This weekend in Little Rock, Bill Clinton and an all-star cast of political alumni will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his formal entry into the 1992 presidential race. But the candidate decision that did the most to bequeath Clinton the Democratic nomination did not occur until December 20, 1991.
For Israelis, this is the time of the return of the lie. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tells the UN General Assembly that Israel bears sole blame for the origins of the conflict, that Israel is the sole obstacle to resolving it, and that, in effect, the Jews have no connection to the land of Israel. And he receives a standing ovation. This is also a time of inversion of expectations: Barack Obama, Israelis’ least favorite president, emerges as the defender of truth, while Bill Clinton, whom Israelis adored, joins the distorters.
The Obama administration, after failing to head off a Palestinian request to the Security Council for United Nations membership, is prepared to use its veto against it. In an undistinguished address to the General Assembly on Wednesday, President Barack Obama advised the Palestinians to bypass the UN and to confine their campaign for statehood to negotiations with Israel.
If you haven’t noticed already, the polling about President Obama’s jobs proposal is very confusing. Ask people whether they like the plan as a whole, or how they rate Obama’s handling of the economy, and you’re likely to get a negative, or at best middling, response. In last week’s CBS/New York Times poll, for example, only 34 percent of respondents said they approved of Obama’s management of the economy while 47 percent said they were confident the jobs bill would help.
In his post-presidential career, Bill Clinton has been busy at work on some very serious issues—poverty, AIDS prevention, global warming, and more. That, he says, is why he recently had to decline an invitation to appear on “Dancing With The Stars.” (The risk of looking ridiculous might have been another factor in his decision.) Clinton said that when approached with the offer, “I told them I didn’t have the time to train for it.” He also cited the rigorous training regimen: “You really work at it.
Is this a slow news week or something? Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to appear on all three Sunday morning chat shows to discuss next week's annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. It isn't even the first one! It's the seventh! Look, I know Sting and Geena Davis will be there, and Muhammad Yunus (to provide a little glitz). And sure, the guy's married to the current secretary of state. But can't David and Bob and Christiane do any better? When the Carter Center throws a shindig our 39th president never gets this kind of network-news love. What's Bill Clinton's secret?
The most significant policy disagreement in last week’s Republican debate went almost unnoticed. The moderator asked Jon Huntsman, “What does Governor Romney not get about China?” After noting America’s economic weakness and the need to focus on our tasks here at home, Huntsman remarked, “I’d have to say, Mitt, now is not the time … to enter a trade war.” Behind this exchange lies a remarkable development. A few days before the debate, Romney’s campaign released “Believe in America,” a book-length economic plan. In most respects it summarized standard conservative positions.
Well, not quite or maybe just not yet. Tom Friedman has called for the establishment of a third party, which is the alternative put forward almost every time a Democratic president disappoints. And Tom’s disappointment is hardly an insignificant occurrence in the president’s ongoing campaign for reelection. This time, there’s another incentive, and it is that the Republicans may nominate, as the Democrats see it, one of several crackpots who just might win in 2012. Of course, this is not exactly logical.
Fifteen years ago this week, President Bill Clinton gave his controversial signature to landmark welfare reform legislation. The anniversary has not gotten a lot of attention, even though the program created to replace “welfare as we know it” in 1996 is up for reauthorization by September 30. A few conservatives have rehearsed their revisionist histories of the 1996 law, according to which Clinton was forced to sign a bill he had vetoed twice (which ignores the rather profound differences in the three measures).
It was not so long ago that George W. Bush seemed to embody the future of conservatism. He had entered office amid doubts about his rightful place there, but pressed ahead nonetheless with grand ambitions, conducting an ideologically potent foreign war while also promising much at home. Which led some to wonder: Was this lavish spender really a conservative? Bush’s champions rushed in to explain.