Over the past decade or so, Clintonian nostalgia has enveloped America. Prosperity only grew broadly and not just for the few; stock prices only rose; our enemies only yielded; government made only correct decisions; domestic political rivals only worked together for the common good; the occupant of the White House only toked without inhaling as a younger man.
Reality, of course, was rather different. (Well, maybe Bill Clinton actually didn’t inhale.)
Although left-wing critiques of U.S. income inequality typically pretend this phenomenon was invented by Ronald Reagan, in fact the highest-earning households didn’t start to break away from the pack dramatically until the Clinton years. Much of the prosperity of the ’90s was built on a huge stock-market bubble in the tech sector, which was in the process of collapsing as the Clintons left the White House. Al-Qaida built its capacity to strike the West while America took a break from history. The administration was all too happy to go along with policy mistakes such as the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
And the bipartisanship we recall so fondly was built on a sharp rebuke from the voters after the first two years of the Clinton era were so deeply ideological (HillaryCare, anyone?) and on Bill Clinton’s acknowledgment of said rebuke (as opposed to, say, the way Barack Obama has reacted to two such rebukes to his own overreaches).
Lest you forget how highly partisan, cutthroat and combative Team Clinton could be, ABC News has been sifting through some of their emails from recent years, featuring two men considered prime candidates to run a 2016 campaign for Hillary: Robby Mook and Marlon Marshall.
“Copies of a cache of the emails obtained by ABC News, and revealed publicly for the first time, show Mook and Marshall demonstrating an aggressive tone in rallying their friends behind political causes, in exchanges that are often self-mocking and sometimes border on being profane.
“They include rallying cries to, in Mook’s words, ‘smite Republicans mafia-style,’ and, to quote Marshall, ‘punish those voters.’ Mook sometimes calls himself ‘Deacon’ in the emails, while Marshall, now a senior White House aide, refers to himself as ‘Reverend’ in many of the exchanges.”
Later on, we get to Marshall getting more directly to the point: “F U Republicans.” Just for a little extra intrigue, the release of the emails seems to be the work of infighting within Team Clinton.
Now, far be it from me to suggest these are the only political operatives in the world with a penchant for foul language and disdain for the competition. But I’m just guessing that one of Hillary’s selling points will be nostalgia for a time when Washington worked, when the Republican lion lay beside the Democratic lamb (figuratively, natch), when both sides worked together to pass common-sense legislation.
Left unmentioned will be such inconvenient facts as the role government shutdowns (prompted by a Clinton veto of congressional spending plans) and cuts in capital-gains tax rates (for investors in those corporations Hillary says don’t create jobs) played in moving the country to a balanced budget. So, too, will Team Clinton gloss over the two vetoes Bill issued before finally giving in and signing welfare reforms.
There will be a lot of ’90s happy talk over the next two years if Hillary does indeed run for president, some of which will be fair enough. Just don’t get caught thinking that’s all there is to remember, or that the nastier sides of the Clintons’ past has been left in the past.
Note: We are going to start the weekend’s moderation-free commenting a little earlier than usual. I hope everyone stays warm and has a great one.