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Bill Blasts Back
August 1, 2002
By Richard Prasad

Maybe it wasn't as heartwarming as the rescue of the miners in Pennsylvania, or as breathtaking as a 400 point Dow rally, but Bill Clinton finally spoke out against what had been a two year smear campaign carried out by the Bush administration and their minions. And boy, was it good to hear.

The Clinton bashing started even before George W became President. Bush spoke endlessly about bringing integrity and honesty back to the White House, a not-so-veiled reference to Clinton's Whitewater troubles. And whenever he could, candidate Bush blasted the economy, but I guess it's not talking down the economy when GWB does it, is it? Candidate Bush was just being honest.

The finger pointing continued when Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer stupefied even the White House by blaming the current Middle East situation on - you guessed it - Clinton. The White House had to apologize for such mind-numbing stupidity, even though anyone who's heard Ari speak should be used to mind-numbing stupidity by now. Never mind that the Bushies had done nothing about the Middle East from day one of their administration and that Clinton and Barak had brought the Middle East closer to peace then it had been since Carter - it is still Clinton's fault for not finishing the job right. That is what Republicans believe with all their heart.

The scapegoating reached crescendo levels recently when Bush blamed the recent corporate scandals on "the excesses of the 90's." This was another not-so-veiled reference to Clinton's so-called loose moral standards. And, at least in the beginning of this corporate mess Americans actually bought that argument. In a recent poll, 26% blamed Clinton for the corporate scandals and 25% blamed Bush. Those figures boggle the mind.

Consider the facts on the corporate scandals. It was Newt Gingrich and his pals that weakened the accounting rules in the 90's, and it was Arthur Levit, Clinton's Chairman of the SEC that tried to institute a wall of separation between accounting and consulting work by the accounting firms. More facts? Hallibuton 'cooked the books' in the 1990's in the same way that has Enron, Worldcom, et al. in so much trouble. And who was Hallibuton's CEO? Our illustrious vice president in hiding, Dick Cheney. Do you think Uncle Dick is gonna get any jail time for his accounting shenanigans? Hell no!

And Dubya, well, we all know about his business acumen don't we? From Arbusto to Spectrum 7 to Harken Energy to the Texas Rangers, he left a wake of ruined businesses behind him, and does he have any jail time to show for his shady business practices, including taking a loan to buy stock, a practice for which Bush himself now chastises other CEO's? Of course not. In fact he walked away from all three businesses with millions more than when he started. Hypocrisy anyone?

It was against this backdrop that Clinton made his remarks. And modest remarks they were. Speaking to a reporter from station WJLA in Washington, Clinton said, "There was malfeasance before he took office and after, the difference is, I tried to do something about it and their party stopped it." When asked if Bush's policies are taking the country in the right direction, Clinton demurred saying, "I really don't want to offer an opinion on that." "But I think it's a mistake for them to try to blame us for it though, because we have a clear and unbroken record of trying to clear up these corporate abuses."

On the foreign policy front, beginning with the Middle East, Clinton said "I think it was a mistake to get out of it for a year, the important thing is that now they be involved." I believe any objective reading of the Middle East situation would fault Bush's inaction more than Clinton's action for the current situation we're in. On Somalia, Clinton said, "I didn't blame his father for Somalia." Correct. Clinton didn't blame Bush Sr. for Somalia, even though it was Sr who got the US involved in Somalia in the first place. Real leaders don't point fingers. Real leaders work on finding solutions.

And that's what Bill Clinton did, he found the US the world's biggest debtor nation and he left with a surplus. He saw corporate crime about to happen and tried to get Arthur Levitt to fix it, he launched peace initiatives in Ireland and the Middle East, and won wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, that were thought to be unwinnable, and does he get the nation's thanks? No, on the contrary, he gets blamed for everything that is currently wrong with the country. Whether he tried to change it for the better is immaterial to the Clinton haters. We didn't get Bin Laden - blame Clinton. Corporate leaders run amok - blame Clinton. No peace in the Middle East - blame Clinton The sun is not shining this morning - blame Clinton. The haters do, and always will despise Bill Clinton.

Will we ever get as truly objective view of Bill Clinton's legacy? Probably not. What we will get is more stories, like the ones in the papers this week. The ones about the Clintons asking judges for millions of dollars to pay off their Whitewater debt. Don't think the Bushies weren't pleased as punch when that story appeared in the newspapers. Here's something the Republicans won't talk about - Bill Clinton is not the first to ask for reimbursement for their legal debts, Reagan and Bush Sr did it before him. Where was the manufactured outrage then? Nowhere! And never mind the $64 million and eight years that was spent to find out that the Clintons lost money on a land deal. That taxpayer money is insignificant isn't it? Money well spent Republicans say, more hypocrisy from the elephantine party that seems to reinvent hypocrisy daily.

I would gladly pay off the Clintons' legal bills myself if I could, and beg Bill to come back to fix what out current president has so unceremoniously screwed up. At least someone is trying to set the record straight about the 90's, and that man is Bill Clinton. And for a few brief moments this week, Clinton was back, and I remembered why I am a Democrat.

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