Entries Tagged as 'Bill Clinton'

The ’90s Make a Comeback

December 10th, 2011 at 12:01 am 30 Comments

The holidays are always a time for nostalgia, and this year has seen a growing outbreak of nostalgia for one decade in particular. Democrats are ranking Bill Clinton (who left office ranked by most historians in the 25-30 range of our forty-odd Presidents) now tied with JFK (and well ahead of that Cold War “perpetrator” Truman, as Democrats of the Gore Vidal/Howard Zinn school remember him). And the face of 1990s Republicanism, Newt Gingrich, is now poised to win the 2012 nomination.

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If the GOP Nominates Gingrich

David Frum December 7th, 2011 at 7:37 pm 90 Comments

It is volunteering to spend 2012 re-arguing the Clinton impeachment. Who thinks that’s a good idea?

Is Bill Clinton Still Triangulating?

May 25th, 2011 at 4:17 pm 7 Comments

In this video, ABC News catches Paul Ryan and Bill Clinton sharing a few words behind the scenes at a Pete Peterson Foundation event:

Clinton says he is glad the Democrats won in NY but says “I hope the Democrats don’t use this as an excuse to do nothing.” Ryan in turn says that he is afraid there is going to be “paralysis” over the debate but says that it’s the only way “to get this thing moving.” At the end, Clinton says that Ryan should “give him a call”.

Is Clinton just engaging in triangulation, even out of office?

Obama Keeps Bill Happy

David Frum March 29th, 2011 at 6:42 pm 14 Comments

Some speechwriter must have had a little chuckle as he drafted President Obama’s remarks at the UN.

Obama apologized to former President Clinton for keeping the Secretary of State so busy that she had no time to spend with Bill.

I had to apologize to President Clinton before he walked out because he never sees his wife. But the extraordinary work she’s doing in London today, ampoule the extraordinary work that she’s done over the past several months is part of that core understanding that when we act together, it’s a force multiplier.

You can only imagine Clinton’s reply: “No, no it’s my pleasure.”

Newt’s Old Allies Warn Against Shutdown

March 2nd, 2011 at 5:19 pm 5 Comments

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to announce a run for president soon, but if he is to continue to defend the government shutdown that he was a part of in 1995, he will have to deal with the criticisms of some of his closest allies from that era.

Gingrich has been in the news lately for his defense of the government shutdown in 1995. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gingrich argued that the shutdown was neither a mistake, nor did it cost Republicans politically in the long term:

The Washington establishment believes that the government shutdown of 1995 was a disastrous mistake that accomplished little and cost House Republicans politically.

The facts are exactly the opposite.

While the shutdown produced some short-term pain, it set the stage for a budget deal in 1996 that led to the largest drop in federal discretionary spending since 1969. The discipline imposed by this budget – overall spending grew at an average of 2.9 percent a year while I was speaker of the House, the slowest rate in decades – allowed us to reach a balanced-budget deal in 1997.

But those closest to him during that period disagree with his defense – a hurdle that Gingrich will have to overcome if he is to continue insisting on the shutdown’s success, especially given the specter of a government shutdown in the current Congress.

Dick Armey, who was majority leader during the 104th Congress, told FrumForum that Republicans “lost” the political chess match of the day.

“The shutdown was the right policy move, but we lost the public relations battle. There was, and still is, a natural tendency for people to blame the Republicans for a halt in government,” Armey, who is now the chairman of FreedomWorks, told FrumForum in a statement.

Armey was even more a critical of the shutdown when he said a few weeks ago, ”I was critical at the time… I thought we were doing a damned fool thing.”

For what it’s worth, Armey hints that he would not be as opposed to a shutdown today, as the media environment has become more balanced. “Today is very different from 1995. We have other ways of communicating our message through Twitter, Facebook, and talk radio,” he said.

Tom Delay, who was Majority Whip at the time, is otherwise unavailable for comment. But as NRO’s Jim Geraghty alludes, it is unlikely that Delay would have kind words for Gingrich’s defense.

Indeed, Delay writes in his autobiography that Gingrich’s actions looked like the “tirade of a spoiled child”:

Negotiations spiraled downward, and after Clinton vetoed a stopgap spending bill, funding for government services ran out, and a shutdown began on November 13, 1995. Not long after, Gingrich made the mistake of his life. He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One and exit from the rear on a flight to the funeral of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin. It was pitiful. The New York Daily News carried the headline “Cry Baby” above a drawing of Newt as a screaming baby in diapers. The Democrats even tried to take a blowup of the cover onto the floor of the House. Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost.

Gingrich’s presidential ambitions are clear, and it may not be long before he makes an announcement declaring his candidacy. But this candidacy will be hobbled by the defense of a shutdown that even his closest allies at the time now concede as a failure.

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Can Obama Save His Presidency?

August 31st, 2009 at 1:48 pm 25 Comments

As cold fear rises in the mainstream media that President Obama may be in over his head, my thoughts go back to a dinner I attended in New York last December. Obama had just been elected and the Right was deeply fearful that he might indeed live up to his hype and be a new FDR. One of the attendees at this dinner happened to be one of the very, very few right-of-center people who can legitimately claim to know Barack Obama well on both the personal and professional levels. (I cannot give his name because his comments were off the record, but I have provided it to the editor of New Majority.) Naturally, we were all curious about his assessment of the new president-elect. He was reluctant to speak to the subject initially, but gave in after some good-natured urging.

“Two observations,” he said. “First, I have never known him to change his mind on any issue of any significance, even when provided with new facts and new information.”

As we digested that rather disturbing bit of information, he added the second.

“And I don’t think he has the foggiest notion of how an economy works.”

When you think about it, though, neither observation ought to be terribly surprising. Unlike Bill Clinton, who had to survive in a culturally conservative state like Arkansas for two decades before becoming president, Barack Obama has lived his entire life in a left-liberal bubble. When he wasn’t living in Indonesia, he was living in Hawaii, the most culturally atypical (and one of the most politically liberal) states in the Union. From everything I’ve read about them, the grandparents who raised him would not have felt out of place at a Communist Party USA meeting. Then there was Columbia and Harvard. He cut his political teeth in Chicago, and there can be little doubt he views the private sector the way any liberal, urban politician views the private sector: as a cow to be milked. He doesn’t want the cow to die, of course. But it’s not the politician’s job to feed the cow, care for the cow, or see to it that the cow is healthy. That is somebody else’s job. All the urban liberal politician wants to hear when he gets up in the morning is that the cow is giving milk, and will give more tomorrow. The mechanics of how that actually gets done is simply not his concern. He was elected to redistribute wealth, not create it. That is what Obama was getting at in his unscripted moment with Joe the Plumber last fall.

So, for those out there who think the president is inclined – or even able – to “pull a Clinton” and tack to the political center, someone who has known him for over a decade doesn’t think it’s in his DNA. And there isn’t much evidence to the contrary. We have a president whose beliefs are rigid and who is ignorant of basic economics. Maybe all this will still work out, but any such belief has to be based more on faith than on evidence.

Universal Coverage: Stand Around & Wait

August 27th, 2009 at 8:07 am 14 Comments

Tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance. Extending coverage to them has been a core goal of health reform proposals since the 1960s. President Richard Nixon offered a universal health plan in his first administration, recipe but since then Republicans have hesitated to commit the nation to so costly an undertaking. Is it time to rethink? Should Republicans accept universal coverage as a goal?  We posed this question to NewMajority’s contributors.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I rarely discuss politics. This is because I try following the advice of the old Irish prayer:

God, mind grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, seek courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Or, as Bogey said to Ingrid Bergman in the farewell scene of Casablanca: “ . . . it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world . . . ”

Having said all that, Frum Forum asked me to comment on a political issue that I do know something about – government healthcare – OK here’s the deal:

America already has government healthcare, of course. We have Medicare for the old folks, and Medicaid for the people who can’t help themselves. We have the SCHIP program, and all sorts of government programs for Indians on reservations, the folks who live in the Marianas Islands, and then of course there’s prison medicine. Ask those folks how they like their government healthcare.

The program I’m personally familiar with is Tricare, which is the healthcare program military dependants are covered by. I pay $460 a year for Tricare coverage, which is pretty good as far as health insurance goes, but believe me, you get what you pay for.

How it works is like this: when you’re active duty, you don’t pay for healthcare. You get sick, you show up at the TMC – Troop Medical Center – and whatever you’ve got they take care of. Or try to. The old saying about Army medicine goes: “Foot powder below the waist, aspirin above.”

Tricare is for dependants; i.e. the spouses and children, and the retirees (like me). When you’re on active duty, it’s practically free: $40 a month, you don’t even notice it coming out of your LES (Leave & Earnings Statement).

Healthcare used to be free to vets for life, but Bill Clinton changed that when the WWII generation started requiring more and more care for their needs. I remember the outrage when the government started charging the vets for healthcare; that was the same crowd that was trying to ram Hillarycare down our throats.

Go to Clark Clinic on Fort Bragg on any given day and see how government medicine works. The place is always packed full of G.I. wives & children. A lot of them are there for things that normally you’d take care of on your own, at home.

Item: if healthcare is free, everybody becomes a hypochondriac.

In fact, there are so many dependants laying siege to the place, they make it inconvenient and slow, just to discourage people from going there.

Item: the government throws up hurdles between you and the doctor, so they don’t have to dish out.

It gets even better when you’re a retiree, or if you live away from a major military installation. In that case, Tricare looks like this:

There is a schedule of benefits that Tricare will pay for, and the price they will pay to providers. That price is generally 30% less than what that provider normally charges, so doctors do not like to take Tricare patients. But every area and region has a Tricare provider – somebody the government has their hooks into – their paying his tuition or whatever – and he has to take you.

Item: doctors do not like government healthcare.

When you show up, your Tricare provider is not happy to see you. He is taking a 30% cut in pay every second you are there, so all he wants to do is throw whatever pills at you it takes to get you out of there so he can get back to the paying customers.

I would tell you the nightmarish story my family went through with the birth of my first child, but it’s intensely personal. The results were a tragic disaster, they are permanent, my wife is permanently scarred and my daughter’s health has been affected for life. Take my word for it; the military’s mission is not to take care of your wife and family. Regardless of what they tell you otherwise.

What I will tell you about is this weird rash I’ve had since 1997, something that appeared after traipsing around the toxic battlefields of the former Yugoslavia. They are unable to cure it. At one point they had me scheduled to report to surgery, six weeks out, of course. When I showed up at surgery, the doc asked “What are you doing here?” I showed him my rash. He said, “What do you want us to do about it here at surgery?”

I went back to my TMC and asked the bureaucrat in charge why she had scheduled me to go there. I was on active duty at the time and I was a busy guy. Her answer? “Oh, I thought they could cut it off.”

“What, are you practicing medicine now?” I felt like picking up the paperweight off her desk and throwing it at her.

Item: government bureaucrats will instinctively behave in a manner that is counter to any kind of logic or common sense. When this phenomenon intersects with your health, look out.

To read other contributions to this symposium, click here.