Bill Clinton

Counting Heads
April 07, 2003

It’s dangerous to generalize about this war. America's attack on Iraq is moving so fast that basic assumptions about its course can flip in the course of one day. But, as of this writing, the war's conduct suggests at least one irony: This supposedly cold-blooded administration is making a remarkable, some might even say militarily dangerous, effort to spare Iraqi lives. Conservatives once attacked Bill Clinton for being too squeamish about civilian casualties. But compared with George W.

Regime Change
March 03, 2003

"Ideas have consequences," the conservative intellectual Richard Weaver wrote half a century ago. The truism comes to mind as another group of conservative intellectuals, this one guiding foreign policy inside the Bush administration, prepares to launch a war in the Middle East--not for oil or geopolitical advantage but on behalf of an idea. The idea is liberalism. According to President Bush, "Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause," and, as such, he routinely casts the impending war as an effort to bring democracy to a land that has known only dictatorship.

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.

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