The Clinton's Real Legacy

Former co-President Hillary Rodham Clinton, who usually denies she wants to be president again — solo next time (you can be sure she won’t share the reins with Bill) — announced that she was tired of President Bush interfering with her and Bill’s accomplishments.

Mrs. Clinton accused the Bush administration of nullifying the “success” of the Clintons’ presidency. “I cannot imagine four years of a second term of this administration, with no accountability and no election at the end,” she said. I’m not sure what she meant by “no election at the end,” unless she thinks President Dubya intends to establish a monarchy and become King George. Now that would drive them batty, wouldn’t it?

Mrs. Clinton added, “I shouldn’t take it personally. Because what (the Bush) administration was attempting to do was turn back the progress of the entire 20th century.”

Drama aside, obviously Mrs. Clinton does take it personally and resents President Bush’s undoing of her co-legacy. Mrs. Clinton is apparently unaware of an excellent book on the market right now that disputes her vision of the Clinton Legacy.

Perhaps someone should get her a copy of Rich Lowry’s Legacy, Paying the Price for the Clinton Years. With this informative book in hand, perhaps she can avoid making the same mistakes she and her husband made the first time around, in the event she is eventually elected to a third term.

Ironically, Bill Clinton benefited in a way from the myriad scandals that pervaded his tenure. Were it not for the diversion, the public might be better apprised of his many miserable policy failures. Rich Lowry has done a great service by refocusing our attention on the Clinton legacy beyond the scandals — not that he ignores the scandals. He covers those too, but he does much more.

“The most shocking thing about Bill Clinton’s presidency is the smallness of it, both personally and politically,” writes Lowry. This “do nothing presidency” left America weak and vulnerable, he says. And he proves it in a book that is rich with scholarship but highly fascinating and readable.

How dare we forget his appeasement toward North Korea, virtually inviting her to cheat on her nuclear agreements? Or how about his immediate retreat at the first sign of blood in Mogadishu and his persistent inaction in the face of recurring Al Qaeda terrorism against American targets, both of which virtually invited the September 11 attacks?

How about Clinton’s emasculation of the FBI and CIA? He not only loathed the military, but our vital intelligence services as well. And, as Lowry details, he “refocused the CIA on humanitarian interventions, economic security, the environment, and a host of issues associated with global crime” Terrorism was buried in a blizzard of other boutique, post-historical priorities.”

Lowry shows that Clinton treated terrorism as a law enforcement matter, rather than warfare. At Clinton’s direction, the FBI became the lead agency in the war on terror — “a task for which it was inherently unfit.” As a law enforcement agency, honor bound and structured to operate within the rules of evidence and the high standards of proof of American courtrooms, its hands were tied, and it was rendered ineffectual working against terrorism.

The Clintons brag about deficit reduction during their years, but they conveniently omit that they tried to bankrupt the federal government through Hillary’s grandiose and clandestine scheme to socialize health care. They also forget to mention that the Republican Congress restrained their other efforts to spend during the last six of their eight years in office.

As Hillary is trying to recapture the White House in 2008, we will also need to be armed with Lowry’s legacy corrections as to the Clinton economic record, which “benefited from two big lies. The first was the dishonest picture Clinton painted of the American economy in 1992. The other lie is that his 1993 economic package transformed the federal budget, and hence the American economy.” In fact “it didn’t cause interest rates to fall, it didn’t significantly reduce the deficit, and it didn’t cause the economy to grow.”

As you would expect from National Review‘s Rich Lowry, this is an intelligent book that not only chronicles the events, but trenchantly analyzes their historical significance.

Buy this book for yourself and a friend this Christmas. Read it, and put it in a safe place. Then bring it out for the 2008 campaign and spoil Hillary’s plan to campaign on a revised version of the Clinton legacy.