Revisionist intellectuals are fully engaged in an effort to rewrite the history of the past ten years. If they succeed, liberalism might have a future. If they fail, it will be a long, dark night for left thinking people.
In their new version of history, the Clinton Era was a prelapsarian Eden, a bright, innocent world before the Fall that was caused by the Bush administration. When revisionist historians claim that the Bush response to the terror attack was a defining error they are promulgating a narrative that begins with an original sin.
These same intellectuals had believed that Obama was the Messiah who was going to redeem the sins that the Bush administration had visited on America.
Many of them are not having buyers’ remorse over their Messiah, but that does not mean that they are going to give up the narrative. They will simply start looking for a new Messiah.
For that role, Hillary seems to be a natural. Imagine the new liberal gospel about the Passion of Hillary. Think of all the stories about how HRC suffered an inhuman humiliation to save the nation and the world from Republicans.
By now, the nostalgia for the Clinton Era is so strong that many people who should know better seem to be yearning for President Hillary.
My only advice: be careful what you wish for.
Clinton balanced the budget, we are told, and Bush ran unconscionably large deficits.
Clinton raised taxes and produced prosperity. Bush lowered taxes and created a housing bubble.
Clinton gave us a world at peace. Bush fought unnecessary wars that we couldn’t afford.
Isn’t it better to be consumed in debate about a semen-stained dress than to watch the world financial system veer toward a precipice? Isn’t it healthier to have a president who has an active sex life than to have one who fights wars?
Yet, when we look at the past through rose-colored glasses, we often have a very selective memory. It’s even worse when we have our heads in the sand.
Now that the new narrative is taking hold, few of us recall that before the Bush administration had taken office the NASDAQ, and with it the tech bubble, had crashed. By January 2001 the NASDAQ had lost 60% of its value and the economy was either in a recession or heading toward one.
Eventually, the NASDAQ would decline nearly 80% before bottoming out.
Admittedly, it is not very gallant, but Republicans would do well to remind the country of what Bush inherited from Clinton. Given the crash of the NASDAQ was there any possibility that the federal budget would have remained in balance.
While America was discussing Bill Clinton’s cigar habit, it was ignoring looming dangers in other parts of the world. In fact, al Qaeda had declared war on America in 1998.
Fouad Ajami offers some needed perspective on the Clinton Era: “ …we should have taken notice of that ‘declaration of war,’ of the attacks on our embassies in Kenya and Tunisia in the summer of 1998, of the two men in their skiff [who attacked the USS Cole] and of a long trail of anti-American terror. But in our time of hubris, during that long bull run, we had waived it all off. Had we seen the glee ashore in Aden when that skiff had struck our mighty ship, had we been reading the tracts of a new breed of Islamist, had we half-understood the fight between the pro-American autocrats and their disaffected, militant children, we might have readied ourselves for that war. We might have refrained from downgrading our intelligence and military capabilities.”
“In our time of hubris” the media had convinced us that our rosy-cheeked, lusty president had taken us beyond history and had ushered in an Age of Aquarius.
Ajami describes the time well: “But the 1990s were the Bill Clinton era—the globalization president, he was dubbed. He had his sunny view of the world and he was convinced that wars and ideologies were a thing of the past. He was relentless in pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, so convinced was he that the Palestine question was the source of the maladies of the region. But in that vast Islamic world, there were troubles aplenty. And there was a radicalism that paid little heed to the matter of Palestine. Islamist militants and true believers embittered in the prisons of Jordan and Egypt and Tunisia and Algeria, had prepared for a new kind of war.”
Bill Clinton lulled America into complacency. Convinced we were on the right side of history, we were unprepared for what was to befall us. That was one reason why the terror attacks were not intercepted and why they came as such a complete shock.