The Plank

More On Barack V. Bill

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I just have a quick point about David Greenberg's post below, which discusses Ryan Lizza's New Yorker piece on Bill Clinton. Greenberg writes:

For example, in The New Yorker today there is a dig
at the former president that repeats Barack Obama’s false claim that
jobs “fell through the Clinton Administration and the Bush
Administration.” Oddly, the piece--by Ryan Lizza, late of this
magazine, and by all accounts a fair and careful reporter--fails to
state explicitly, as a factual matter, that Obama was simply wrong
about this claim.

Here is Obama's full quote:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of
small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years
and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the
Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each
successive administration has said that somehow these communities are
gonna regenerate and they have not.

It
seems clear to me, at least, that Obama is not saying we had a net job
loss in the Clinton administration. Rather, he is arguing that certain
industrial communities in the midwest have faced hardships over the
past 25 years regardless of who has been in the White House. Ryan's
piece is simply saying that the former president finds even this
argument unfair--which is a reasonable, debatable point--but
Greenberg's claim about Obama being "wrong" is much too
black-and-white.

As for Greenberg's argument that the Obama campaign wrote a memo "seeking to construe innocent remarks by Bill and Hillary and their supporters as racist," readers can draw their own conclusions about whether Bill Shaheen's and Mark Penn's comments about cocaine use--which the memo details-- were "innocent." (Admittedly, some of the things mentioned in the memo were indeed harmless).

--Isaac Chotiner

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