A national disgrace: Clinton’s real legacy, a disaster America is still paying for

Jeffrey T. Kuhner

Former President Bill Clinton has emerged as a hero to many Americans, especially liberals. He has become a Democratic icon, a deeply beloved figure. This is why he was tapped to give the nomination speech for President Obama’s re-election at the Democratic National Convention.

The delegates in Charlotte loved it. The reason is simple: His presence — and words — reminded everyone of better days. The 1990s were fat years; an age of supposed peace and prosperity. Mr. Clinton gave Mr. Obama his stamp of approval. Bubba assured America that a second Obama term would deliver economic recovery and a revived middle class — akin to a return to the 1990s.

President Barack Obama stands with former President Bill Clinton after Clinton's address to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 5. /AP/Carolyn Kaster

As usual, he was peddling snake oil. His speech was vintage Clinton: dishonest, self-indulgent, cynical, wonky, pretentious and disconnected from reality. The fact is the 1990s were a disastrous decade that America is still paying for. It was not just a holiday from history — dominated by an orgy of consumer spending and the coarsening of our culture — but something more pernicious: The squandering of our power and wealth. Mr. Clinton did not preside over America’s boom; rather, he played a pivotal role in triggering our national decline.

Under his watch, the forces of radical Islam gathered steam — and went largely unopposed. The Taliban tightened their grip over Afghanistan. Pakistan attained the Muslim world’s first nuclear bomb. Iran embarked upon its nuclear program. Somalia became a jihadist haven. Mr. Clinton’s military interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo enabled Islamists to infiltrate the Balkans. Al Qaeda declared war on the United States. The 1993 World Trade Center attacks, the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, and the 2000 suicide assault on the USS Cole — Islamic terrorists were able to strike American targets with near impunity. Sudan’s government even offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to Washington. Mr. Clinton’s response: no thanks. Instead of confronting the rise of Islamofascism, he ignored it. The September 11, 2001, terrorist atrocities were a direct result of Mr. Clinton’s negligent, reckless policies.

Moreover, he actively aided and abetted China’s march to global dominance. His administration transferred vital missile and nuclear technology to Beijing in exchange for illegal campaign contributions. China’s vassal state, North Korea, was allowed — through the Agreed Framework Agreement — to buy the time needed to eventually become a nuclear rogue nation. His administration solidified trade ties with Beijing, encouraging China’s communists to embark upon economic liberalization combined with one-party rule. America’s market was flooded with cheap and shabby Chinese goods. Economic nationalism was sacrificed at the altar of globalization.

The Clinton administration accelerated the dissolution of America’s sovereignty and manufacturing base. Mr. Clinton — along with congressional Republicans — embraced an agenda of open borders and free trade. NAFTA, GATT and the WTO — Mr. Clinton abandoned Middle America in favor of global trade deals which empowered transnational corporate behemoths to outsource production to Third World countries while still having unhindered access to our vast domestic market. The results were predictable — and devastating: the gradual de-industrialization of America, leading to the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs. The middle and working classes have never recovered. Also, under Mr. Clinton, illegal immigration intensified. Our southern border — fueled by unrestricted trade with Mexico — became porous and undefended. Globalization imported millions of cheap workers (and votes) that benefited liberal Democrats and big business Republicans.

Much has been made about the roaring economy and budget surpluses of the Clinton years. Yet, what is never mentioned is that growth only began to explode after the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. Balanced budgets, fiscal restraint, capital gains tax cuts and welfare reform — all of them were GOP initiatives essentially forced upon Mr. Clinton. For him to take credit is like Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev being praised for the Soviet Union’s collapse. Mr. Clinton did it grudgingly, resentfully and under the threat of electoral defeat.

Most importantly, however, the entire 1990s boom was based upon a fiction: that the high-tech bubble would last forever. It did not. The bubble eventually popped in late 2000, and with it came a major recession that wiped away the artificial surpluses. Instead of dealing with the key entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — driving America’s long-term debt crisis, he did nothing (except set up blue ribbon commissions). He also passed the Community Reinvestment Act and repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. The reason: to encourage — and pressure — commercial banks to make loans widely available to boost homeownership among lower-income citizens. The result was a surging but ramshackle housing market that finally imploded in 2008. The housing crisis fostered the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. The roots of our economic turmoil lie in Mr. Clinton’s disastrous policies. That he was supported by Republicans does not absolve him of his complicity.

Mr. Clinton was the sex president. Numerous women said he is a sexual predator. Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey alleged that he assaulted them; Juanita Broaddrick accused him of rape; and he engaged in sexual acts with Monica Lewinsky in the West Wing. He trashed the office of the presidency. He committed perjury, abuse of power and a systematic cover-up. He was a national disgrace. He presided over the most lawless, scandal-ridden and corrupt administration in modern memory. That an accused rapist could be celebrated at a convention devoted to painting Republicans as waging “a war on women” reveals the Democrats’ utter depravity and hypocrisy.

Mr. Clinton is an American Caligula, an amoral hedonist who treated his country the way he treated his women. It is only fitting that he endorsed Mr. Obama. After all, it takes one con man to vouch for another.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and host of “The Kuhner Report” on Boston’s WRKO 680-AM (www.wrko.com).