Tilting at Windmills

January/February 2012 Memories of Bill

By Charles Peters

During the last year or so I’ve heard an increasing number of my liberal friends speak longingly of Bill Clinton’s presidency, either impliedly or explicitly comparing him favorably to Obama. They seem to have forgotten how they lambasted Clinton for the triangulation strategy he and his then guru, Dick Morris, concocted, and what they regarded as his sellout on welfare reform, his waffling on gays in the military, not to mention his series of errors in selecting his attorney general, or his failure to pass his health bill, or the embarrassment that his affair with Monica Lewinsky brought to them, himself, and the country.

I say all this not because I don’t like, even delight in, Bill Clinton, but because I fear the contrast to Obama in their minds contributes to the “since Obama has flaws, we can’t get excited about supporting him” attitude that seems to consume too many liberals.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.


  • Brian T. Raven on January 14, 2012 8:42 PM:

    Clinton was a disappointment, but I held my nose and voted for him a second time. Obama has not been a disappointment. In those matters where he's made decisions I don't agree with, I understand why it had to be. He's governing, and I trust him. Why wouldn't I vote for him again? Who else in the last dozen elections or so was more deserving of a second vote of confidence?

  • Robert on February 23, 2012 2:12 PM:

    For this Democrat Clinton was good, not great, on policy and a skilled politician. I disliked the triangulation -can't stomach Morris- but it was effective. But Clinton's serious character flaw undermined his Presidency, weakened Gore, enabled W and hurt Hillary's Presidential ambitions.

    Obama, who I liked from 2004, is better on policy, a much better 'executive', almost as good a politician, has more important policy 'wins' and has no character flaws.

    Obama 2012!