Every time you turn around, it seems Bill Clinton is hanging out on the campaign trail with Barack Obama. Clinton is still very popular for some unfathomable reason, and Obama hopes to take advantage of that popularity to get his voters to the polls. The problem is that Obama’s not only living in the past, but he’s living a lie. It’s true that many people still like Clinton, but let’s be honest: If Barack Obama had a positive message to offer, he wouldn’t be desperately relying upon the presence of his Secretary of State’s husband to get out the vote. The truth may simply be that Obama hopes to convince Democrats that he can “bring back the Clinton era,” but the facts don’t lend themselves to that meme. More, if one were to characterize the 1990s, when Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office(or the small office off of it,) it would be true to say that while America prospered, it was in spite of Clinton and not because of him. Obama may want to convince voters he’ll bring back those days, but the barest remembrance ought to make clear why that is not only impossible, but also undesirable. The only thing worse than living in the past, after all, is living in a past that never was.
In 1994, when the Republicans took over in both houses of Congress, it put the brakes on Bill Clinton in a way he hadn’t expected. All of his Utopian plans were put on hold, as was Hillary-Care, and the fact is that he was forced famously to admit in a State of the Union address: “The era of big government is over.” Naturally, this was anathema to the left, and they quickly began to figure out how they could use regulatory initiatives to unconstitutionally bypass the legislative process, an art-form now perfected under Barack Obama. Still, Slick decided to let it ride, and his severest fight with the Republicans was the government shutdown fiasco of 1995, when ultimately, Bob Dole in the Senate sold out Newt Gingrich and left the House hanging because he was campaigning for president.
Still, in the arena of foreign affairs, Bill Clinton did very little, and he mostly ignored the mounting terrorist threats arrayed against us. Al-Qaeda was on the march, and they destroyed two embassies and attacked the USS Cole while Clinton was playing hide the cigar with Monica Lewinsky and lying to grand juries. People may remember the prosperity of the 1990s, but how much of it was based on a phony bubble born of Clinton’s empowerment of Fannie Mae and Fredie Mac? The price of energy remained relatively low through much of his presidency precisely because his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, took the requisite actions to secure the oil-fields of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bill Clinton was merely a beneficiary.
In much the same way as Barack Obama continuously blames George Bush for the “economy [he] inherited,” Bush could just as easily have blamed Bill Clinton for the absolute degradation of our military and intelligence infrastructure and forces during he inherited at the outset of his presidency. Clinton was too busy blowing his saxophone to be commander-in-chief, and much like Obama, he only used the military as a backdrop to his endless photo-ops. Given the recent events in Benghazi, it’s easy to see why Obama thinks he can be like Bill Clinton. Being CinC is easy when you avoid the hard decisions. The problem is that the abrogation of responsibility gets Americans killed.
The simple fact is that if he really wanted to return to the era of Clinton, he need only go out and support Republicans for Senate. After all, if Harry Reid was diminished to minority leader, it would place Obama in precisely the same position as Clinton. You see, Obama has had things his way much more than Clinton ever did, and rather than dealing with the tearful John Boehner, Clinton had to contend with Newt Gingrich. That may have been the real difference. What reasonable people may conclude from all of this is not that Obama is like Clinton, but that he has been much more like Jimmy Carter. There’s a reason he doesn’t drag that former president down the campaign trail with him.
As Obama tries to scare up images of the 1990s, and the presidency of Bill Clinton, he runs the risk of reminding people how unsuccessful he’s really been, and how man promises he’s broken. More, the guy upon whom he’s hanging his hopes isn’t a man noted for his honesty, irrespective of how popular he may be. That nearly four years into his presidency, he hasn’t established his own credentials and credibility even within his own base of support ought to be a clue as to how desperate his side has become. That’s why he’s hauled out the old snake-oil salesman from retirement: He can’t stand alone, just as he can’t stand on his own record, and as the miles on the campaign trail begin to run out, he’s in danger of the American people, even faithful Democrats, beginning to figure this out.
One wonders if he really wants Americans to remember the real Bill Clinton, or whether it’s just the image of a presidency coinciding with relative prosperity he wants you to remember. If I were to list the failures of Bill Clinton, the dishonesty, and the eight years of ceaseless lying and posturing, it might place a different spin on this effort. If his promise is to return you to the days of Bill Clinton, he’s broken that promise, and he’s not likely to keep it, even if he were to spend twenty years in office. Thankfully, that won’t happen, but we shouldn’t permit him to pretend he can take us back in time to those days. He’s not Bill Clinton, but even if he had been, Americans are right to question if that would that constitute a ringing endorsement. Maybe the “good old days” of Bill Clinton really weren’t so good.