Thursday, July 27, 2006

Defending the Clinton legacy (July 06 Manistee News Advocate)

Even six years after he left office, people still enjoy bashing Bill Clinton. He doesn’t hold a public office anymore, so it’s difficult to understand why he’s still so hotly debated. The most common complaint about Mr. Clinton is one I know Dave will bring up; that he lied to the American public about the Monica Lewinsky affair, so how do we know he wasn’t lying about anything else? Unfortunately, because of this feeling, this episode will haunt Bill’s legacy forever. I have to point out that just because he lied about an issue which was personally embarrassing and of a private nature, this does not mean that he was untruthful in his capacity as the commander in chief. Unfortunately, the media was successful in making a personal issue a public one. Because of this political fiasco, Americans have forgotten Clinton’s political record, which is very unfortunate, as it was quite impressive. # The longest economic expansion in American history -- a record 115 months of growth. # More than 22 million new jobs were created in less than eight years -- the most ever under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous twelve years.# The Lowest unemployment rate in 30 years -- from 7 percent in 1993 to just 4.0 percent in November 2000. # The lowest crime rate in 26 years -- because of President Clinton’s comprehensive anti-crime strategy of tough penalties, more police, and smart prevention, as well as common sense gun safety laws, the overall crime rate declined for 8 consecutive years, the longest continuous drop on record.# The Family and Medical Leave Act was created for 20 million Americans -- over 20 million Americans have taken unpaid leave to care for a newborn child or sick family member.# The smallest welfare rolls in 32 years -- the President signed landmark bipartisan welfare reform legislation in 1996. Since then, caseloads have been cut in half, and millions of parents have joined the workforce. # Paid off $360 billion of the national debt -- between 1998-2000, the national debt was reduced by $363 billion — the largest three-year debt pay-down in American history.# Converted the largest budget deficit in American history to the largest surplus -- thanks in large part to the 1993 Deficit Reduction Act, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, and President Clinton’s call to save the surplus for debt reduction, Social Security, and Medicare solvency. If the Lewinsky affair was completely erased from the record books, we would be left only with this record. This list is far from complete, and is still remarkable. I challenge Republicans to debate this political legacy, rather than focus on the former president’s private life. And for the record, Dave, despite my defense of the man, I too am angry with and disappointed in President Clinton for besmirching his record so foolishly -- just not enough to forget all of the good political works he accomplished while he was in office.

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