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How is Bill Clinton's presidency perceived in the US today?

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antonz

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His Actual Presidency was average at best. He devastated the African-American Community with laws that even today continue to tear the fabric of those communities.
He benefitted from the Boom and Bust cycle America has developed into. His Presidency got to ride the Boom phase and he managed to get out of office just before the burst so another President would get the baggage of a bad economy.

I mean the only actual impact he had on the economy was regulation repeal which ensured when the bust cycle occurred it would be enormous.
 

benjipwns

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Thread is a bit overly negative in terms of what Americans actually think, as evidenced by Gotchaye's post.

Remember, Presidents are blamed for everything good or bad that happened during their terms whether they actually had a hand in it or could have changed anything. Clinton, like Reagan, oversaw a booming economy and period that increased America's position on the world stage. The wars were mostly kept out of sight, out of mind. This was a time when Presidential candidates debated the tough issues like the V-Chip and School Uniforms. Mark McGwire was hitting dingers. The GOP and Clinton checked each other, Clinton vetoed welfare reform multiple times before signing a less strong version, then took credit for it and declared the era of big government over. Triangulation dominated the day.

Another thing to remember, until Obama. Clinton was the only Democratic President re-elected since LBJ in 1964. (And one of only two Democratic Presidents from 1969-2009.) He also, was a boomer.
Are there any good current books on the Clinton presidency? Or is it still too soon for a decent historical perspective?
Basically everyone who served in the administration has already written their memoirs about the period including Bill and Hill. There's lots of contemporary works, I remember The Agenda as being interesting.

If you want retrospectives like the spate of Reagan books that came out in the wake of his death, I think that'll be some time, especially if Hillary manages to win. (One reason for this is that a lot of Presidential documents are time-locked. Reagan happened to die right when all his papers and such were becoming more completely available.)

There are, of course, plenty of openly biased works on the administration.

I would say most effective republican president ever.

[*] Bringing democracy to Yugoslavia
At the time the Republicans were opposed to this, even rejected a resolution supporting the Kosovo War in the House.

Clinton rather infamously deployed American troops more times to more locations than all the Cold War Presidents combined.
 

junpei

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They've all been men. Are you asking if we've had Presidents with secret homosexual affairs with former Presidents? I mean, maybe Jackson and John Quincy Adams hate-fucked each other once or twice, but other than that...
James Buchanan was the first gay president.
 

Iksenpets

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Clinton's place in history is weird. He was running a rearguard action against the popularity of Reagan-style conservatism. At the time, a large number of Democrats believed Reagan had successfully vanquished traditional liberalism and Clinton's job was just to salvage what could be salvaged and cede to the right what couldn't be. As a result you get things like welfare reform, crime control reform, don't ask don't tell, defense of marriage act, NAFTA, bank deregulation, etc. all coming out of a Democratic presidency. And then of course the death of liberalism turned out not to have happened when it surged back with Obama, and the modern left loathes a lot of those positions, while the right refuses to give Clinton any credit because of scandals and conspiracies and whatnot.

He still seems broadly popular among centrist types, who see most of his decisions as either correct, in the case of things like NAFTA, or politically necessary concessions to the right at the time with things like DOMA. I would say his popularity has declined in the past few years though, just because it became much, much harder to defend the bank deregulation stuff in light of the Great Recession. Welfare reform, which seemed to be performing well during the good years, completely failed in light of the recession, and the crime control measures look pretty bad when we can see in hindsight that crime was already beginning a historic collapse before the bill was even signed, and now that it's negative effects on black communities have become clear.
 

leroidys

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The crime laws
War on drugs
Free trade deals
Glass Steagall repeal

It's pretty hard to like his presidency as a liberal.
 
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Most have a fondness for his time in office, even if not for him.

The 90s were the go go 90s for most people, and wage increases, positive economic movement were felt all over.

But the Monica Lewinsky impeachment dogged him. That's probably not forgotten by most people who were of age. I don't know if they hold it against him necessarily, but he can't remove himself from that.

Pretty much this. I think almost anyone in office would have enjoyed the .com era of economic growth, so in some sense he gets the benefit of it without really having to do anything, other than make sure legislation didn't get passed that could have slowed things down or fucked things up.

Personally, the fact he was banging interns or whoever on the side means he's a dog, but really doesn't have anything to do with how he was as a president. The whole impeachment thing was ridiculously stupid. So he was banging an intern. That seems like a problem between him and Hillary, not whether he was handling his responsibilities to the nation.
 

PumpkinSpice

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The crime laws
War on drugs
Free trade deals
Glass Steagall repeal

It's pretty hard to like his presidency as a liberal.

It's pretty easy when you compare it the prior decades where 20/24 years were under Republican control.

"Not Liberal Enough" is a kind of extremist point of view that's really counterproductive.

The worst thing about Bill Clinton was his personal failings, especially his sex scandals, which distracted from any kind of policy objectives.
 

benjipwns

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President George H. W. Bush had already negotiated and signed NAFTA and tried to get it ratified and implemented before Clinton took office.

Clinton signed the bill that later passed the House and Senate to implement the terms of the treaty already signed. He (and Chretien) also added side agreements on the environment and labor to the treaty that weren't in it prior.

The whole impeachment thing was ridiculously stupid. So he was banging an intern. That seems like a problem between him and Hillary, not whether he was handling his responsibilities to the nation.
Let's not confuse the content with the action.

He was impeached for perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice in a criminal investigation. He had to give up his law license as penalty.

Lesser people (like Martha Stewart) have spent time in prison for what Clinton did.
 

Jonm1010

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The crime laws
War on drugs
Free trade deals
Glass Steagall repeal

It's pretty hard to like his presidency as a liberal.

Until you actually sit down and ask yourself a question few of his liberal detractors want to do, which is: "compared to what?"

There is of course value in judging the past through a prism of present day knowledge and values, but no person taking it serious should ignore taking into account contextual analysis of that period in history. Especially if you are gonna start taking an historical approach.
 

SRG01

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I really don't understand how free trade and NAFTA could be considered to be negatives for the US when it directly contributed to the country's economic growth.

Sure, free trade eliminated manufacturing and blue-collar jobs, but the writing was on the wall long before these deals were ever signed.
 

leroidys

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It's pretty easy when you compare it the prior decades where 20/24 years were under Republican control.

"Not Liberal Enough" is a kind of extremist point of view that's really counterproductive.

The worst thing about Bill Clinton was his personal failings, especially his sex scandals, which distracted from any kind of policy objectives.
Get out of here with this high horse bullshit. I evaluate his accomplishments and I'm all of a sudden a hardline ideologue? His policies were much more aggressively neoliberal than his Republican predecessor.
Until you actually sit down and ask yourself a question few of his liberal detractors want to do, which is: "compared to what?"

There is of course value in judging the past through a prism of present day knowledge and values, but no person taking it serious should ignore taking into account contextual analysis of that period in history. Especially if you are gonna start taking an historical approach.
Yes? The question was "how is he viewed today?"
I really don't understand how free trade and NAFTA could be considered to be negatives for the US when it directly contributed to the country's economic growth.

Sure, free trade eliminated manufacturing and blue-collar jobs, but the writing was on the wall long before these deals were ever signed.
So you don't understand but you understand (?)
 
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Something that no one really talks about is his foreign policy, even though it seems to have been largely successful. The interventions in the Balkans, the protection of Taiwan, the end of the IRA's terrorism and the near end to Israeli-Palestine issues prior to the assassination of Rabin are all pretty good wins. Rwanda is a dark stain but otherwise I feel Clinton was pretty successful at promoting peace and democracy.
 

johnny956

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Because they were terrified and whipped into a hysteria by the federal government because of a crack "epidemic" that didn't actually exist. Black men and women in positions of power were convinced that crack, not the fed, was what was destroying black communities. It wasn't until the dust settled that they realized they'd been duped.

We can't ignore historical context but we can examine the flaws in that context through the benefit of hindsight. Just because something seemed like the right decision at the time doesn't necessarily mean we're removed from judgement of it's repercussions. In fact I'd argue the inverse is true.


Crack epidemic didn't exist or you believe the government was involved with the crack epidemic? Because there absolutely was a crack epidemic in the 80's and early 90's. The numbers don't lie on that.
 

this_guy

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The economy in the 90s was pretty good and people look at Clinton favorably for that. Glass-Steagall was repealed under him and that destroyed the economy 9 years later, but Bush gets the blame.
 
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President George H. W. Bush had already negotiated and signed NAFTA and tried to get it ratified and implemented before Clinton took office.

Clinton signed the bill that later passed the House and Senate to implement the terms of the treaty already signed. He (and Chretien) also added side agreements on the environment and labor to the treaty that weren't in it prior.


Let's not confuse the content with the action.

He was impeached for perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice in a criminal investigation. He had to give up his law license as penalty.

Lesser people (like Martha Stewart) have spent time in prison for what Clinton did.

Ah. Thanks for the clarification. It was, however, lying about whether he'd slept with Lewinsky. Right?
 

Megalosaro

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As someone in the business of moving shit around, i am a fan of NAFTA and I can't wait for the TPP. Free Trade makes my job easier.
 

benjipwns

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Regarding the crime bill, Joe Biden wrote it. As Biden also boasted endlessly, he originally wrote the Patriot Act and part of its later enhanced provisions were passed overwhelmingly during the Clinton Administration. Biden wasn't a DLCer.

Clinton wasn't operating out of the mainstream when he signed that stuff. Any President was going to sign that in the wake of the LA Riots and Waco and OKC and so on. It was the fringe alt-right anti-government Republican kooks who caused the Oklahoma City Bombing who were running around saying things like this that Bill had to fight back against:


Something that no one really talks about is his foreign policy, even though it seems to have been largely successful. The interventions in the Balkans, the protection of Taiwan, the end of the IRA's terrorism and the near end to Israeli-Palestine issues prior to the assassination of Rabin are all pretty good wins. Rwanda is a dark stain but otherwise I feel Clinton was pretty successful at promoting peace and democracy.
Don't forget bombing Aspirin factories tho. ;)
 

Jonm1010

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Yes? The question was "how is he viewed today?"

Yes what? You are analyzing him from the perspective of an ideologue in modern times with the hindsight of history and ignoring numerous aspects of context one typically uses when evaluating persons of history.

So sure, you are giving the perspective of the short-sighted lazy liberal ideologues that attempt to view history through narrow prisms of ideology. Which does have its value to some extent. However that is neither a well rounded analysis nor does it answer the question of the OP that you are suddenly so concerned with.
 

AlphaDump

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Everyone loves him for the most part, but not for his policies and more for his persona (Slick Willy). However, republicans wanted his ass impeached at the time, and basically mastered the art of outrage and controversy as a campaign strategy.
 

Morrigan Stark

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Let's not confuse the content with the action.

He was impeached for perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice in a criminal investigation. He had to give up his law license as penalty.

Lesser people (like Martha Stewart) have spent time in prison for what Clinton did.
But wasn't he investigated for the affair to begin with? Which was really stupid as hell.
 

benjipwns

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IIRC, contemporary polling showed voters thought Clinton was as "liberal" as Dukakis but slightly less than Mondale.

I haven't looked into whether modern polling results show people think he was "too liberal", "too conservative" or "just right."

I know for a long time Reagan's Presidency was polling as "just right" after originally being a monster far to the right of Attila The Hun.

But wasn't he investigated for the affair to begin with? Which was really stupid as hell.
No, that was part of the Whitewater Investigation.

The Lewinsky stuff started because of the Paula Jones civil suit (Linda Tripp's tapes were to be used as evidence of Bill's behavior in that case, but Starr grabbed them first) which got folded into the single investigation. That originally led to them going after Lewinsky for perjury. Then Bill fucked up.

This is the same style of investigation that led to Scooter Libby getting convicted for lying about a non-crime that was no longer being investigated but was the original cause of the investigation. (The Plame leak.)
 
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IIRC, contemporary polling showed voters thought Clinton was as "liberal" as Dukakis but slightly less than Mondale.

I haven't looked into whether modern polling results show people think he was "too liberal", "too conservative" or "just right."

I know for a long time Reagan's Presidency was polling as "just right" after originally being a monster far to the right of Attila The Hun.
He was to the right of Dukakis on the important issues, especially crime/death penalty. He was also much better at damage control.
 

Ganzlinger

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As an outsider (Brazil), I always had the impression he was the best american president since the 90s. Perhaps it was the economic period.
 

gutter_trash

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President George H. W. Bush had already negotiated and signed NAFTA and tried to get it ratified and implemented before Clinton took office.

Clinton signed the bill that later passed the House and Senate to implement the terms of the treaty already signed. He (and Chretien) also added side agreements on the environment and labor to the treaty that weren't in it prior.


Let's not confuse the content with the action.

He was impeached for perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice in a criminal investigation. He had to give up his law license as penalty.

Lesser people (like Martha Stewart) have spent time in prison for what Clinton did.

Yup, the 3 Amigos Summit signing in NAFTA was a big news maker (for good or for worse) here up North.

the wheels were already in motion ever before Bill Clinton ran for President
 

gutter_trash

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He could have handled the Elian Gonzales situation better. It's probably the reason why Bush won Florida over Gore.
Anti-Castro sentiment always ran high among the Baby Boomer Cuban-Americans.
They wanted Elian to stay

the Elian Gonzales saga watch full of fuckery with the SWAT team entering with guns.
But in the end, he had a living father in Cuba and it was international clusterfuck to deny a Father from having his son back.

IMO, Reno and Clinton did the right thing sending Elian back to his Father in Cuba
 

Zee-Row

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Anti-Castro sentiment always ran high among the Baby Boomer Cuban-Americans.
They wanted Elian to stay

the Elian Gonzales saga watch full of fuckery with the SWAT team entering with guns.
But in the end, he had a living father in Cuba and it was international clusterfuck to deny a Father from having his son back.

IMO, Reno and Clinton did the right thing sending Elian back to his Father in Cuba
It sucks because his mothers death was in vain trying to get him here and now the Castros are using him as a political symbol.
 

benjipwns

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Contemporary timeline:
August 1997: Tripp encountered Kathleen Willey coming out of Oval Office "disheveled. Her face red and her lipstick was off." Willey later alleged that Clinton groped her. Clinton's lawyer, Bill Bennett said in the article that Linda Tripp is not to be believed.

Fall 1997: Tripp to begin taping conversations in which Lewinsky details her alleged affair with the president.
Dec. 17: Lewinsky is subpoenaed by lawyers for Paula Jones, who is suing the president on sexual harassment charges.

Dec. 28: Lewinsky makes her final visit to the White House, according to White House logs, and was signed in by Currie. Lewinsky reportedly met privately with Clinton and he allegedly encouraged her to be "evasive" in her answers in the Jones' lawsuit.

January 1998

Jan. 7, 1998: Lewinsky files an affidavit in the Jones case in which she denies ever having a sexual relationship with President Clinton.

Jan. 9: Tripp delivers the tapes to her lawyer, Jim Moody.

Jan. 12: Linda Tripp contacts the office of Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr to talk about Lewinsky and the tapes she made of their conversations. The tapes allegedly have Lewinsky detailing an affair with Clinton and indicate that Clinton and Clinton friend Vernon Jordan told Lewinsky to lie about the alleged affair under oath.

Jan. 13, 1998: Tripp, wired by FBI agents working with Starr, meets with Lewinsky at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel bar in Pentagon City, Va., and records their conversation.

Jan. 14, 1998: Lewinsky gives Tripp a document headed "Points to make in an affidavit," coaching Tripp on what to tell Jones' lawyers about Kathleen Willey, another former White House staffer. Willey recently had testified about alleged unsolicited sexual advances made by the president in 1993.

Jan. 16, 1998: Starr contacts Attorney General Janet Reno to get permission to expand his probe. Reno agrees and submits the request to a panel of three federal judges. The judges agree to allow Starr to formally investigate the possibility of subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Jones case. Tripp and Lewinsky meet again at the Ritz-Carlton. FBI agents and U.S. attorneys intercede and take Lewinsky to a hotel room, where they question her and offer her immunity. Lewinsky contacts her mother, Marcia Lewis, who travels down from New York City by train. Lewis contacts her ex-husband, who calls attorney William Ginsburg, a family friend. Ginsburg advises her not to accept the immunity deal until he learns more.

Jan. 17, 1998: Ginsburg flies to Washington to represent Lewinsky. Clinton gives his deposition in the Jones lawsuit, in which he denies having a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. Newsweek magazine decides not to run a story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff on the Lewinsky tapes and the alleged affair.
Jan. 22, 1998: Clinton reiterates his denial of the relationship and says he never urged Lewinsky to lie. Starr issues subpoenas for a number of people, as well as for White House records. Starr also defends the expansion of his initial Whitewater investigation. Jordan holds a press conference to flatly deny he told Lewinsky to lie. Jordan also says that Lewinsky told him that she did not have a sexual relationship with the president.
Feb. 19, 1998: Ken Starr's chronology shows presidential friend Vernon Jordan began seeking a private-sector job for Monica Lewinsky within 72 hours of her being listed as a potential witness in the Paula Jones civil rights lawsuit against President Bill Clinton.
April 30, 1998: In his first news conference since the Lewinsky scandal broke, the president lashes out at Independent Counsel Ken Starr charging that he heads a "hard, well-financed, vigorous effort" to undercut the president. Clinton repeatedly declines to elaborate on his relationship with Lewinsky.
Aug. 17, 1998: President Bill Clinton becomes the first sitting president to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct. After the questioning at the White House is finished, Clinton goes on national TV to admit he had an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Starr should have never expanded the investigation, but this is how prosecutors work.

You see the same thing done to regular people where they're hit with as many charges as possible so as to make it easier to plea bargain them down and get the win.

Starr was running out of rope on Whitewater because the Clinton team had successfully stonewalled him but he had nothing, but by grabbing onto this barely related crime he could potentially save his "win" and get something, somebody out of it. Lewinsky, Clinton, somebody.

The GOP then just took advantage of it for political purposes:
September 9, 1998: Independent Counsel Ken Starr submits his report and 18 boxes of supporting documents to the House of Representatives.

September 11, 1998: The House of Representative votes to receive the Starr report. The House Judiciary Committee takes possession of the 18 boxes of materials and promptly releases the first 445 pages to the public.

September 18, 1998: Over Democrats' objections, the House Judiciary Committee agrees to release President Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony and more than 3,000 pages of supporting material from the Starr report, including sexually explicit testimony from Monica Lewinsky.

September 21, 1998: The Judiciary Committee releases and many television networks immediately broadcast more than four hours of President Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony. Along with the videotape, the Judiciary Committee also releases the appendix to the Starr's report which includes 3,183 pages of testimony and other evidence, including a photograph of Lewinsky's semen-stained dress.

September 24, 1998: The House Judiciary Committee announces the committee will consider a resolution to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Clinton in an open session on October 5 or October 6.
 

gutter_trash

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It sucks because his mothers death was in vain trying to get him here and now the Castros are using him as a political symbol.
yeah it sucks for the mom but in the end his next first of kin was in Cuba.

Anyway, things are going to slowly change hopefully over there.. people have been saying this for decades but lol them Castros live long
 
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Glass steagal repeal, economy, tough on crime laws, perception of growth and prosperity at the time that I think we still haven't regained, and don't ask don't are the good and bad issues that matter, all lumped together.

The Monica Lewinsky thing is such a stupid, inconsequential non issue. I can't believe people get hung up on it.
 

War Peaceman

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He's like tony blair. People like him because he had charisma and could be charming and in bills case down to earth. Then if you actually look past the fluff, they weren't good at all.

Blair and Clinton are the same in the sense that they were both third way, charismatic left wingers. However their reputations and records are opposite.

Clinton is revered largely because of economic prosperity. However this was short termist and circumstantial. Many of his policies caused dangerous problems nowadays and were very bad for non whites. The closer you look, the worse he fairs.

Blair is loathed because of Iraq despite the economic prosperity under New Labour. His record is solid though. We went from Section 28 to Civil Partnerships, invested enormously in the NHS, various child tax benefits/Sure Starts, greater global political presence, devolution, banning fox hunting, etc. It was pretty great and socially liberal. There was still deregulation but this was good, solid left-leaning policy.

Clinton had the 22nd amendment to save his reputation from being hurt by the results of his policies. He was also followed by one of the all time worst presidents.
 

benjipwns

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The Monica Lewinsky thing is such a stupid, inconsequential non issue. I can't believe people get hung up on it.
It was one of the first real multi-network cable news 24/7 orgies along with OJ. The public expansion of internet accessibility played a big role.

It's also only one of two times a President has been impeached in all of American history.

Not saying it's not truly a non-issue, but non-issues are everything in politics.
 

BigDug13

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His Actual Presidency was average at best. He devastated the African-American Community with laws that even today continue to tear the fabric of those communities.
He benefitted from the Boom and Bust cycle America has developed into. His Presidency got to ride the Boom phase and he managed to get out of office just before the burst so another President would get the baggage of a bad economy.

I mean the only actual impact he had on the economy was regulation repeal which ensured when the bust cycle occurred it would be enormous.

He didn't leave office till Jan 2001 and the bust of dot com happened heavily through 2000. He most definitely did not leave office unscathed by the bubble burst yet still had 65% approval rating.

He has plenty of major issues already highlighted in this thread but let's not pretend he got to quietly escape before shit went down.
 

SciencePilot

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In terms of how it is viewed: good at the time but has gotten worse.

It seems like NAFTA's reputation in particular has suffered recently, which is weird to me. NAFTA was a good thing. Not sure why there's so much hate for trade these days.
 

UltimaPooh

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His personal life leaves a lot to be desired.

But for the most part his policies are remembered fondly.

Though his reform of welfare has had pretty mixed results. I think they made certain areas worse and doesn't really help to lift anyone out of poverty.
 

BigDug13

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In terms of how it is viewed: good at the time but has gotten worse.

It seems like NAFTA's reputation in particular has suffered recently, which is weird to me. NAFTA was a good thing. Not sure why there's so much hate for trade these days.

TPP is getting a lot of justified heat and the Republican narrative has used its unpopularity to shift the focus to "NAFTA is basically the same thing therefore it was one of the worst things we've passed in history." And why? Because Bill Clinton was president when it was passed. So now they get to tie Hillary to a bill that according to them is just as damaging as TPP would be.
 

Iksenpets

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In terms of how it is viewed: good at the time but has gotten worse.

It seems like NAFTA's reputation in particular has suffered recently, which is weird to me. NAFTA was a good thing. Not sure why there's so much hate for trade these days.

Yeah, there's been some very necessary reassessment of his crime bill and welfare reform and financial deregulation, but the broader culture lumping NAFTA in with that has been weird. And if anti-trade people want something to demonize, GWBush granting China permanent most favored nation stays in 2001 seems to have been much more impactful in terms of leading to large scale investment in off-shoring.
 

dude

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For a time, he was like, the ultimate President for me as an Israeli who grew up in the 90s. I think his presidency is held in very high regard in general over here.

Personally though, I now know a little better. I mean, beside domestic stuff I might know less about, in terms of peace-making in Israel I think a lot of the efforts of that era are not held in as high a regard in anti-occupation circles today.
 

bender

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He'll hold a special place in my heart since he was the first person I voted for and no other politician since can come close to his charisma.
 

BigDug13

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He'll hold a special place in my heart since he was the first person I voted for and no other politician since can come close to his charisma.

It was weird. I turned 18 that year and my friend said she was voting for him because he had "smiling eyes".

As far as I'm concerned, H.W. didn't seem so bad so I'm not sure another term of him would have been terrible.
 

Nottle

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As someone who was far too young to remember I sort of feel like he is very well regarded.
Always seemed to wield a southern boy Elvis like sense of charisma.

Though W and Obama have something about their personalitys that also was pretty charismatic to me. This of course is not looking at any of the good or harm their policies may have done.
 
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