Sunday, January 20, 2008

What is the real “fairy tale,” Bill Clinton?

By Teresa Albano, People's Weekly World,

I'm glad Hillary Clinton is running for president. I always like her better than Bill.

When I was in high school and Jane Byrne ran for mayor of Chicago I took on the knuckle heads in my class room that a woman could do just as good a job – or better – than a man. I still hold to that belief.

Then Harold Washington ran for mayor. And what his campaign was about far surpassed the Byrne message. It was about equality, certainly. Fighting racism, absolutely. And it was about making sure everyone in Chicago got a fair share and a fair shake on city resources – not just if you worked for the infamous machine. That kind of progress surpassed any kind of sister solidarity I had at the time.

Now Bill Clinton is going around and saying that Barack Obama's opposition to the war is a "fairy tale." Well, that's not how I remember it. I remember Obama being at a number of antiwar rallies.

The "fairy tale" I never understood is Bill Clinton was the "first Black president." That he - and Hillary - did more for Black and Latino people than Obama could ever do.

That's not my memory of the Clinton years. Certainly when he was the firewall against the worst of the worst of the ultra right/Newt Gingrich attacks (government shut down, Oklahoma City bombing, impeachment) he
won wide respect from many constituencies. He had a racially and ethnically diverse cabinet. All of this won a lot of respect from the Black community, especially in the later years of his presidency.

But what I remember is that relationship was strained in many ways. And here is what I remember.

When he campaigned in 1992, he left the campaign trail to go back to Arkansas to make sure he executed an African American prisoner who was mentally disabled.

He did not come to law professor Lani Guinier's defense when she came under severe attack over her nomination for assistant attorney general for civil rights. He allowed "quota queen" (like "welfare queen") slander go unanswered.

His administration got rid of a major safety net for the very poor: welfare. Children Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman was so upset by that she cut her long established ties with Hillary Clinton. Since the cutting of welfare, deep poverty among children, especially Black and Brown children has increased.

After this welfare "deform" as it was called at the time, the GOP Gingrich-led Congress passed a measure denying LEGAL immigrants the right to enroll in Medicaid. Bill Clinton signed it into law.

I won't go into North American Free Trade Act – which has caused numerous jobloss in the U.S. and Canada and millions thrown off their land in Mexico and a more militarized U.S.-Mexico border. Nor will I go into the bombings of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Sudan which were not smart foreign policy moves.

The Clinton presidency is littered with questionable accomplishments. Yet, at the same time, he and Hillary were a thin firewall against the worst of the ultra right policies in the 1990s. Unfortunately, the Bush administration came to power and implemented many of these policies.

So, Mr. Clinton, perhaps you should have a wee bit of humbleness and consider your own "fairy tale" that you and your wife are weaving.

Teresa Albano
People's Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo
3339 S. Halsted
Chicago IL 60608
Journalists interpret the world in various ways, the point is to change it.

1 comment:

normanmarkowitz said...

Terrie has not the nail hard on the head. The "fairy tale" is about Bill Clinton as a good president. Not only was AFDC eliminated(the first major New Deal program totally removed) with his support, but his most important legislative "victory" was the passage of NAFTA. If your standards are Reagan and Bush, Clinton was a significant improvement, but that is it. In reality, he was as much as a "teflon president" in his own way as Reagan, didn't really reverse,although he softened the key Reagan policies, and weakened the Democrats as a party, even though he won two elections, and helped set the stage for Bush II. I personally don't think Hillary is that different, although the times are and, if she gets the nomination and the presidency, we, meaning all progressive people, must make sure that she won't get away with the kind of policies her husband did.