The Clinton Legacy

Ann Althouse blogs that Hillary Clinton is trying to have her cake and eat it too, by claiming the Clinton legacy as qualifying experience while simultaneously trying to distance herself from it enough to avoid responsibility for it. Althouse writes:

Spare me the “formal role”/”tangentially involved” niceties, and hold her to account. Make her defend Bill Clinton’s decisions or tell us exactly what she thinks he did wrong. And don’t let her dodge around by playing on our feelings about the marital relationship.

I agree. One of several reasons I’ve decided to support John Edwards instead of Hillary Clinton is because I believe that Clinton is somewhat responsible for the decisions of the Clinton presidency, including the bad ones, and I haven’t seen her sufficiently respond to her husband’s poor choices. I’m looking for some of those choices to be corrected by the next president and I’m afraid that Hillary Clinton won’t correct them.

Bill Clinton was one of the better presidents of the latter half of the twentieth century, and far better than the president in office now. Still, Clinton made several very bad decisions during the course of his presidency.

  • It was Clinton who presided over the institution and implementation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy, which required gay and lesbian service members to remain silent about their sexual orientation or be discharged.
  • Clinton supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and globalization, which has cost American jobs, hurt American workers, and given the nod to the abuse of workers in developing nations.
  • Clinton failed to secure health care reform, even with the Democratic party holding majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
  • These and other Clinton debacles, as well as Democratic corruption in Congress, led to the overwhelming victory of congressional Republicans in 1994.
  • It was the Clinton Justice Department that returned Elian Gonzalez to Cuba to live under Fidel Castro’s communist dictatorship, clearly against the wishes of Gonzalez’ deceased mother who gave up her life to free her son from communist tyranny.
  • Clinton paved the way for the Iraq War by signing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and authorizing a series of bombing campaigns against Iraq, beginning with Operation Desert Fox in the same year.
  • Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, continuing Reagan’s strides toward media consolidation and bringing us to where we are today, with media in the hands of a few powerful corporations.
  • Clinton signed the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which gave unconstitutional power to the president to selectively veto items contained in spending bills, effectively usurping congressional spending power. This act was later overturned by the Supreme Court.
  • Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the application of the constitution’s full faith and credit clause to same-sex marriages or civil unions, and which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions even if the states did.
  • Clinton began the practice of extraordinary rendition, in which detainees are transported to other countries for interrogation. This began the “torture by proxy” of detainees and led to today’s political climate, in which we are actually debating whether or not to torture detainees.
  • It was Clinton who popularized the terms “state sponsor of terrorism” and “rogue state” – in reference to Iran, which the Bush administration is now threatening with aggression for the same reasons.

Will Hillary Clinton continue all of her husband’s bad policies? Maybe, maybe not. It’s difficult to trust her when one considers that she has made her own bad decisions, including voting to authorize the Iraq War and still refusing to admit that her vote was a mistake. Her continued affiliation with the right-leaning Democratic Leadership Council, which advised Bill Clinton to enact many of the bad policies mentioned above, is also a cause for concern.

Americans have a right to know whether Hillary Clinton will be her own president or simply be a continuation of the first Clinton administration, and we have a right to know exactly what course Hillary Clinton’s presidency would take on these issues. If she wants to claim her husband’s administration as her experience card, then she needs to address concerns about her husband’s policies and what, if anything, she would do differently.


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