March 31, 2002


Citizen Clinton Up Close : On the Fly: He’s still in crazy motion—buckraking at the speed of sound, running for history and trying to make peace with past sins. An exclusive portrait of his new life (Jonathan Alter, March 31, 2002, NEWSWEEK)
‘Life is Fleeting, Man’ : Interview: Bill Clinton speaks his mind—on the Marc Rich pardon, the ‘permanent right-wing establishment,’ his own hunt for Osama bin Laden and the world without Buddy (Jonathan Alter, March 31, 2002, NEWSWEEK)
ALTER : Through historical fate, you missed the leadership challenge of your generation. It has to be something you’ve mused about.

CLINTON : I have a totally different view of that. I think 30 years from now when people will look back on it, that the things that we did to deal with the domestic and foreign issues we dealt with—with Russia, with China, with NATO, with NAFTA, in the Balkans, what we did in getting rid of the horrible fiscal problems of the country and a lot of the domestic things we did—I think that it will be just fine. I do not believe this will be viewed 30, 40, 50 years from now in the same light as World War II. And we did a lot of work on terrorism and we’ve been working on it for years.

That’s not to say I don’t think this was very important. This is something we’ll have to deal with from now on. But if we can keep them from getting weapons of mass destruction, I think we will prevail.

Until we get access to an awful lot of classified data, years down the road, that will tell us exactly what the Clinton White House knew or should have known about bin Laden and al Qaeda, I'm actually inclined to cut him some slack on the terrorism angle. After all, it's not like the current administration was locked and loaded on September 10th. But what makes Clinton such a disappointing president is something he's still not faced up to; it's the failure to address the sea change in American government following the Cold War, a sea change which he acknowledged when he said : "The era of Big Government is over."

Had he been a serious and responsible person he would have done an "only Nixon can go to China" deal and really tried streamlining government to see if it can de made it work for people, reduced the tax burden, and reformed entitlements. Even had he done all that he'd still be vermin (he did after all rape Juanita Broadrick), but his presidency would have at least served a useful purpose.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2002 10:19 PM
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