Back to the Future, Clinton-Style

Back to the Future, Clinton-Style
By Christopher Ruddy | February 27, 2007

As Hillary Rodham Clinton comes under withering attack from the likes of Barack Obama, John Edwards, and the anti-war left, she will continue to do what she has been doing to win her party’s nomination — she will cling to her husband’s mantle.

But that mantle is not made of pure iron. It is, in fact, wrought of good and bad metals.

Hillary likes to talk about her husband’s economic record in the 1990s as if it were her own. “We know how to do the economy right — we did it in the 1990s,” she said in a Senate speech.

For sure, the ’90s were good years for America, and Bill Clinton can share in some of the credit. But a large amount of the credit is due to Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America Republicans who stormed Capitol Hill in 1994 and overthrew decades of Democratic waste and runaway spending.

Sensing the change in America, Bill quickly jettisoned his liberal economic ideas, especially Hillarycare, and took a more centrist approach.

He also took some advice from political guru Dick Morris, who advised him to govern from the middle, embrace welfare reform, and work with the Republicans.

Good came out of it.

Federal spending was restrained; taxes remained in check; the country prospered. Clinton’s economic record, I must reluctantly admit, looks even better after the past six years; in which we have seen the largest increase in federal discretionary spending since LBJ’s “Great Society” spending spree — with overall federal outlays up more than 40 percent during the Bush administration.

There is a dark side to the Clinton years, however.

For one thing, scandal after scandal plagued the president. Hillary may claim a “right-wing conspiracy,” but it is doubtful Americans will want to return to such a polarizing period.

Then there were the national security matters.

Those of us who covered the Clinton presidency — and wrote about such lofty issues as obstruction of justice and cover-ups — feared that Bill’s domestic scandals only mirrored ones he had on the national security side.

We received stark confirmation of this on Sept. 11, 2001, when 19 hijackers engaged in the most horrific attack on the U.S. homeland since Pearl Harbor. More than 2,970 Americans died, beginning a new global conflict —the war on terror.

There is ample evidence that Bill Clinton and his administration had solid opportunities to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, but failed to act.

NewsMax’s Carl Limbacher broke the story. Amazingly, in 2002, Bill admitted he had the opportunity to get bin Laden before he left the Sudan in 1996, but declined an offer from the Sudanese to turn him over to the United States.

Vanity Fair called that NewsMax revelation the “most devastating” dark spot on Bill Clinton’s record.

We do not know the full story of what happened during the Clinton years in the lead-up to 9/11, partly because Bill’s National Security adviser, Sandy Berger, as we now know, went to the National Archives and stuffed classified documents into his socks and underwear so he could deprive the 9/11 Commission of them.

The terror front was not the only national security lapse during the Clinton years, however. It was during the Clinton presidency that China became a major nuclear superpower. It has been acknowledged that some of America’s most guarded nuclear secrets, including our ballistic missile technology, were passed to China with the president’s OK. Before this, China was so backward that its missiles would often blow up soon after launch. Today, they can hit U.S. cities with pinpoint accuracy.

Adding to the mess, we now know that North Korea acquired the nuclear bomb during Clinton years, a secret the Clinton administration kept from both the American public and the incoming Bush administration. So yes, Hillary will grab onto Clinton’s economic mantle. But George Bush, who has prevented any further 9/11-style attack during his presidency, still holds the “tough on terror” mantle.

Hillary will have a difficult time persuading Americans she deserves to have it and become our commander in chief.

Christopher Ruddy is Editor of

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