July 10, 2011

The Clinton myth

 Sam Smith

Filling some of the vast voids at the 2004 Democratic convention were repeated media references to Bill Clinton as the true savior of the Democratic Party. This myth has been one of the most destructive forces within the party. Here are some of the facts:

Bill Clinton got 43.9% of the vote in 1992, while Michael Dukakis - the victim of another myth as the purportedly worst possible sort of candidate - got 45%. True Clinton was up against Ross Perot who got 19% as well as Bush, but Clinton might well have lost were it not for Perot, in which case he would have joined Michael Dukakis in the hall of shame. Clinton won a majority in only two state-like entities: Arkansas and DC. In only 12 other states was he able to get ever 45%. Dukakis, meanwhile, got over 50% in 11 states and got over 45% in 12 others.

Here's what happened to the Democrats under Clinton, based on our latest figures:

GOP seats gained in House after Clinton became president: 48

GOP seats gained in Senate after Clinton became president: 8

GOP governorships gained after Clinton became president: 11

GOP state legislative seats gained since Clinton became president: 1,254 as of 1998

State legislatures taken over by GOP after Clinton became president: 9

Democrat officeholders who have become Republicans since Clinton became president: 439 as of 1998 Republican officeholders who became Democrats: 3

According to the 2000 exits polls:

60% of voters disapproved of Clinton as a person

59% -including some who approved of him - disliked him

68% said he would go down in the history books for his scandals rather than for his leadership

44% thought the Clinton scandals were important or somewhat important. (In contrast, only 28% thought Bush's drunk driving arrest was important or somewhat important)

18% said a reason for their vote was to oppose Clinton

15% of those who had voted for Clinton in 1996 voted for bush in 2000.

In short, Clinton was a far more negative factor to the Democrats in the 2000 race than was Nader. The Washington media, which coddled Clinton from the moment he started running, continued to propagate a myth about his utility that bares little ressemblance to the facts