd vote for Biden or Dodd in the primaries, too. We don't need to go "back to the future."