Saturday, September 22, 2012

Looking Back at Clinton

When former president Bill Clinton addressed the Democratic convention this summer, his speech reminded people of just why he was such a formidable politician.  Clearly thought out, cogent and focused, Clinton provided a useful political heft for the convention organisers, and no-one doubted that his position in Barack Obama's corner remained immensely valuable to the Democratic incumbent.  Obama is of course seeking to ensure that Clinton is no longer the only Democrat to have served two full terms as president since the war.

Meanwhile, the BBC are currently running a documentary series on Clinton which is well worth catching up on.  His campaigning skills are legendary and he has managed more comebacks from apparent disasters than pretty well any other modern politician.  Clinton represented a fresh hope - much as his political idol JFK did in the 1960 - but entered the White House so little prepared that too much of that hope dissipated in the chaos of his leadership.  Clinton presided over a period that was, for the most part, a feelgood time for his country, but I was struck at just how little he seeemed to be able to push any sort of liberal agenda in his first two years, the only time when his own party controlled Congress.  Clinton is an intriguing study as politician and president, but Obama will be the one who stands comparison against great liberal reformers who pushed changes through a Washington system such as LBJ.  Meanwhile, as Obama continues the fight to continue his own presidency, a look back at the last Democrat in the White House is a fascinating interlude.

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