Excerpts from Rich Lowry's New Book Legacy

Clinton’s Most Important Legacy

  • On September 11, Clinton’s most important legacy arrived in horrifying form, and settled in a pile of rubble seven stories high in downtown Manhattan. History hadn’t ended, after all. We had just ignored it.
  • While the FBI Was Still Trying to Unravel the Iranian Terror Plot, Clinton Apologizes to Iran

  • “I think it is important to recognize, however, that Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations. And I think sometime it’s quite important to tell people, look you have the right to be angry???”
  • A Jumble of Contradictions

  • Clinton was a jumble of contradictions. He was dismissive of the lessons of history, yet entirely consumed by how history would judge him; personally audacious and reckless, he was politically timid and weak; his rhetoric was bold and visionary, but his policies miniature and often silly; he was self-pitying and victimized, but capable of acts of Nixonian callousness and spite.
  • “It Depends What the Meaning of ‘Is’ Is”

  • [Clinton] trailed dishonesty like a plume of bad cologne, lying to protect himself, to reposition himself, and to make himself feel better. He created a private language of evasion memorialized in that haiku of Clintonism-“it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
  • Fundamentally Miscast

  • Clinton could have been a truly great campaign operative, helping some other, better man be president. But he was fundamentally miscast in an office that depends on his person, that couldn’t be filled just with political strategy and campaign skills, and that required qualities his moral cowardice denied him.
  • Leaving Someone Else With The Consequences

  • There was something symbolically perfect about Clinton touting economic growth that was going bust, and leaving someone else with the consequences. Clinton’s presidency had achieved a sort of symmetry. He took office overselling a slowdown, and left office overselling a boom.
  • Soft on Terror

  • In a meeting that was supposed to be devoted to pressuring the Saudis on Khobar, Clinton got weepy when Crown Prince Abdullah expressed support for him in the Lewinsky affair and didn’t push the Saudi hard. Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, told [Louie] Freeh that the White House wanted to avoid confrontation with Iran at all costs, even if it meant ignoring the Khobar Towers attack.
  • Clinton Lost the War on Terror

  • In the end, it was Clinton’s cowardice that kept him from vigorously fighting the terror war-his fear of risk, his fear of killing people in military attacks, his fear of offending other countries. His ego made him yearn after a great foreign policy crisis to give him a legacy; his moral shallowness kept him from dealing with one when it arrived.
  • What Clinton Would Have Asked JFK

  • Asked what question he would have asked JFK if given the chance, [Clinton] said, “I’d want to ask him, you know, how did you do it? How did you get away with it?”
  • A Perfect Ending to the Clinton Years

  • When the economy dipped and the terrorists struck, Clinton was-in a perfectly fitting end to the Clinton years-somewhere else, giving well-compensated speeches, attending glitzy parties, or explaining how he could have handled the whole ensuing mess better than his successor.
  • The Inauguration of George W. Bush

  • With his handpicked successor beaten, with the economy slowing down, with corporate scandals building and about to explode, with North Korea working on a new nuclear program, and with the September 11 terrorists already in the country, Clinton found on the podium that day a perfect gesture to cap his eight years in office. He fell asleep.