I voted for Former President Clinton twice. I regret it, but, as I look back on who I was—even as I was slowly evolving into a Republican—I can’t see how I would have done otherwise.
President Clinton was the right president for the time. The nineties were a time of optimism: the Iron Curtain had fallen and capitalism was in its second decade of ascendance. Granted, President Clinton presided over the good time of a nation that was the beneficiary of Reagan-Bush 41 policies. However, using his political skills and charisma, he told us that such good times could last. And many of us believed him.
But by the middle of his second term, the good times were visibly fraying. The communist threat was long gone, but another type of threat was making itself known in greater and greater ways. That threat had presented itself much earlier on American soil only one month after President Clinton’s first inauguration. But we were still too euphoric about our victory over the communists. The Warsaw Pact was no more and the USSR soon followed into oblivion. President Clinton saw that the terrorists of the first World Trade Center attack of 1993 were safely behind bars. But there were others; millions of others.
1998’s African atrocities were the first large-scale signal of the fact that the good times were only a front; the eye-opener that signaled that this “new” enemy was on the ascent. They perpetrated an even bolder attack on the US Navy in October 2000, four months before the end of President Clinton’s second term.
Then, some eight months after President Clinton left office, the “new” threat perpetrated its crowning strike against the United States of America.
Just as President Clinton’s administration was the heir to the actions/inactions of Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, so is President Bush 43 the heir to the same of President Clinton. Sorry, folks, but that’s how these things work; personally, professionally and politically.
(I know I said that I’d try not to be partisan, but President Clinton has that effect on me. I apologize.)
Okay, back to the nicey-nice: the great politician.
Much of President Clinton’s attributes consist of knowing what to say, how to say it, when to say it and when to keep his mouth shut. While much of those very important qualities were part of his two successful elections,they were never as apparently useful then as they have been in the first four years of his successor’s term.
While his vice-president shot off premature elocutions in the aftermath of the Clinton years—possibly permanently damaging that vice-president’s future status as presidential candidate or even as respected elder statesman—President Clinton has kept any negative thoughts that he may have about the sitting president to himself. He’s agreed with the president about his summation of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—probable because he said the same thing during his second term—kept quiet about the execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom and even expressed his liking of his successor.
And, the most politically intelligent thing that President Clinton has done is to accompany his former adversary to tsunami-ravaged Southeast Asia on a goodwill trip. Just lucky that his traveling companion happens to be the sitting president’s father.
Now I know that all my compliments of President Clinton’s political acumen sound cynical, but I don’t mean them to be. One has to genuinely admire such strategic thinking. I can even entertain the thought that the actions of the post-heart surgery President Clinton might be authenticity combined with his great ability to seize a moment.
Don’t believe me? Okay, well consider this: I actually liked the guy once, and when I heard that he was going under the surgeon’s knife, I actually prayed for him to come out alive and well.
Do I hear you saying that it was because I didn’t want to see all those tearful faces and prostrate bodies at a state funeral; that I didn’t want to see those heart-felt eulogies by the likes of James Carville,
James Woolsey, William Cohen and George Stephanopoulos?
How cynical you are!
Seriously, I think that President Clinton has more work to do. Only time will tell if it’s constructive; if his considerable intellect can be used for good.
(Links inserted tomorrow. I’m tired.)