The theme in the Democratic convention seems to be that under Clinton, America was better off and that Kerry is a Clinton heir. And if you stick to only the years 1995-2000, the Clinton claim will stand up . . . on the surface. Ultimately, upon any examination of the Clinton record, the state of the country during the Clinton presidency was akin to an embalmed corpse -- it looked decent on the surface, but the inside was empty, useless and noxious.
From 1993-95, Clinton made one misstep after another from HillaryCare to gays in the military to Middle East peace to avoiding doing anything about welfare or frivolous securities lawsuits. He barely got his budget passed, and had it stripped of its worst taxes by Congress. Never mind the Waco attack by the ATF.
In 1995, Clinton got just what he needed -- a Republican Congress to demonize. And he did that very well, especially during budget showdowns. More importantly, however, the Republicans carried the day FOR Clinton, and gave him political cover, on welfare reform and NAFTA -- the two best legacies of Clinton's presidency. And the Republicans cut some taxes (capital gains) that helped the economy.
In addition, the Republican hatred of Clinton, and knee-jerk opposition to Clinton, gave Clinton cover for doing nothing in Bosnia or Rwanda. Seldom has the US reputation fallen farther than when Jacques Chirac said the position of leader of the free world is vacant -- a comment that ultimately prompted Clinton to act in Kosovo.
And I'm not even going to cover the Clintonite sell-outs of US interests by signing the Kyoto Treaty and the International Criminal Court Treaty.
The notion that the Clinton tax increases led to balancing the budget and a better economy is pure fiction. In late 1991, the economy had turned upward and was rebounding from the 1989-91 recession. The military cuts Clinton imposed were a primary engine of budget-balancing. The press never questioned Clinton's claim in 1992 that George H.W. Bush had presided over the worst economy since the Depression -- a lie easily disproven by any reference to the Carter Administration. Note that under Bush, the yearly economic growth rates for the US have been much higher than the 2.2-2.6% Clinton had -- more than 3.5% in 2002 and 2003.
Moreover, Clinton's legacy in foreign affairs is absolutely awful. He failed to act in Rwanda when the UN representative said all he needed was 5000 troops to prevent the Hutu massacre of Tutsis that claimed more than 800,000 Tutsi lives. Then he toured Africa and apologized to the Rwandans. Tell that to the 1,000,000-plus lives that never existed thanks to the Hutus killing Tutsi women. His most frequent guest in the White House is a terrorist, Yassir Arafat, who has the blood of thousands of Israelis, thousands more Palestinians and even an American ambassador to Sudan on his hands. He also let Carter roam free in North Korea and pledge US materials and aid to the Kim regime in exchange for the Agreed Framework that allowed the Communists to build nuclear weapons whilst the US slept.
Coddling terrorists and failure to act against terrorism is a constant theme of the Clinton Administration. In 1993, the US discovered a plot by Saddam to have George H.W. Bush assassinated on his visit to Kuwait. A proper response to a plot to kill a former US president where the plot is traceable to a country and a leader is to eradicate that leader. Clinton ordered some missiles fired at an Iraqi intelligence outpost.
In 1993, the first World Trade Center bombing occurred. Despite the unquestioned reality that this was a terrorist attack, Clinton treated this as an FBI law-enforcement matter. Ditto the Khobar Towers attack in 1996, when Clinton allowed the FBI to be stonewalled by the Saudis. Ditto the Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam embassy bombings of 1998 and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.
Each of the Clinton reactions to these attacks on Americans abroad sent two messages: (1) we will not actively prevent future attacks, just seek the actors after the events; (2) we will not hold governments and groups responsible for these actions accountable. And in investigating the attacks and potential future attacks, the FBI and CIA could not coordinate information thanks to Jamie Gorelick's information Wall preventing counterespionage information from being used in criminal investigations, and vice versa. A wall she proudly stated went beyond what the law required.
Clinton also had at least 2 chances to capture bin Laden, courtesy Mansoor Ijaz's contacts with the Sudanese government; which Clinton declined. He also had 3 or more chances to kill bin Laden at the latter's terrorist base in Afghanistan, but Sandy Berger denied the military and CIA the authority to act.
Worst of all was Clinton's reaction to the Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu. Despite the tremendous heroism and bravery shown by the US forces, who were in a firefight outnumbered by 100-1 or more, did not get sufficient backup support, and fought through while killing 1000 Aideed supporters for the one US serviceman killed, the Mogadishu fiasco gave comfort to the enemies of the US as Clinton withdrew the Marines and put his tail between his legs.
Thus, Clinton left the US weak in the face of terrorism. He portrayed a lack of will, a complete lack of seriousness, and an inability to take preventive action. The repercussions from Clinton's failures were never, or were barely, felt during his term. Thus, we had an eight-year long holiday from history that came crashing to an end early on the morning of September 11, 2001. That attack, and more importantly the mindset amongst the terrorists that such an attack could succeed and would not have repercussions, is the Clinton Legacy. The studious avoidance of finger-pointing, also known as assigning blame where it is due, by the press and the Republicans has served no one well.
Ultimately, President Bush was right and has done exactly what he said he would do four years ago. His constant refrain in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was "They've had their chance, they have not led, we will." For four years, on the matters most important in this country -- protecting it and defending it -- Bush has kept that promise. Clinton's Legacy is failure. If you want four to eight years of more failure, fecklessness and terrorist-coddling, vote Kerry. I don't, and I won't.
Submitted to Beltway Traffic Jam.