Bill Clinton

Homeward Bound
March 03, 2003

Liberals are no strangers to foreign intervention. Democratic presidents took the United States into two world wars, as well as Korea and Vietnam; Bill Clinton himself sent American forces to Haiti, the Balkans, and Iraq. But, if there was a connection between liberalism at home and intervention abroad, it generally ran from the former to the latter. Liberals believed that by intervening abroad they were spreading or defending liberal values. The Clinton administration's 1996 National Security Strategy, for instance, was based on "enlarging ...

Force Full
March 03, 2003

It was a lost decade. A journalist friend of mine traveled with Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe in 1993 for one of his fruitless Balkan negotiations. When the official delegation stopped at Shannon Airport for refueling on the way home, Christopher, not generally sociable, surprised my friend by pulling up beside him at the bar. "What can I get you?" the burly bartender asked the secretary. Christopher responded, "I'd like an Irish coffee, please ... but hold the whiskey and make it decaf." When I think of the '90s, I think of Christopher's Irish coffee.

Hatchet Job
December 29, 2002

In the summer of 1999, Trent Lott cut what seemed like a fair good deal with his Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. For weeks, Democrats had been holding up the Senate's work on a number of appropriations bills--bills the GOP hoped would force Bill Clinton to make politically treacherous decisions about tax cuts and spending. So, in exchange for Daschle's promise to let the appropriations bills move forward, Lott allowed Democrats to bring up 20 amendments to a soon-to-be-debated HMO reform bill. Conservatives were apoplectic.

Need to Know
September 23, 2002

If the Bush administration’s preparations for war with Saddam Hussein were proceeding appropriately, the president would probably be curling up right now with something called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq. An NIE is a document pooling all the information on a particular country that U.S. intelligence services have collected from overheard phone calls, satellite photos, decrypted e-mails, defectors, paid informants, foreign intelligence services, diplomat tipsters, newspaper articles, and official speeches.

Need to Know
September 23, 2002

If the Bush administration's preparations for war with Saddam Hussein were proceeding appropriately, the president would probably be curling up right now with something called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq. An NIE is a document pooling all the information on a particular country that U.S. intelligence services have collected from overheard phone calls, satellite photos, decrypted e-mails, defectors, paid informants, foreign intelligence services, diplomat tipsters, newspaper articles, and official speeches.

Son Shine
September 09, 2002

I am not one of those who believes democracy will come soon either to Iraq or to the entity to be called Palestine (when—and if—the Palestinians finally grasp that they cannot have both a state and a warrant to kill Israelis). There is no reason to believe either of these polities will succeed in the democratic experiment that has failed or, to be more precise, has not been seriously tried in the Arab world. But there are improvements short of democracy: police who are not routinely brutal, government that isn't routinely corrupt, and courts that are not satraps of politics.

Personal Best
September 09, 2002

Americans want to believe September 11 changed George W. Bush. They want to believe it because they want to believe September 11 changed them. And because the president supposedly personifies the national character, Americans project onto Bush the transformation they wish to see in themselves: He has become more serious, less self-interested; he has found his purpose. In the public narrative, September 11 has become a kind of successor to Bush's famous decision to stop drinking. He saw danger, he rose to the challenge, and he put away childish, frivolous things. But it's not true.

Idiot Time
July 08, 2002

Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich by Kevin Phillips (Broadway Books, 432 pp., $29.95) Stupid White Men ... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! by Michael Moore (ReganBooks, 304 pp., $24.95) I. As Lord Bryce noted in 1888 in The American Commonwealth, the American way of choosing presidents rarely produces politicians of quality. Subsequent events vindicated his point: in the half-century after his book appeared, Americans elected to the presidency such undistinguished men as William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G.

Invisible Man
July 01, 2002

Uh oh. I am standing in the doorway of a hotel banquet hall, searching the room for Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential hopeful. He's here to attend a local Greek Independence Day celebration--to give a few remarks, to march in a parade, and, perhaps, to make some political contacts that might help in the 2004 New Hampshire primary. It's an informal gathering, and when I called Dean's press secretary a few days ago, she suggested I just show up as the luncheon was winding down and pull him aside to chat.

Odd Job
June 24, 2002

In its first week of hearings, the joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee investigating September 11 chose not to call CIA Director George Tenet to testify. Which is a good thing, since Tenet wasn't in the country. As the committee began its inquiry into the greatest intelligence failure in modern American history, the man responsible for making sure it doesn't happen again was doing his other job.

Pages