Former President Bill Clinton, the AP’s Andrew DeMillo reports, “on Saturday offered a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama against what he called the same anti-government stances he faced during his campaign and two terms in office“:
“Underlying those challenges is the same old debate about whether government is the problem or whether we need smart government and a changing economy working together to create the opportunities of tomorrow,” Clinton told the crowd, which was flooded with old campaign signs for him or his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lost to Obama in 2008’s Democratic nominating contest.
. . . .
“There’s not a single example on our planet, not one, where an anti-government strategy has produced a vibrant economy with strong and broad-based growth and prosperity,” Clinton said.
Yeah, but Mr. Clinton, as I recall, you compromised with those anti-government forces in the 104th and 105th Congresses. As a result, growth in government slowed as the economy prospered. The federal government consumed a far smaller percentage of the GDP than it does today. Indeed, federal spending in the 1990a, as a percentage of GDP, was slightly lower than it was in the 1970s.
And what, pray tell, fell between the 1990s and the 1970s.
UPDATE: Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward critiques historian Sean Wilentz’s recent article in The New Republic, “20 Years Later: How Bill Clinton Saved Liberalism from Itself”. Here, he addresses a point similar to the one I make above:
Wilentz left unsaid one key part of Clinton’s success that Podhoretz noted prominently: Clinton’s adaptation to the Republican landslide of 1994, which was a direct rebuke to Clinton’s McGovernite ways his first two years in office. Wilentz’s silence on Obama’s lack of adaptation to the 2010 election result is telling.