Monday, February 19, 2007


Dog Shoots Man

"Clinton wasn’t such a bad president," says Christopher Ruddy, a major architect of the "vast right-wing conspiracy". "In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and [Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today."

The observations of Ruddy and other veterans of the "Clinton Wars" are another indication why Hillary may not be as "unelectable" as many (including many Democrats) assume.
[Many] other conservative fund-raisers and organizers acknowledge that the grass-roots hatred for Mrs. Clinton and her husband has subsided substantially since they left the White House.

National efforts to raise money to stop Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns in New York in 2000 and 2006 never got off the ground. Nor did plans to raise money for a “counter-Clinton” library in Little Rock. And conservatives note to their consternation that at the moment the woman they treat as the incarnation of 1960s liberalism appears to be campaigning as the least liberal of the Democratic front-runners.
If even the fires of her most full-throated fire-breathing enemies of the past have subsided, does this not suggest that a legitimate opening exists for her continue her ongoing "reintroduction" to the broader public?

As an aside, one must wonder if the cooling of some anti-Clinton passions has to do with the contrast between two very different presedencies. Joseph Bottum, editor of the conservative Catholic journal First Things, makes this observation (Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan):
Where [Bill] Clinton seemed a man of enormous political competence and no principle, Bush has been a man of principle and very little political competence. The security concerns after the attacks of September 11 and the general tide of American conservatism carried Republicans through the elections of 2002 and 2004. But by 2006 Bush had squandered his party’s advantages, until even the specter of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House was not enough to keep the Republicans in power.

To abandon Iraq now would be the height of irresponsibility. It would lock in place the perception of defeat, with all the predictable consequences, and it would abandon the Iraqis to whom we promised freedom and democracy. President Bush has clearly done the right thing in refusing retreat and pledging to stay the course in Iraq.

But hasn’t that always been the problem? Again and again, he has done the right thing in the wrong way, until, at last, his wrongness has overwhelmed his rightness. How can conservatives continue to support this man in much of anything he tries to do? Iraq is not America’s failure, and it is not conservatism’s failure. We are where we are because of George W. Bush’s failure.

In retrospect, Clinton looks successful because he would make deals with political opponents when he could -- and co-opt their issues and rhetoric at every turn. Frankly, what also made Clinton a good president was that he was forced to deal with an energetic opposition with major oversight powers. While that may have been to the detriment of the country in certain ways, it also forced him to work within specific limits. Even with a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate for 18 months in 2001 and 2002, the legacy of 9/11 gave George W. Bush more unilateral political power than is healthy for any presidency.

UPDATE: Christopher Ruddy sends an e-mail:
Some clarifications: I told the Times reporter that, "In terms of domestic policy,Clinton was not a bad president..." -- citingwelfare reform, his cooperation with the GOP in restraining federal spending, etc.

Not mentioned in the article: I also added that I continue to stand behind my reporting about aspects of the Clinton scandals that I reported on during the 90s.
Additionally, I noted that Hillary will be a polarizing article -- and that NewsMax Magazine had devoted a recent cover storyto that subject.

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