Book review: The Agenda Inside the Clinton White House

Echoes out of the past


 

I picked up Bob Woodward’s “The Agenda Inside the Clinton White House” at the Goodwill store today for only $1.99. I had heard somewhat of this book and finding it available figured I’d buy it to read.  The opening chapter, Governor Bill Clinton talking with first lady of Arkansas Hillary Clinton about his future as president of the United States.  Not yet had he decided to run…

However, the decisions behind his ultimately running for office by 1992 and his announcing his run for the presidency in October of 1991 had a great many echoes:  economic distress, middle class squeeze, that frustrates the electorate on the eve of 2 November 2010.  But, then President Clinton, who was still the governor of Arkansas in 1991 was given a perspective for a “new kind of Democrat” from policy wonks such as Paul Begala, incentives from James Carville and George Stephanopoulos.  And an understanding of what was at stake for the American economy from no less than a Japanese executive:  [Quoted from the book] “‘You could do a lot to stimulate the economy,’ the executive told Clinton, ‘if your executives in American industry weren’t so greedy.'”  Governor Clinton’s own reply to that was that the Republican party only helped to foster such greed through their tax cuts.  Greed was indeed fostered through the Reagan/Bush 1 era and this country suffered an economic downturn as a consequence.  By 2001, greed had returned with a vengeance, and this country suffered an economic collapse.

When Clinton announced for the presidency in 1991, he promoted increased taxes for the wealthy and tax relief for the middle class.  His speech only received a modest amount of attention, according to Woodward.  Cut to the two years in of the Obama presidency circa 2010, the GOP are all over the airwaves about any tax increases at all being a real jobs killer.  Government supplied stimulus packages that only added to our debt and actually gave us no jobs…  Clinton was not told that his efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy would hurt job growth.  Interesting, wasn’t it.  But then again, who believed that Clinton would actually win against George H.W. Bush?  Well, he did.  Nor did Clinton’s tax hikes on the wealthy actually hurt the growth of the jobs in this country, quite the contrary, during his presidency, the jobless rate for the American workforce actually dropped, and only by the end of his presidency did the jobless rate raise slightly when the dot com bubble burst.

What is interesting today, is that in all of the GOP attack ads, whether from the candidates themselves or “Grassroots GPS,” or the Republican Senatorial Committee, none suggest that a real stimulative of the economy must come from the private sector.  That is, the business interests themselves should actually go to work, invest in this nation, and put Americans back on the payroll.  Instead, they want to quibble and harp about wasting taxpayers’ money, “Obamacare,” what Democrats did for lobbyists, etc. etc. etc.  As though that will even begin to solve anything.  The GOP make the argument that from the Democrats, the government did nothing for you except to invite “socialism” into your lives.  Vote for us, (and exactly what did the GOP offer again that would make it worthwhile to put them back into power?) and we’ll only make our interpretation of government get invited into your daily lives instead.

Considering that I have only begun to read the first chapters of this book, but I did notice some quite striking parallels between the GOP reaction to the Clinton win against Bush (1) and their reactions to Obama’s win against McCain.  Very eerie parallels indeed.  The reaction was one of fury.  From Woodward’s book, the GOP deemed the presidency to be their’s that they were entitled to it.  Obviously, the childish name calling of “socialism” was simply the GOP anger that they could lose a coveted top post to the damned Democrats.  Not that the Democrats were any more “socialist,” you see than the GOP themselves.

I will continue to read Woodward’s book and discuss more of it later.

Going on to the latest editorial from Charles Krauthammer, you get the idea from his inflamed rhetoric that he is one of those dudes who absolutely detests history lessons.  “The Agenda” is one of them.  But while he’ll use “Obamacare” (just as the GOP used the proposed health care reform to retake Congress in 1994) as an excuse for a possible take over by the GOP in the House of Representatives, his real reason is (as I am sure he wouldn’t be so honest to disclose) that Obama as the president sticks in his craw. But the argument of “revenge” or “punishment” is as blatant now as it was before the 1994 midterm elections.  If the vast majority of the electorate (with reference to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear) wants government to work, then pushing a GOP win as purely a bludgeon against the opposite party won’t make government work any better.  Which would argue that Krauthammer isn’t speaking to most of us.  (Jon Stewart’s/Stephen Colbert’s duo rally hit the national news, even locally in the Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho viewing area.)  Now that rally spoke to me.  It spoke to people holding satellite rallies across the nation, inclusive of Washington State itself.  But will it speak to the fringe lunacy that seems to have overtaken the GOP?  The fringe lunacy that Krauthammer has become a spokesperson of?  Ronald Reagan’s truly “silent majority” that go out to vote (or not) then go on about their daily lives.  They aren’t “TEA Party” members; they aren’t special interest factions; they aren’t operating on the radical fringes of either party.  But, they don’t have a candidate who can speak to them as Clinton had about 20 years ago.  Rather, the extremists have controlled who should get on their respective party’s ticket.  Which is sad.  And even sadder, that guys like Krauthammer don’t even seem to know who the Americans really are.  He represents a faction.  He preaches to that choir.

And with such a massive turnout on this 30 October 2010 rally, will the GOP recognize what the people really want and act accordingly?  Only time will tell.  Leave it to the comedians to actually wake this country up.

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4 Responses to “Book review: The Agenda Inside the Clinton White House”

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