Recycling mistakes of the past

The unbounded joy from the Democratic side of the political universe these days is tempered by economic realities of a faltering nation.

America is in trouble — deep trouble — and we are not going to get out of it by simply accepting everything that Barack Obama does as gospel and blaming everything that’s happened on George W. Bush.

Yes, Bush is a bad President, perhaps one of the worst in history, but the many problems that face this nation have been decades in the making and much of the relief that we see as Bush’s administration comes to an end follows what many — myself included — felt at what we hoped was the end of a national nightmare when the Clintons packed up to leave the White House.

The greatest damage that Bush may have done to this nation is the resurrection of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  The man who turned the White House into his personal pleasure palace, who used the power of the federal government to destroy his enemies and who decried the "politics of personal destruction" while honing it into an art form is redeemed in the eyes of those weary of the extremes of the Bush Administration.

Like so many, I’m happy to see Bush go. But unlike those with short memories, I haven’t forgotten the shame Bill Clinton brought upon the Presidency by his behavior or his own lack of honesty with the American people. Let’s not forget that Clinton lost his law license for lying under oath.

We hear a lot of talk about how Bill Clinton left us a nation free of debt. That’s not quite what happened. The deficit was reduced during his Presidency but it came under pressure from a Republican Congress — the one put into power by voters after Clinton stormed into office in 1992 with grandiose big-spending ideas like National Health Care.

Clinton, with the approval of a Democratic Congress, raised taxes in 1993. He also presented budgets with big increases in federal spending. The deficit soared to $200 billion in two years.

Voters rejected his policies overwhelmingly in the 1994 mid-term elections and sent the Democratic leadership of Congress packing.

With a Republican-controlled Congress serving as watchdog, Clinton moderated his policies and went from liberal to centrist. But many of the spending cuts that occurred in his Presidency came at the insistence of a Republican Congress that controlled the federal budget during the final six years of his Presidency.

Technically, the federal budget was balanced by 1998 — four years after Republicans assumed control of Congress. During those four years, the GOP congress cut $600 billion from the budgets Clinton submitted.  But even that so-called "balanced budget" is subject to debate since Uncle Sam keeps two sets of books.

Two years later, George W. Bush came into office and inherited a Republican Congress that forgot all about fiscal restraint. They helped Bush build the largest federal bureaucracy in history in a pork-barrel spending spree that remained unabated until voters tossed the GOP out of power in Congress in 2006.

So the Republicans share a good deal of the blame for putting the country back into debt afteR helping balance the books 10 years ago. But many Democrats also voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq and put this country into a seemingly-endless, budget-draining, war. Many Democrats voted to establish the huge Department of Homeland Security that has become the federal government’s black hole for spending. Many Democrats voted to take away the rights of Americans with the USA Patriot Act. Many Democrats enjoyed the pork barrel largess that bloated the federal budget and the deficit.

Barack Obama and his team of recycled team of Washington insiders will not balance the budget. They will increase the federal deficit with massive spending programs that they hope will jump start a faltering economy.

It may work. It may not. This is not the post-depression era of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is not the Civil War era of Abraham Lincoln. This is modern day America where Wall Street hiccups and the world convulses. Change means taking bold, new innovative steps to fight the problem. Change does not come by repackaging those who helped contribute to the past excesses that helped create today’s problems.

George W. Bush is a bad President. So was Bill Clinton. And George H.W. Bush. And Ronald Reagan. And Jimmy Carter. And so on.

Each, along with those who served in in their respective administrations, and those in Congress during their terms, are co-conspirators in building an American house of cards that is toppling around us.

And now, many of those same people are back in positions of power in a new government that is supposed to change things and save us from the past mistakes they helped create.


  1. GovtFlu

    Recycle the same 2 failed parties, who always recycle their failure friends, and you’ll get recycled failure.

    Remember, these people don’t look back to the past just to ‘bicker’..noooo way, above all that silly stuff they’re all forward thinkers.

    Besides that, learning from the past mistakes would mean they first have to admit to making them. That would be bad politics, and worse… bad for the party.

  2. ckaye99

    Oh my god, are we still writhing in shame about a blow job? It was none of anyone’s business, it happened between two consenting adults, and was not ANY kind of grounds for impeachment. I thought all the grownups were on the same page about this now.

    That said, I disliked Clinton’s neoliberalism, especially the drastically deregulatory legislation he passed for the banks and the SEC. There was also his horsetrading that allowed SUVs on the road. I’m not sure how far he went with the mortgage debacle – I know he had a program to make more people homeowners but I don’t know if he in any way stymied or weakened the regulatory body (s).

    I am afraid that is where Obama is going to go, afraid that the goal is to create another Clinton era or pre-2005 Bush era. I would like some assurances about this but doubt that I will get them and am scared as hell about his cabinet.

  3. rbw152

    Left, Right, Clinton, Bush – who cares? I don’t.

    Look, the point Doug is making (and it’s bloody obvious if you take your party hat off) is that NO SIDE has been any good. And they haven’t. Some presidents have been better than others but none of them get above zero.

    ‘Democratic’ systems all over the world need a drastic overhaul. We need to run things in an entirely different way. For example, coalitions are great. The politicians can spend their whole time arguing and getting nothing done while the rest of us get on with our lives. Sounds good to me!

    And remember: ‘don’t vote, it only encourages them.’

  4. texasmike

    Hurrah for the Clinton bash. I’m a longtime reader but I never commented before but I had to in this case because the never ending use of Bill Clinton’s “perjury” is just one of the main platforms of Republican’s AND Independent’s false equivalency method of criticizing anything with regards to the democratic party. The whole eight years the moron pretend cowboy who is not even from Texas has had a free ride. Every stupid utterance from this clown was defended with the But, But, But Clinton mantra. Even here you get one guy equating Clinton to Hitler or Mussolini. Sure, only in an oblique fashion…but the false equivalency is used again and again. I wonder how many decades this excuse for valid discourse is going to be trotted out?

    Where do you expect Obama to get experienced cabinet people from? Give me a break. I’m not a do or die Clinton supporter, but you stack his eight against the last eight and only the most diehard Clinton hater would have Bush ahead on ANY count whatsoever.

  5. JudyB

    AMEN Malcolm!!!! How many times have I asked the question “Why was Clinton even questioned about having sex with anyone?” least a hundred thats how many! I completely understand that it is a crime to purjure oneself and he should not have done so…but I have never understood why he was allowed to be asked or required to answer anything about anything he didn’t take an oath as president to abide by…and as for the Ken Starr/ Republican vendetta that shamed every sane person that was not card carrying religious righter, not to mention the fact that it cost 6.0 MILLIONS $$$$ FOR THAT part of the INVESTIGATION ALONE. What did we recieve from that long,embarassing and expensive mess???….we got 1 impeached POTUS that was not convicted, 1 stained blue dress….plus 9 yrs of never hearing the end of the whole thing!!! For the past 8 yrs., we have had to put up with a POTUS & his vice who would never allow themselves to be under oath and were as guilty as sin of continuious lying for far more serious transgressions. For me, its never been about the blow jobs that the big wigs in D.C get….its the damnable snow jobs that they give that do the most damage, and should matter most! ENUFF

  6. Malibu

    Why was Clinton even questioned about having sex with anyone? I don’t recall anyone asking Ike, Kennedy or LBJ if they dabbled with any girls. The religious right got all stirred up over anyone having sex (any kind) in the Oval Office and it not only disgraced the President but America. Ken Starr made a mockery of the investigation and ignored some stuff and focused only on Lewinsky. That awful Lucianne Goldberg started up a whole web site with people who testified on line but not in court.

    It was this crap that put President Bush 43 in the white house. This brought about some of the most terrible conditions that are not over yet. Okay Bush screwed up in his own way and managed to destroy not only the integrity of America but brought down the Republican Party. So we are back on the side of the Democrats who won the gold ring free and clear.

    Now lets get working on how to tackle terrorism and the economy.


  7. pondering_it_all

    I suspect the perjury trap was a no-win situation. He had only oral sex with the intern. Starr asked if he “had sex” with her. Clinton interpreted that (as most people would) to mean “did you have intercourse with her” and answered “No”.

    But if he instead interpreted it to include oral sex and answered “Yes”, then his detractors would have also claimed it was perjury, since the common use of “have sex” refers to intercourse.

    Clinton’s mistake was to even entertain a question about their private sexual activities. In bygone eras a man asked such a question would have cursed the prosecutor, and then challenged him to a duel. I suppose the modern equivalent would have been to politely refuse to answer on the grounds that it was a private matter not relevant to the investigation. That would have been the end of it, since no judge would try to charge a sitting President with contempt of court for refusing to answer a question so far afield of the matter.