‘Bush said he insulates himself from the ‘opinions’ that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories. ‘I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news,’ the president said. ‘And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world.”
The Associated Press, September 22.

☞ Scary.

Bill F: ‘OK, I promise I’ll read Al Franken’s book and keep an open mind. I think I am like a good number of Americans – I am not thrilled with Bush, but am worried about what could happen with a Dem. After all, can we agree Clinton did not leave a strong legacy?’

☞ Clinton left us with an unprecedented budget surplus, the best economy in history, and the general respect and affection of most of the world. Perhaps it’s no surprise he left office with the highest approval rating (65% by one poll, 68% by another) in history, or at least since polls had first come to be taken.

He left us with plans in place for continuing to pursue Osama Bin Laden (plans Bush was made aware of in the most urgent terms 13 days before he was inaugurated, but decided to ignore) . . . he left us with at least some reasonably constructive dialog between Israel and the Palestinians (which Bush decided, disastrously, to abandon) . . . and with Korean negotiations in place (which, again, Bush decided to abandon).

Yes, the dot-com bubble had burst, and a recession may well have been brewing. (By talking it up, and by rattling the securities markets with his patently irresponsible tax cut plans, Bush may well have hastened and deepened it.) But the Clinton/Gore plan was to ‘save Social Security first,’ which was just the kind of prudent fiscal policy the financial markets would have liked. Instead of blowing the surplus on tax cuts for those who needed them least – and who would be least likely to spend them to stimulate the economy – Clinton/Gore had in mind to keep sound finances, spending prudently on things people really needed.

And look at the people Clinton had in place! SEC chair Arthur Levitt – compare him with Harvey Pitt. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers – compare him (or Bob Rubin, his predecessor) with John Snow (or Paul O’Neill, his predecessor).

Clinton left us with a dazzling military force (bad-mouthed by Bush during the campaign) that performed in Afghanistan and Iraq spectacularly well. To quote Vice President Cheney, ‘A commander in chief leads the military built by those who came before him. There is little he or his defense secretary can do to improve the force they have to deploy. It is all the work of previous administrations.’

Clinton left us with cleaner water and air and huge new tracts of national parkland. With enthusiasm for alternative technologies that would lead to both greater energy independence and exciting new business opportunities.

He left us with after-school programs for many (since cut back) and college aid for all (since cut back) and Americorps (a Bush budget-cutting target).

He left us with regulations that would have allowed FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, swiftly to defuse the mysterious ‘energy crisis’ that drained tens of billions of dollars from California to Texas – authority which, under Bush, FERC chose not to assert.

He left millions of us who are gay or lesbian – and our families – with a significantly greater sense of self-worth and opportunity.

He left us with years of steadily declining poverty and crime, steadily rising homeownership . . . and a general sense we were on the right track.

He left us with a good balance between the haves (who were doing great) and the have-nots (who were not entirely shut out of the prosperity) . . . a balance Bush moved immediately to shift radically in favor of the haves.

So, yes, while many people choose to remember only the blue dress and forget the rest (many of them, ironically, the very same people who, though deploring sexual misconduct and violence in films, will vote enthusiastically for Arnold Schwarzenneger today), I would argue that President Clinton left a terrific legacy. (And that Al Gore provided an important assist.)

This is, of course, just my view. Thank you, Bill, for keeping an open mind. It is the very best kind.


Breaking News from the Borowitz Report

Schwarzenegger Victory Could Mean Billions for Joke Industry

In the final hours of the California gubernatorial campaign, candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger received the coveted endorsement of the Golden State’s comedians, who hope that the election of the easy-to-ridicule actor will mean billions of dollars in new revenue for California’s troubled comedy industry.

And, from ‘Dan’ . . .

Top ten reasons to vote against the Recall

1. It sets a bad precedent. Intended to provide a popular check on corruption, it would instead allow a process funded by one wealthy individual (Daryl Issa) to overturn the results of an election less than a year ago.

2. If successful, it will create a new era of “perpetual campaigning” as governors will need to fund-raise and be constantly vigilant about possible partisan recalls.

3. It’s un-democratic. A small plurality can elect a new governor with many fewer votes than were cast in the general election.

4. Davis, although not popular, has been a better governor than his detractors claim. He’s improved education funding, increased health insurance coverage of children through the Healthy Children’s program, and signed important domestic partnership legislation, among other positives.

5. The Recall punishes a Democratic governor for Washington’s domestic policy failures. As the L.A. Times notes (Sept 28, p. 28), state spending under Davis has not increased faster than under his Republican predecessor. But…the Bush recession has whacked state revenues.

6. The Recall, if successful, would likely replace a man who has served as Lt. Governor, Controller, Chief of Staff to a Governor and State Assemblyman and put a complex multi-billion dollar state government in the hands of a candidate (Schwarzenegger) who has never administered anything.

7. Schwarzenegger’s refusal to reveal his plans on the crucial issue–the state budget–is reminiscent of former President Nixon’s “secret plan to end the war.” He says he won’t cut education (40% of the budget), supports the “Healthy Families” program for kids’ health insurance (a large part of increased state healthcare spending) and will reduce the vehicle license fee that provides critical state revenue. It can’t add up! Voters shouldn’t reward those who won’t reveal their priorities before an election.

8. Schwarzenegger promised not to take special interest money. Now he does and makes no apologies for the about-face.

9. Schwarzenegger didn’t even have a good record as a voter in California, having missed numerous elections. Why the sudden civic interest?

10. Schwarzenegger has refused a one-on-one debate with the Governor and refused to participate in any debate in which the questions were not submitted in advance.


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