Friday, April 15, 2016

Clintonism, RIP

President Bill Clinton, right, and first lady Hillary Clinton in 1994, the year Bill Clinton’s crime bill was passed.

How far they’ve come. And I’m not talking about the GOP, whose front-runner representing37 percent of the Republican electorate has repudiated post-Reagan orthodoxy on trade, entitlement reform, limited government and Pax Americana (and possibly abortion, but who knows?). I’m talking about the Democrats.
The center-left, triangulating, New Democrat (Bill) Clintonism of the 1990s is dead. It expired of unnatural causes, buried — definitively, if unceremoniously — by its very creator.
The final chapter occurred last week when, responding to Black Lives Matter hecklers denouncing his 1994 crime bill, Bill Clinton unleashed an impassioned defense. He accused the protesters of discounting the thousands of lives, mostly black, that were saved amid the crack epidemic of the time because gang leaders and other bad guys got locked up.
Yet the next day, the big dog came out, tail between his legs, saying he regretted the incident and almost wanted to apologize. It was a humiliating, Soviet-style recantation obviously meant to protect his wife’s campaign, which depends on the African American vote to fend off Bernie Sanders.
How far has the party moved left? Under Bill Clinton, it gave up on gun control after stinging defeats in the 1994 midterms. Today, Hillary Clinton delights in attacking Sandersfor being soft on gun control. Malleable she is. And she sure knows her party.
It is nothing like her husband’s party. Which is why she campaigns as Bernie lite — they share the same goals, she says, but she can get things done. Hence the greatest irony of all: For the past decade and a half, the main propellant for the Hillary-for-president movement has been the rosy afterglow of Bill’s 1990s, the end-of-history era of peace, prosperity and balanced budgets.
Want it back? Vote Hillary. That’s the tease. Yet a Hillary victory would yield a Clinton Redux animated not by Bill but by Bernie.

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