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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

By Simon Heffer – Telegraph UK – March 08, 2010

It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama’s regime, characterized now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president, has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.

The once mighty Detroit seems to be on the verge of being abandoned.

Despite the efforts of some sections of opinion to talk the place up, America is mired in unhappiness, all the worse for the height from which Obamania has fallen. The economy remains troublesome. There is growth – a good last quarter suggested an annual rate of as high as six per cent, but that figure is probably not reliable – and the latest unemployment figures, last Friday, showed a leveling off. Yet 15 million Americans, or 9.7 per cent of the workforce, have no job. Many millions more are reduced to working part-time. Whole areas of the country, notably in the north and on the eastern seaboard, are industrial wastelands. The once mighty motor city of Detroit appears slowly to be being abandoned, becoming a Jurassic Park of the mid-20th century; unemployment among black people in Mr. Obama’s own city of Chicago is estimated at between 20 and 25 per cent. One senior black politician – a Democrat and a supporter of the President – told me of the wrath in his community that a black president appeared to be unable to solve the economic problem among his own people. Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as their principal commercial activity: The Wire is only just fictional.

Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed a jobs Bill, costing $15 billion, which would give tax breaks to firms hiring new staff and, through state sponsorship of construction projects, create thousands of jobs too. The Senate is trying to approve a Bill that would provide a further $150 billion of tax incentives to employers. Yet there is a sense of desperation in the Administration, a sense that nothing can be as efficacious at the moment as a sticking plaster. Edward B Montgomery, deputy labor secretary in the Clinton administration, now spends his time on day trips to decaying towns that used to have a car industry, not so much advising them on how to do something else as facilitating those communities’ access to federal funds. For a land without a welfare state, America starts to do an effective impersonation of a country with one. This massive state spending gives rise to accusations by Republicans, and people too angry even to be Republicans, that America is now controlled by “Leftists” and being turned into a socialist state.

“Obama’s big problem,” a senior Democrat said, “is that four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN.” The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media. With little rest, it pours out rage 24 hours a day: its message is of the construction of the socialist state, the hijacking of America by “progressives” who now dominate institutions, the indoctrination of children, the undermining of religion and the expropriation of public money for these nefarious projects. The public loves it, and it is manifestly stirring up political activism against Mr. Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party who are not deemed conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganizing Right is half as effective in its assault on the President as some of Mr. Obama’s own party are.

Mr. Obama benefited in his campaign from an idiotic level of idolatry, in which most of the media participated with an astonishing suspension of cynicism. The sound of the squealing of brakes is now audible all over the American press; but the attack is being directed not at the leader himself, but at those around him. There was much unconditional love a year or so ago of Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s Chief of Staff; oleaginous profiles of this Chicago political hack, a veteran of that unlovely team that polluted the Clinton White House, appeared in otherwise respectable journals, praising the combination of his religious devotion, his family-man image, his ruthless operating technique and his command of the vocabulary of profanity. Now, supporters of the President are blaming Mr Emanuel for the failure of the Obama project, not least for his inability to construct a deal on health care.

This went down badly with friends of Mr Emanuel, notably with Mr. Emanuel himself. His partisans, apparently taking dictation from him, have filled newspaper columns and blogs with uplifting accounts of the Wonder of Rahm: as one of them put it, “Emanuel is the only person preventing Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter”. They attack other Obama “sycophants”, such as David Axelrod, his campaign guru, and Valerie Jarret, a long-time friend of Mrs. Obama and a fixer from the office of Mayor Daley of Chicago who now manages – or tries to manage – the President’s image. These “sycophants” have, they argue, tried to keep the President above politics, letting Congress run away with the agenda, and gainsaying Mr. Emanuel’s advice to Mr. Obama to get tough with his internal opponents. This naive act of manipulation has brought its own counter-counterattack, with an anti-Emanuel pundit drawing a comparison with the UK’s own Prime Minister and ridiculing the idea that Mr. Obama should start bullying people too.

The root of the problem seems to be the management of expectations. The magnificent campaign created the notion that Mr. Obama could walk on water. Oddly enough, he can’t. That was more Mr. Axelrod’s fault than Mr. Emanuel’s. And, to be fair to Mr. Emanuel, any advice he has been giving the President to impose his will on Congress is probably well founded. The $783 billion stimulus package of a year ago was used to further the re-election prospects of many congressmen, not to do good for the country. America’s politics remain corrupt, populated by nonentities whose main concern once elected is to stay elected; it seems to be the same the whole world over. Even this self-interested use of the stimulus package appears to have failed, however. Every day, it seems, another Democrat congressman announces that he will not be fighting the mid-term elections scheduled for November 2. The health care Bill, apparently so humane in intent, is being “scrubbed” (to use the terminology of one Republican) by its opponents, to the joy of millions of middle Americans who see it as a means to waste more public money and entrench socialism. For the moment, this is a country vibrant with anger.

A thrashing of the Democrats in the mid-terms would not necessarily be the beginning of the end for Mr. Obama: Bill Clinton was re-elected two years after the Republicans swept the House and the Senate in November 1994. But Mr. Clinton was an operator in a way Mr. Obama patently is not. His lack of experience, his dependence on rhetoric rather than action, his disconnection from the lives of many millions of Americans all handicap him heavily. It is not about whose advice he is taking: it is about him grasping what is wrong with America, and finding the will to put it right. That wasted first year, however, is another boulder hanging from his neck: what is wrong needs time to put right. The country’s multi-trillion dollar debt is barely being addressed; and a country engaged in costly foreign wars has a President who seems obsessed with anything but foreign policy – as a disregarded Britain is beginning to realize.

There are lessons from the stumbling of Mr. Obama for our own country as we approach a general election. Vacuous promises of change are hostages to fortune if they cannot be delivered upon to improve the living conditions of a people. The slickness of campaigning that comes from a combination of heavy funding and public relations expertise does not inevitably translate into an ability to govern. There is no point in a nation’s having the audacity of hope unless it also has the sophistication and the will to turn it into action. As things stand, Barack Obama and America under his leadership do not.

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You’d think the Obama administration is busy enough controlling the banks, insurance companies and automakers, but thanks to whistleblowers at the Department of the Interior, we now learn they’re planning to increase their control over energy-rich land in the West.

A secret administration memo has surfaced revealing plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico, halting job- creating activities like ranching, forestry, mining and energy development. Worse, this land grab would dry up tax revenue that’s essential for funding schools, firehouses and community centers.

President Obama could enact the plans in this memo with just the stroke of a pen, without any input from the communities affected by it.

At a time when our national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, it is unbelievable anyone would be looking to stop job-creating energy enterprises, yet that’s exactly what’s happening.

The document lists 14 properties that, according to the document, “might be good candidates” for Mr. Obama to nab through presidential proclamation. Apparently, Washington bureaucrats believe it’s more important to preserve grass and rocks for birdwatchers and backpackers than to keep these local economies thriving.

Administration officials claim the document is merely the product of a brainstorming session, but anyone who reads this memo can see that it is a wish list for the environmentalist left. It discusses, in detail, what kinds of animal populations would benefit from limiting human activity in those areas.

The 21-page document, marked “Internal Draft-NOT FOR RELEASE,” names 14 different lands Mr. Obama could completely close for development by unilaterally designating them as “monuments” under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

It says all kinds of animals would be better off by doing so, like the coyotes, badgers, grouse, chickens and lizards. But giving the chickens more room to roost is no reason for the government to override states’ rights.

Rep. Robert Bishop, Utah Republican, made the memo public because he didn’t want another unilateral land grab by the White House, like what happened under former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Using the Antiquities Act, President Carter locked up more land than any other president had before him, taking more than 50 million acres in Alaska despite strong opposition from the state.

President Clinton used the authority 22 times to prohibit hunting, recreational vehicles, mining, forestry and even grazing in 5.9 million acres scattered around the country. The law allowed him to single-handedly create 19 new national monuments and expand three others without consulting anyone.

One of the monuments President Clinton created was the Grande Staircase-Escalante in Utah, where 135,000 acres of land were leased for oil and gas and about 65,000 barrels of oil were produced each year from five active wells. But, President Clinton put an end to developing those resources.

President Obama could do the same in other energy-rich places unless Congress takes action. At least 13.5 million acres are already on his Department of Interior’s real estate shopping list.

This includes a 58,000-acre area in New Mexico. The memo said this should be done so the lesser prairie chicken and the sand dune lizard will be better protected. Are these animals going extinct? No. The bureaucrats wrote that the land should be locked up to “avoid the necessity of listing either of these species as threatened or endangered.”

In Nevada, the Obama administration might make another monument in the Heart of the Great Basin because it, supposedly, is a “center of climate change scientific research.”

In Colorado, the government is considering designating the Vermillion Basin as a monument because it is “currently under the threat of oil and gas development.”

Americans should be wary of any plans a president has to seize land from the states without their consent. Any new plans to take away states’ freedom to use land as they see fit must be stopped.

That’s why I sponsored an amendment to block Mr. Obama from declaring any of the 14 lands listed in the memo as “monuments.” Unfortunately, the Senate, led by Democrats, rejected it on Thursday evening by a vote of 58-38.

It was particularly disappointing that the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, voted against the amendment. The government owns more than 80 percent of the land in Nevada and the unemployment rate there is 12.8 percent. Surely it would help job prospects if more land were open for business.

This is a nationwide problem. The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation’s total land.

Federal bureaucrats shouldn’t be wasting time thinking up ways to acquire more, especially in the middle of a recession. Taking the nation’s resources offline will stifle job creation and dry up tax revenues.

If anything, the government should be selling land off, not locking more up. By voting against my amendment, the Democrats tacitly endorsed Mr. Obama’s secret plan to close off millions more acres to commerce.

If enacted, the plan would mean fewer jobs for Americans.

The Democratic Congress refused to stop it, but one sure way Americans could help block it is if they decide some Democrats should lose their jobs on November.


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Obama throws gays under the bus

President Barack Obama promised gay and lesbian voters he would repeal a law banning their open service in the military, would do away with a federal marriage law and would champion their causes from the White House. In his first five months, he’s taken incremental steps that have little real effect and left some people feeling betrayed.But he’s still willing to take money from a reliably Democratic constituency—he was sending Vice President Joe Biden to a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Thursday evening with gay and lesbian donors.

Some gay donors called for a boycott after Obama’s Justice Department in a court filing, compared gay marriages to incest.

“I don’t think it’s an appropriate time to be raising money. No one is happy now,” said Richard Socarides who advised former President Bill Clinton on gay issues and did not plan to attend the event. “On gay rights, the country is already in the age of Obama, but he’s governing from the Clinton era.”

Obama issued a presidential memorandum that expands some federal benefits to same-sex partners, but not health benefits or pension guarantees. He has allowed State Department employees to include their same-sex partners in certain embassy programs already available to opposite-sex spouses.

But that remains far short of his campaign rhetoric.

“At its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans,” Obama said a 2007 statement on gay issues. “It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”

Since then, he publicly has committed himself to repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they don’t disclose their sexual orientation or act on it. On Jan. 9, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs answered “yes” when asked whether the administration would end the policy. But as president, Obama hasn’t taken any concrete steps urging Congress to rescind the Clinton-era policy that even some former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have described as flawed.

Obama pledged during the campaign to work for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits how state, local and federal bodies can recognize partnerships and determine benefits.

In a letter sent to gay-rights groups in February 2008, the president said “I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate.”

But lawyers in his administration defended the law in a court brief. White House aides said they were only doing their jobs to back a law that is on the books.

At the time, even Democrats in his party criticized the move.

“I was profoundly disappointed by this action, particularly coming from this administration,” said Rep.Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay nonincumbent to win election to Congress.

Even so, Baldwin and other high-profile gay and lesbians and their allies still planned to attend Biden’s fundraiser. The minimum donation was $1,000 and some tickets went as high as $30,400. The event was expected to draw 160 people, although the DNC was not releasing estimates on how much money the event would net, especially given some high-profile defections.

Human Rights Campaign grass-roots chief Marty Rouse Gay and Lesbians Advocates and Defenders projects director  Mary Bonauto and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe all withdrew. Several other high-profile activists also did not intend to participate, hoping to pressure Obama to make good on his promises now.

The White House plans an East Room reception on Monday for gay and lesbian advocates to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Greenwich Village demonstrations at the Stonewall Tavern in New York City. The demonstrations are viewed as the start of the modern gay rights movement.

“Unless the president on Monday articulates a strong action plan, and is willing to do it with cameras rolling, it is going to go from bad to worse,” said Socarides, the Clinton adviser.

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In the state of Indiana, a person convicted of armed robbery will serve about six years in prison; someone convicted of rape will serve about eight; and a convicted murderer can expect to spend about twenty-five years behind bars. These figures are actually higher than the national average: eleven years and four months in prison is the typical punishment for an American found guilty of murder unless you’re Ted Kennedy or a rock star.  The prison terms given by Indiana judges tend to be long, but with good behavior, an inmate will serve no more than half the nominal sentence. Those facts are worth keeping in mind when considering the case of Mark Young.

At the age of thirty-eight, Young was arrested and his Indianapolis home for brokering the sale of seven hundred pounds of marijuana grown on a farm in nearby Morgan County. Young was tried and convicted under federal law. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking. He had no history of violent crime. Young’s role in the illegal transaction had been that of a middleman – he never distributed the drugs; he simply introduced two people hoping to sell a large amount of marijuana to three people wishing to buy it. The offense occurred a year and a half before his arrest. No confiscated marijuana, money, or physical evidence of any kind linked Young to the crime. He was convicted solely on the testimony of co-conspirators who were now cooperating with the government.

On February 8, 1992, Mark Young was sentenced by Judge Sarah Evans Barker to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

The DEA Federal Drug Scheduling Guidelines ranks drugs from Schedule I – Schedule V. Schedule I includes Marijuana, PCP, LSD, Heroin, Quaaludes, Schedule II includes  Amphetamines, Cocaine, Codeine, Morphine, Methadone, Opium, Schedule III includes Marinol, Anabolic Steroids, Barbiturates, Phenobarbital, Schedule IV includes Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Ambien, Schedule V includes Robitussin A-C and Lomotil.

Marijuana is part of American culture. Over 65 million Americas use it either occasionally or regularly. However, social acceptance has not led to a reduction for its use. Nearly 800,000 users get arrested each year. In the last thirty years, over 10 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. In some cases, people are serving up to thirty years for simple possession.

There are several reasons why marijuana remains illegal. Most importantly, it is a political football kicked around by a number of self-serving groups. Some of these groups perceive marijuana as a threat to the national fabric, tearing families apart and causing us to abandon our traditional values. Parents have always expressed these concerns, but they are not legitimate areas of legislation.

There are groups that have more practical reasons for keeping marijuana illegal. The most powerful of these are the combined law-enforcement-judiciary-penal systems. This group sees the elimination of marijuana laws as a threat to their jobs.

Another interest group includes scientists whose marijuana research is funded by the government. If marijuana were legalized, these researchers would lose millions of dollars in grants intended to prove the deleterious effects of the herb. Recently, many of these same researchers have changed their opinions as they see development opportunities and hard evidence supporting marijuana’s medical uses.

Two other related and very influential groups are the liquor lobby and pharmaceutical companies, whose spending is clouded in secrecy. Marijuana legalization would cut deeply into their profits by making available a competing product that can be produced with relative ease by any one with access to a plot of land. The drug companies what control, rather than just a ban, for they know the medicinal benefits of marijuana. They have attempted to substitute synthetic derivatives (Marinol for example) for the raw herb, because the raw herb cannot be patented, meaning they can’t make money from it.

Every year, thousands of marijuana cases are prosecuted for political reasons. Politicians use the marijuana issue to scare the voters. Marijuana prohibition has even reached presidential politics. Clinton swore that he “smoked but didn’t inhale.”

Anti-legalization groups argue that if marijuana were legalized, there would be no way to regulate its use by or sales to minors. This is an absurd argument. Society has a better chance of controlling behavior using civil regulation than banning it and removing it from regulatory control. In addition, opponents cite marijuana’s supposed threat to health. They postulate that if it is harmful, then it should remain illegal. Although the scientific community is divided over whether the herb does have negative health effects, opponents maintain that until absolute certainty of its benign nature is established, marijuana should be banned. They don’t ask, is the cure worse than the problem?

Many people are opposed to legalization simply because the perceive users as undesirable: minorities, deviants, and other unwholesome types. Law-enforcement officials seem to use marijuana laws as a means of selective oppression. Today these laws are often used in the same way that vagrancy laws were used to clean up the streets – until they were found to be unconstitutional.

The damage to the physical and mental health of millions of Americas as a result of arrest, incarceration, loss of property and humiliation are far more serious than any medical damage ever reported from the use of marijuana. THe dangers for incarceration, especially violence and rape, have been well documented. Only the most virulent dogmatist could possibly believe that smoking a joint is more harmful than the terrors and heartbreak that are routine in prison life.

Congressmen Jim Webb (D-VA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), along with fifteen co-sponsors, have introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to critically evaluate America’s drugs and prisons policies.

The bill, Senate Bill 714, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As introduced, the proposal would establish a blue-ribbon commission to “undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system; make findings related to current Federal and State criminal justice policies and practices; and make reform recommendations for the President, Congress and State governments to improve public safety, cost-effectiveness, overall prison administration, and fairness in the implementation for the Nation’s criminal justice system.”

Specifically, the Commission will examine, “current drug policy and its impact on incarceration, crime and violence, sentencing, and reentry programs, [including] an analysis of the general availability of drugs in our society, the impact and effectiveness of current policies on reducing that availability and on the incidence of crime, and in the case of criminal offenders, the availability of drug treatment programs before, during, and after incarceration.”

Writing in Parade Magazine, Sen. Webb stated: “Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons … Justice statistics … show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses.”

“America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. It’s irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness … It is incumbent on our national leadership to find a way to fix our prison system.”

Senate Bill 714 seeks to re-evaluate America’s multi-decade long “do drugs, do time” mentality. Please take time today to urge your senator to support Senate Bill 714.  If your senator sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then it is especially important that he or she hears from you. For your convenience, a prewritten letter will be emailed to your member of Congress when you visit here:

After you have written your senator, please take a moment to write or call Sen. Webb and thank him for raising this important issue. You may contact him here.

Thanks to Norml, Ed Rosenthal (Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized) and Eric Schlosser (Refer Madness).

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Some people think they have seen this campaign movie before. The one with the big fuss about the flag. The one with the attacks on a man’s patriotism. The one where the candidate who was being attacked didn’t fight back. The one where the prey was a cerebral guy with an outspoken wife. The one where the Yale graduate accused the Harvard graduate of being an elitist. The one where the Democrats relinquished a huge lead. The one that happened in 1988.

The fashion today is to look in the rearview mirror of the 2008 presidential campaign and to see the 1988 campaign — to see 1988 gaining on us, catching up with us, moving into the passing lane right beside us. Maybe my mirror is tilted at a different angle — maybe I am not looking in the mirror at all, and just relying on memory as someone who was there, every mile of the way — but I don’t see it that way.

I know I’m the guy who specializes in the historical look, but there is a difference between looking back and seeing history, and looking ahead and seeing history repeating itself.

The campaign of 1988 offered one lesson; we’ll get to it in a minute, and you will see that no one learned it quite so well as former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts (Harvard Law ’60), the Democratic presidential nominee that year. But Campaign 1988 doesn’t offer a road map for Campaign 2008, and it tells us little that’s important about Barack Obama (Harvard Law ’91) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Yale Law ’73).

That’s because all campaigns are different. They’re peopled with different candidates, they have different rhythms, they have different backdrops, they have different production values. Plus they have different technologies and standards.

There was a 24-hour news cycle in 1988 only because some of the slugs out on the campaign trail seemed to work all 24 hours. Armed with telephone credit cards that they used at pay phones, they wrote on primitive typing machines whose “screens” showed four lines of type. (When The Wall Street Journal bought a reporter one that held eight lines, the others on the campaign trail stared at it as if it were some exotic prop from a sci-fi film. Ironic, because most of them were more Raymond Chandler than Ray Bradbury, and still are.) So we’ve established that 1988 occurred in the dark ages, though I am hard-pressed to believe that a world without the crazy-eyed, face-lifted howlers on cable was somehow more primitive than the world in which politics is prosecuted today. But so much more was different.

In 1988, the country was at peace. In 2008, it is fighting two wars. In 1988, the Soviet Union was still the anchor of the Communist bloc. In 2008, even the Communists don’t practice communism. In 1988, Vietnam was still a major American preoccupation (“Good Morning, Vietnam” had just come out) and Libya was considered perhaps the world’s greatest terrorist threat (late that year Libya would be accused of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over southern Scotland). In 2008, both Vietnam and Libya are members of the United Nations Security Council.

There is more. In 1988, America enjoyed relative prosperity. In 2008, the country is debating how long the recession will last. In 1988, a vice president (George H.W. Bush, Yale ’48) was attempting to succeed a popular president. In 2008, the vice president isn’t running for anything and the president isn’t popular.

These elections have nothing in common, except perhaps that Mr. Obama is being accused — by whom exactly it is difficult to determine — of lacking the fiery patriotism required to occupy the Oval Office.

But that was no peculiarity of 1988. It happened also in 1992 (when Bill Clinton, who clearly maneuvered to avoid the draft, was the Democratic nominee) and in 2004 (when the phrase “Swift Boat” was transformed from a noun into a verb, meaning, roughly: to trash a decorated naval officer’s record, albeit correctly so).

The 1988 accusations revolved around the Pledge of Allegiance, and Dukakis’ veto of legislation in 1977 that would have required Massachusetts teachers to lead pupils, who in 13 years in Massachusetts public schools engaged in this ritual every day, to recite the pledge. More than two years later, while suffering from an inoperable brain tumor that led to his death at 40, Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater apologized to Mr. Dukakis for the tactics he used in the 1988 campaign.

“It doesn’t make any difference whether I’m the candidate, or it’s Bill Clinton or John Kerry,” Mr. Dukakis said in a telephone conversation last week. “The opposition will go after us on national security. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Mr. Dukakis — who served for 16 months with the Army in Korea in the mid-1950s and who often spoke of his pride in America as a land of opportunity, particularly for immigrants — knows there are no do-overs in national politics. But he has thought a lot about what he should have said, and when he should have said it:

“If I had to do it over again, I’d have asked my mother to stand up in the audience during that debate with George Bush and I’d have said: ‘You tell the first Greek-American woman in United States history to go away to college that she raised an unpatriotic son.'”

Just as there are no do-overs for Dukakis, there are no do-overs for 1988, the year the Soviets began withdrawing from Afghanistan, Benazir Bhutto became prime minister of Pakistan, and the Cubs began playing night games at Wrigley Field. The year 1988 is separated from 2008 by the same number of years that separated the Munich Agreement, the high-water mark of pre-World War II appeasement, from the launch of Explorer 1, the first American satellite in space. It was a very long time ago.

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Well, it looks like it’s the end of the road for Hillary. Time for her to pack up her pantsuits and go back to … wherever it is she’s pretending to be living these days. Now we just have to get rid of the other two. Perhaps if (fill in the blank) endorses Obama…

This week, Bill Clinton lost his second presidential election for a protege.

Ronald Reagan was so popular, he not only won a 49-state landslide re-election for himself, but he also won a symbolic third term for his boob of a vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush (who immediately blew it by breaking his own “no new taxes” pledge).

By contrast, in addition to not being able to get half the country to vote for him in two tries, Clinton’s connection to any other presidential candidate spells utter doom. Both his vice president and his wife have been defeated in elections they should have won, but lost because of their unfortunate association with him. The country has spoken. It wants to be rid of the Clintons.

The reason two elections in recent history — the 2000 presidential election and the 2008 Democratic primary — were razor-close is that in both cases there was some strange, foreboding, otherworldly force dragging down the presumptive winner.

Clinton‘s vice president, Al Gore, lost an election that should have been his in a walk. In fact, he was the first incumbent president or vice president in 100 years to lose an election in peacetime with a good economy. Mind you, that was before we even knew that Gore was a deranged conspiracy theorist who believes the Earth is in serious peril from cow flatulence.

What was the mystery factor to explain such a historic loss?

The media’s pollsters may have lied to the public about Clinton’s vaunted popularity, but Gore’s pollsters got paid not to lie to him. And they told Gore the truth: Clinton was killing him.

After the election, Gore pollster — and erstwhile Clinton pollster — Stanley Greenberg told Vanity Fair magazine that if Clinton had helped, he said he would have “had Bill Clinton carry Al Gore around on his back.” (This was when one man could still actually carry Al Gore on his back.) But research showed that whenever Clinton was mentioned, Gore’s numbers went down faster than — oh, never mind.

Steve Rosenthal, political director of the AFL-CIO, also blamed Clinton for Gore’s loss, saying polls showed that voters who cared about character voted for Bush. (I know, I know. Are there actually people who care about character and vote Democrat? Yes, apparently they exist.)

Poor Gore did everything he could to distance himself from Clinton, publicly criticizing Clinton’s sexual exploits with an intern, refusing to allow Clinton to campaign with him and taking as his vice president Joe Lieberman — the first Democratic senator to scathingly denounce Clinton’s antics with Lewinsky from the Senate floor.

But voters couldn’t forget Gore’s boss, the purple-faced lecher.

As election predictors go, the Dow Jones has been remarkably accurate. If the Dow goes up from the end of July to the end of October, the incumbent president or vice president wins; if it goes down, the incumbent loses. It has been wrong only four times since the Dow was created in 1896.

Thus, on Nov. 1, 2000, an article in The New York Times began: “The verdict of the Dow Jones industrial average is in, and it says Al Gore is headed for the White House.”

And yet Gore lost. It was only the third time in more than a century that the Dow went up in the three months before the election and the incumbent lost. The two other times were: (1) Herbert Hoover in the middle of the Great Depression, and (2) Hubert Humphrey in the middle of the Vietnam War. (The only time the Dow went down and the incumbent won anyway was for popular Dwight Eisenhower.)

So we have documented proof: Americans rank Bill Clinton with national misfortunes on the order of the Great Depression and the Vietnam War. (This, of course, is an overreaction: The Great Depression wasn’t that bad.)

And now Bill Clinton has wrecked Hillary’s campaign, too. He’s like the creepy guy who graduated last year but still hangs around the high school cafeteria chatting up sophomores.

In a Time magazine poll taken earlier this year, more than twice as many voters said Bill Clinton’s involvement in Hillary’s campaign made them less likely to vote for her as said they were more likely to vote for her. (Some even said that “having Bill Clinton around makes me less likely to vote for What’s-Her-Name.” One-third of the respondents were upset Bill didn’t call the next day, like he promised.)

So before remembering that we are now left with two dangerous choices for president — a young liberal who is friendly with terrorists or an old liberal who is friendly with Teddy Kennedy — take a moment to revel in the fact that our long national nightmare is over. It turns out getting rid of the Clintons was the change we’ve been waiting for.

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May 9, 1999, New York Times

Stepping up the Clinton Administration’s campaign against gun violence, Hillary Rodham Clinton used an emotional White House ceremony today to call on Americans to press Congress to ”buck the gun lobby” and pass several gun control measures.

Today’s event, pegged to Mother’s Day, which is Sunday, was held in the formal East Room of the White House and featured three parents of children killed or wounded by gunfire. They included Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed last month in the shooting rampage in Littleton, Colo. His story of waiting for word about his son’s fate brought Mrs. Clinton nearly to tears as she took the podium and gravely addressed an audience of other parents who had lost their children in shootings.

The Senate is to begin debate next week on a number of gun control measures, some of which mirror proposals offered recently by President Clinton. ”The senators need to hear from all of us,” Mrs. Clinton said. She urged voters ”to give them the encouragement to do what they know is right and to remind them that there are many, many millions of American voters and citizens who will stand behind political leaders who are brave enough to buck the gun lobby, wherever that may take us, so that they will vote for the measures that we know will save lives.”

Mrs. Clinton was as careful as her husband has been to say that there are many causes of violence and that parents need to take responsibility for their children’s behavior. But Mrs. Clinton, who is considering running for the Senate from New York, where gun control is popular, has also been more forceful than the President in directly taking on the powerful gun lobby in the aftermath of the Littleton killings.

In contrast with her remarks today, for example, the President, speaking at a fund-raiser in Houston Friday night, said that while he was pressing for more gun control laws, ”I hope we can avoid yet another big fight in Washington between the N.R.A. and others.” He has said in the past that the association’s campaign against certain lawmakers who supported his gun control measures had cost Democrats control of the House in 1994.

Still, a split between the National Rifle Association and ”others” — including its traditional allies — is looming. Spokesmen for the American Shooting Sports Council and the National Shooting Sports Council, which represent gun manufacturers, say they have agreed in principle to back five of President Clinton’s proposals to clamp down on access to guns, although they are waiting to see the exact language.

The five proposals would: raise the age limit for possessing a handgun to 21 from 18, while still allowing exemptions for hunting, employment and ranching; extend background checks to those who buy guns at gun shows, provided that the records are eventually expunged; ban juveniles who are convicted of violent felonies from ever owning a gun; prosecute parents if they recklessly or negligently allow a gun to fall into the hands of children who use it to commit a crime, and expand the Government’s gun tracing program, underway in 35 cities, to 75 cities.

The move signals a breach within the powerful firearms community over tactics as the manufacturers take steps to try to appease public officials and tamp down the trend among cities to sue gun makers to recover the medical and social costs of gun violence.

Such a split within the pro-gun community could isolate the rifle association and help gun opponents portray it as an extremist organization, although whether it undermines the association’s political hold on lawmakers remains to be seen. The White House seems to be trying to take advantage of that possible opening, scheduling a conference on violence for Monday and inviting the gun makers but not the high-profile officials of the rifle association.

The five proposals emerged from discussions last year between the gun industry and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The industry has been working with several of the mayors, notably Ed Rendell of Philadelphia, to try to show a good-faith effort to reduce youth access to firearms. So far, Philadelphia has held off from joining seven other cities in filing potentially expensive law suits against the gun manufacturers.

After the rampage in Littleton, the largest mass murder in an American school, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, called for a White House summit on youth violence. Robert A. Ricker, executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, wrote to Mr. Lieberman saying his group wanted to participate in such a summit and would support certain restrictions.

President Clinton then announced a package of anti-gun measures, many of which had been advanced by the mayors. In bits and pieces, Mr. Ricker and Robert Delfay, president of the National Shooting Sports Council, backed some of those proposals, although they, with the rifle association, still oppose two that the Administration considers vital — restricting handgun sales to one a month per person and reinstituting a waiting period before a gun can be bought.

The White House then set a summit for Monday on youth and violence. In preparation, Bruce Reed, Mr. Clinton’s domestic policy adviser, invited Mr. Ricker and Mr. Delfay to the White House, and they met for 90 minutes last Tuesday to discuss the legislative proposals. Also at the meeting was Paul Jannuzzo, general counsel for Glock Inc., the pistol maker.

”For purposes of the Monday meeting, we are concentrating on just those issues where we have been able to potentially agree,” Mr. Ricker said today.

Pointedly not invited to Monday’s seminar were the figures most identified with the National Rifle Association — Charlton Heston, the association’s president, and Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president. Instead, the White Hosue invited a member of the association’s board, Bill Brewster, a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and now a lobbyist in Washington. Mr. Reed described Mr. Brewster, who has gone duck hunting with Mr. Clinton, as ”an old friend of the President’s.”

The rifle association is planning its own event on Monday to discuss its legislative agenda. This consists primarily of calling for better enforcement of existing laws.

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