To: The American Electorate
From: Mitch Berg, Guy Who Was Of Cognitive Age In 1992
Re: The “Clinton Years”
Michael Barone, writing about the putative Hillary Clinton juggernaut:
It seems that Clinton’s standing reflects less on current judgments of Obama and more on rosy retrospective ratings of the presidency of Bill Clinton. Voters may not be eager for a third Obama term, but might like a third Clinton term.
Now, many of you weren’t adults – or at least not paying attention to politics – between 1992 and 2000 (especially in Minnesota, considering who we elected goverrnor in 1998). You may have been fed a lot of gauzy beatifics about “the Clinton Years”; they were prosperous and peaceful.
Let’s be clear on why that was.
Twang: Bill Clinton was a Democrat – but he was no Barack Obama. He was part of the “Democrat Leadership Conference”, a moderate, business-friendly caucus of Democrat pols and advocates. The DLC has, by the way, been completely extinguished; there’s no room in the modern Democrat party for such moderation.
Shriek: But Hillary was not. Nobody mistook her for a moderate; she was the fire-breathing liberal of the couple. And for the first two years of Clinton’s first term, many of her pet initiatives – including “Hillarycare”, which in those innocent days before Obamacare seemed like a grotesque power grab, nationalizing 1/7 of the national economy. The first two years of Clinton’s reign were not much further to the right than Obama’s.
Pow: The 1994 elections put a stop to that; the GOP took control of Congress for the first time since the ’30s, in a reaction to the Clintons’ “progressive” overreach. In response, Clinton swung to the right, triangulating to the GOP’s right on issue after issue – essentially neutering all of Hillary’s “progressive” ambitions – to save his presidency in 1996.
During his last six years in office, Clinton was more fiscally conservative than George W Bush.
Poof: As a result, between the 1994 landslide and his self-inflicted sex scandals, the best thing about the “Clinton Years” was that government was deadlocked between a Congress that was conservative, and a President that was frantically trying to act conservative.
Jing!: Of course, deadlocked government works best against a background of overwhelming prosperity. And the US was prosperous during the mid-late nineties – mostly because by 1994, the economy had shifted from Cold War priorities to full-scale civilian production, the so-called “Peace Dividend”. All those Cold War-period innovations in technology started filtering into the civilian market, driving frenetic booms in technology, equities, and consumer spending. We enjoyed the first genuine peacetime boom since the Roaring Twenties – nation’s economic blender switched to “puree”.
The end of the Cold War was, of course, predicated on the end of the USSR – and that was largely the work of Ronald Reagan.
Bill Clinton didn’t govern anything like Ronald Reagan. Hillary would be much less so.
The Good Old Days Are Gone For Good: It’s not the nineties. The GOP doesn’t control Congress – and any circumstances that lead to a Hillary! win would likely also lead to a blunting of any GOP effort to retake the Senate or extend control of the House – as Barone points out in the piece I link above, people are much more likely to vote straight tickets than they were 22 years ago.
So while the Democrats and media (ptr) will flog the idea that Hillary would be a return of Bill which would lead to a return of their gauzy, soft-focus version of “The Nineties” – it’s just not true. Hillary is not Bill; without a conservative Congress, it’ll be like having Maxine Waters running things. And Obama has seen to it there will be no surge of productivity when he leaves office.
We will get an expansion of government power; Obamacare will become un-repealable (even as its most onerous provisions finally kick in – and you really ain’t seen nothing yet). And government debt will zoom under paleo-”progressive” Hillary!, pushing the nation further and faster down the road to the inevitable financial cataclysm.
That is all.