Unmasking the 'Clinton magic'

Former president's speech reminded voters what Obama lacks

  • Follow Editorials

If Democrats were looking to create a climate of nostalgia at their national convention Wednesday night, it worked.

We never thought we’d miss Bill Clinton. But we almost do.

Well, almost.

At the risk of putting a damper on that nostalgia, though, the truth is that Bill Clinton was mostly in the right place at the right time.

Dispassionate historians may look back at the Clinton years with clearer eyes than most. If so, they’ll see a very pragmatic president with uniquely agile principles who managed to see which way the parade was headed in the 1990s – and jumped out in front of it.

Clinton’s penchant for Democratic rote – high taxes, big spending, sweeping regulation – was tempered by the times. Given a chance, America shot down Hillary Clinton’s attempted takeover of health care. And when two years of Clinton convinced voters to carry Republicans to control of Congress, Clinton deftly adjusted – suddenly becoming more of a budget hawk, and championing welfare reform.

America looks very, very different, even in the 1990s, if Bill Clinton really gets his way. Instead, he got what he could, and looked great doing it.

Moreover, consider the larger picture. We were largely at peace. And baby boomers, the largest demographic cohort in American history, were at their peak earning years. So our friends in Washington could pretty much put their feet up and look out their windows and watch the money trucks leave their loads.

Bill Clinton didn’t give us the ’90s. We did. The same hard-working, productive Americans who buried the Soviet Union in a pile of its own fraud also managed to lift up America. And Bill Clinton was there.

Yes, he had to be nimble enough to take advantage of it and work with a Republican Congress. If that’s the “Clinton magic,” so be it.

But Mr. Obama will clearly have none of it.

Even if you give former President Clinton more credit than we do – even if you give him all the credit for the roaring ’90s – why should anyone think the magic can somehow be taken off the shelf and rubbed off on the Obama administration? The times are different, and so are the men. Mr. Obama has simply shown none of the pragmatism or flexibility of Mr. Clinton.

President Obama, for instance, suffered a loss of power in the midterm elections, just as Mr. Clinton did. In fact, Obama called the 2010 Republican congressional victory a “shellacking.” And yet, he seemed neither humbled (for long) nor tempered. And his record of bipartisanship pales in comparison to Clinton’s.

Clinton perfected the pivot. Obama’s never tried it.

You can blame the Republicans in the House all you like for Obama’s frustrations. But Clinton had to work with Republicans who controlled both houses of Congress. He managed to get a ton more accomplished in the process.

“Clinton bucked most House Democrats to liberalize trade,” adds the National Review. “He signed Republican bills to reform welfare, restrain spending, and cut taxes on investment. Obama has done none of these things. He has weakened welfare reform by telling states that the administration will waive work requirements. He has greatly increased spending. He has raised taxes on investment and wants to raise them more. Obama is no Bill Clinton: good news for the first lady, not so much for the rest of us.”

It never hurts a guy to share in the aura of a political icon, one supposes. But it might help Mr. Obama even more if he shared some of Mr. Clinton’s dexterity.

Comments (37) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 09/06/12 - 10:05 pm
4
6
Call me psychic.
Unpublished

Tomorrow's editorial? ... a scathing negative review of President Obama's speech.

Riverman1
90849
Points
Riverman1 09/07/12 - 03:35 am
6
3
Bob Woodward's new book

Bob Woodward's new book exposes the ruderless Obama for what he is. Former Southern Governor Bill Clinton was much more pragmatic working with the Republican Congress that resulted in lower deficits. If Bill could have kept his pants on he would be judged well by history.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 09/07/12 - 04:22 am
5
7
"Bill Clinton didn’t give us

"Bill Clinton didn’t give us the ’90s. We did." So we also gave ourselves the current time period. You can't have one without the other.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 09/07/12 - 04:25 am
4
7
"Tomorrow's editorial? ... a

"Tomorrow's editorial? ... a scathing negative review of President Obama's speech." And 2-4 letters griping about changing the name of the college.

carcraft
27951
Points
carcraft 09/07/12 - 04:41 am
5
4
TEchfan- Yes we gave

TEchfan- Yes we gave ourselves the current time period, we elected Obama!

avidreader
3481
Points
avidreader 09/07/12 - 05:01 am
7
3
The Parade!

Clinton "managed to see which way the parade was headed in the 1990s – and jumped out in front of it." Isn't this a good idea for any President? Maybe I'm missing something. If something is working, go with the flow. Clinton himself admitted that he was a much better leader during his second term. Why does Obama refuse to bend? He is simply an autocrat with no sense of logical direction. Compromise drives success, and Clinton finally figured it out.

freeradical
1149
Points
freeradical 09/07/12 - 05:02 am
4
3
This editorial can be used to

This editorial can be used to directly demonstrate the folly of

yesterdays editorial in calling the Barak an " utterly delightful "

personality.

Everything I have seen & heard of Obama indicates he is a cold ego-

maniac surrounded by yes men lapdogs afraid of him .

This is stark contrast to Bill Clinton.

As much as I diagree with the politics of Clinton I believe everything

that I have heard about his personality , being able to come into a

room full of strangers hostile to him and immediatly put them at ease

and make them feel like he is a great guy to just hang out with .

And this is a large reason why Bill won two terms.

Every time you saw Bill playing golf he was with a different group of

friends , movers and shakers , etc,etc,etc,,,.

As many rounds of golf as Obama has played it is a fact that he brings

the amazingly small 3 or 4 persons with him on all 145 rounds .

Lapdogs & lackies, not friends . All afraid of making a better shot than

him and offending his ego.

avidreader
3481
Points
avidreader 09/07/12 - 05:05 am
7
3
To Techfan

. . . and yes, I agree. The scathing reviews and the GRU stuff are getting quite stale. How about that sink hole on Walton Way?

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 09/07/12 - 05:24 am
3
5
car: I have a feeling you

car: I have a feeling you didn't vote for Clinton or Obama.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 09/07/12 - 06:57 am
4
6
Can someone explain the

Can someone explain the difference to me, on how Clinton doesn't deserve any credit for the success achieved, because the republican congress held his feet to the fire, and a surplus was achieved. However the far right tends to skip over the fact Bush had a republican congress, and things fell apart then?

Gary Ross
3346
Points
Gary Ross 09/07/12 - 07:02 am
5
2
During Clinton, the baby

During Clinton, the baby boomers were indeed at the peak of their earning years and the fat cats in Washington watched as the money trucks rolled in. Excuse me, but it's EVERY politicians job to "see which way the parade is headed" and do what's right for our country. That's what they get elected and paid to do. Then why are we in such a mess? Washington is full of people like Obama, and we need to change that if we are to survive.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/07/12 - 07:02 am
0
1
lefties,
Unpublished

the more you run your mouths, the less sense you make!

seenitB4
93940
Points
seenitB4 09/07/12 - 07:26 am
1
2
Clinton

Clinton was an expert at dodging-swaying-moving ...at the right time.....something O needs to learn....
But about the pants down thingy......look at a few others please....enough have had their pantys down.......pls don't forget the Kennedy Bros...

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 09/07/12 - 07:36 am
4
5
'Biden also gets knocked for

'Biden also gets knocked for saying Romney "believes it's OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000." Actually, FactCheck writes, Romney "promises to lower middle-class taxes."'

What's funny is that analysts have said that the plan Romney has put out will raise taxes on the middle class, but since Romney said he promises not too, and politicians tell the truth and fulfill promises, then Romney's word is good. Flip flopping Romney. Well- maybe Romney will just raise fees, not taxes. Maybe viewed from that prism he is right.

justthefacts
24082
Points
justthefacts 09/07/12 - 08:07 am
7
2
Tparty

After spending last week nitpicking the Republican speeches for accuracy, I notice you have been strangly quiet this week. Nothing?

dichotomy
36352
Points
dichotomy 09/07/12 - 08:46 am
6
2
So Obama basically said "The

So Obama basically said "The things I have done for the last 4 years have not worked, have doubled our debt, have not reduced unemployment, and have not created anywhere near enough jobs, but if you let me do the same things for 4 more years we might get a different result". I don't think so Mr. Obama.

Big laugh. Unemployment supposedly dropped to 8.1% last week. Not because we increased jobs. No, that number was worse. Not because more people went to work. But because this disaster of an Obama economy drove another 350,000 people to give up and get out of the workforce so that they were not counted as "unemployed. So, if you don't count people who used to work, but no longer work as unemployed you can manipulate the "unemployment" number to anything you want it to be. Folks, the actual unemployment number this morning is 14.7%. That is the Obama economy. Slowest "recovery" from a recession EVER because Obama's policies are terrible for business, of all sizes, and terrible for the cost of energy.

Bizkit
34439
Points
Bizkit 09/07/12 - 08:49 am
4
2
Funny how many of the Rep

Funny how many of the Rep governors are using the "failed policies" of the Rep to get their states out of the hole and on fiscal track. The lies of the Dems are so incredulous. Like the mantra the Bush tax cuts only affect the rich-what a bunch of malarky as we now finally see. The Dems fascination with hating the wealthy is just too paradoxical, and a clear mental pathology.

burninater
9799
Points
burninater 09/07/12 - 08:50 am
2
4
Two takeaways from this

Two takeaways from this editorial, and the subsequent comments:

Fact checking sites are biased liberal mouthpieces when pointing out Republican fibs, but when they point out Democrat fibs ... they're fact checking sites.

Succesful office holders are lucky beneficiaries of circumstance if they are Democrats, but when they are Republicans ... success is a result of party and policy.

Do people have no concept of how tiresome this type of behavior becomes? The more a party or espousers of specific ideology allows themselves to be associated with childish behavior like this, the harder it is to take their candidates with any level of seriousness.

Freeatlast
87
Points
Freeatlast 09/07/12 - 09:26 am
1
4
There's no "magic" Obama will

There's no "magic" Obama will need to win his second term, Clinton developed a justification of the president's economic record since 2009. No president - nor Clinton could have restored in just four years the national ruin that Obama encountered when he took office. In Tampa, Mitt Romney and Tea Party Republicans argument against the President's re - election was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn't finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put a Republican President back to work. Bill couldn't help Hillary beat Obama in 2008, so why far - right mainstream news media deem Obama need Bill help to get re - elected, they just good buddies. At the Democrat National Convention, Bill made a speech, " the Obama administration deserves another term because he save the country from depression and laid the foundation for renewed - and shared- prosperity." Together these themes reflect not only Bill's understanding of the issues and his ability to elaborate them, but his sense of what might persuade voters - especially alienated white working - class voters - that Obama deserves another term. Bill's apperance was not a climactiz moment but an opening salvo, Bill will be on the campagin trail with Obama, aiming to make Romney and Ryan regret that they have ever mentioned his name.

allhans
24554
Points
allhans 09/07/12 - 09:42 am
2
2
Clinton had the same

Clinton had the same percentage of viewers as Honey BOO_BOO, a 2.4 share,
Now..I dont' say that is meaningful but good gracious.

allhans
24554
Points
allhans 09/07/12 - 09:46 am
2
1
I watched a little of Obama

I watched a little of Obama this morning (a video) and those people were a bloodthirsty bunch. They cheered aborting babies and the killing of bin Laden with the same frenetic intensity.

Gregory J. Topliff
71
Points
Gregory J. Topliff 09/07/12 - 10:00 am
1
1
Clinton's speech

As an independent voter who voted for Clinton the second time around. I caught the former President's dog and pony show at the DNC as he spewed out his rhetoric against the Republicans. Slick Willie was pointing his finger with impunity and playing to the crowd like days of old when he was president. His performance was epic; he tore down the Republicans bit-by-bit throwing out statistics as if they were true. He stuck his finger out at the camera reminiscent of the time when he told the country that he didn’t have sex with Monica Lewinsky. The bobbing heads in the audience cheered as he rolled out his repertoire of unfactual statements telling them these are the facts. The facts he read off the teleprompter differ from the facts that the people of this country see everyday. The economy isn't doing well at all. Bailing out GM means that the taxpayer’s are buying cars they already own. He talked about healthcare as if the people had any say so in choosing it. People can sit there and commend him and Obama all they want. What Clinton did was distort the facts and mesmerize the crowds into throwing out common sense and what they see with their own eyes and I thought that Obama was a snake oil salesman. Clinton must have been the teacher. Lastly, if any of what has been said by the democrats at the DNC was even remotely true, I'd vote for Obama but they are not.

Darby
28430
Points
Darby 09/07/12 - 10:10 am
3
1
He promised Utopia, gave us Dystopia

"No president - nor Clinton could have restored in just four years the national ruin that Obama encountered when he took office."

And yet Obama himself said, "If I don't get this thing turned around in 3 years, it's gonna be a one term proposition." ..... Now all of a sudden, after almost 4 years, he suddenly wakes up, sees the light and realizes that things were "MUCH WORSE" than he imagined....
That's the trouble with this guy, he has no concept of reality. He thought that all he had to do was sit down behind that desk in the Oval Office and his great God-like persona would do the rest.....
He won election with no executive experience, no accomplishments, no knowledge of economics and no leadership ability. The American people can't undo the last four years, but they can certainly reverse the error they made four years ago.....
As for Bill Clinton, he paid his dues with his speech Wednesday night. You aren't going to see that much of him propping up Obama during the next sixty days. He will do his best to distance himself from the man he sees as a failure, while attempting to position Hillary for a run in 2016.

justthefacts
24082
Points
justthefacts 09/07/12 - 10:12 am
5
1
Jennifer Granholm

If you need a laugh, go search for the video of this wacko's DNC speech. Makes Al Gore's tirade seem tame.

Bizkit
34439
Points
Bizkit 09/07/12 - 10:17 am
4
1
So the median average income

So the median average income has dropped, more Americans out of work since the depression, price of gas has doubled, health care cost still skyrocketing and physician disatisfaction is the highest in history, all diplomatic policies have failed despite his nobel peace prize for what he was going to do, and Obama has done a good job. Gee I'd hate to see a bad job.

dade30906
258
Points
dade30906 09/07/12 - 11:14 am
1
4
If Democrats were looking to

If Democrats were looking to create a climate of nostalgia at their national convention Thursday night, it worked. What a night, what a speech, what a president. I know that after hearing President Obama you're fired up as I am to go out and win this thing. And compare this week to the Republican convention last week. Less awesome. Far more scary. But just as motivating. Because if the party that put on that show in Tampa becomes the party that runs our government, well - yikes.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 09/07/12 - 11:39 am
1
4
"After spending last week

"After spending last week nitpicking the Republican speeches for accuracy, I notice [TParty] have been [strangely] quiet this week. Nothing?"

Clinton's speech- I can't find any faults.

I'm still going over Obama's speech, I've been busy today.

You have to admit though- Ryan's speech was just full of it. Nothing can compare to it.

I assume Biden blew it, didn't listen to his speech.

itsanotherday1
47061
Points
itsanotherday1 09/07/12 - 01:28 pm
3
2
Clinton

Clinton is looking out for nobody but Clinton; he couldn't give a rat's patoot about the potential for long term woes from Obama policies. His interest is Republican's not gaining the Whitehouse so Hillary has a better shot in '16.

Count on it.

InquiringLynn-SkepticGriggsy
47
Points
InquiringLynn-SkepticGriggsy 09/07/12 - 02:50 pm
2
4
The Clintons and Obama
Unpublished

Pres. Clinton set policy and now Pres. O'bama is following it: I find no essential difference betwixt them.
The extremists are of course right that Clinton was the man but so wrong about Obama.
The Democratic Party is the center now that the other has become the Goofy Old Party. Obama-cares is centrist whilst Voucher-careless is extreme, giving insurance more " taxing" power! Were competition the answer, then California would have lower insurance "taxes," but no, as high as anywhere else!
People,don't fall for the Republi-con bait and switch!
Afert his second term, Obama will have other fields to plough whilst Hillary Clinton would probably be the clear choice for president should she run. I now call for her or V.P. Biden to get ready for 2016!
We Democrats favor private enterprise, not private priviledge/ Romney- doesn't careism-Randism.
We favor the private, public and independent sectors! We are not extremists favoring one or the other over the others.
Unless TR and Ike Republicans can retake their party, another center party must emerge!
The Clintons and Obama-Biden are centrists, favoring free enterprise and- the public welfare, article 8 of the Constitution.
As ever, reactionaries...!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Missouri wins SEC East, knocks Georgia out of running

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Marcus Murphy scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard run with 4:38 remaining and Markus Golden recovered a fumble to seal No. 17 Missouri's 21-14 victory Friday against ...
Search Augusta jobs