Monday, 28 September 2009

Bill Clinton Frets “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”

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Bill ClintonPresident Bill Clinton resurrected the spectre of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” against President Obama in a Sunday interview with NBC's September 27 Meet the Press program. Asked by host David Gregory if he believed that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” his wife spoke of back during his presidency was behind the opposition to Obama's agenda, Clinton replied: “Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was, because America's changed demographically, but it's as virulent as it was.”

Clinton's quip has made the run of news shows since it was first aired, with Clinton noting that the proliferating protests against ever bigger government and deeper debt at the Tea Parties were “not really good for the Republicans and the country, what's going on now.” He did acknowledge that the Tea Parties have slowed enactment of President Obama's agenda, though he claimed this was bad for the country. “I mean, they may be hurting President Obama. They can take his numbers down, they can run his opposition up. But fundamentally, he and his team have a positive agenda for America. Their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail, and that's not a prescription for a good America.”

Despite President Clinton's claim that Obama's big-spending, big-government agenda is "a postive agenda for America," he did obliquely acknowledge that the nation's finances were out of control. “We actually need a credible debate about what's the right balance between continuing to expand the economy through stimulus and beginning to move back to fiscal balance,” Clinton told Gregory. It was a far cry from a candid assessment of America's looming national bankruptcy, but the message was clear nonetheless: Even Clinton acknowledges spending has increased too quickly and the deficit risen out of control.

Obama is clearly further to the left than Bill Clinton, who famously proclaimed to the nation that “the era of big government is over” even as he pushed policies that involved bigger government. The statement obviously had more to do with telling the American people what they wanted to hear than with Clinton's core beliefs.

But today, as David Gregory noted, “the era of big government being over appears to be over in and of itself, whether it's the stimulus, whether it's bailouts, financial regulation or this issue of health care.” And even Clinton is acknowledging that the nation needs to discuss how to cut the deficit down to size, while criticizing citizen activists who are already doing the same.

The return of big-government proposals from Democratic leaders will undoubtedly mean a rough year for the Democratic Party in 2010, but Clinton doesn't envision a repeat of the 50-seat loss in the House that Democrats experienced in 1994. “It, it — there's no way they can make it that bad,” Clinton said, “for several reasons. Number one, the country is more diverse and more interested in positive action. Number two, they've seen this movie before, because they had eight years under President Bush when the Republicans finally had the whole government, and they know the results were bad. And number three, the Democrats haven't taken on the gun lobby like I did, and they took 15 out of our members out. So I don't think it'll be — whatever happens, it'll be manageable for the president.”

But even Clinton had to admit that his assessment of Democratic prospects in 2010 is contingent upon an economic recovery. Gregory asked Clinton: “Do you think the president's done a good enough job selling government as the solution?” And Clinton suggested that “I think that it doesn't matter how hard he sells, the people have to see the results.”

And that's the key issue, as President Obama tries to resurrect the economy via the failed policies of the past — more spending, more deficits and debts, more money creation and the artificial lowering of interest rates through the Fed. If the bubble bursts again before November 2010, election night could be a particularly long night for Democrats.

Photo: AP Images

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