Former President Bill Clinton recently broke loose with a number of criticisms of President Bush. Sadly, his criticisms betray his wistful affection for warmed-over ideals of the past, coupled with an attempt at political opportunism.
Oddly, he continues to repeat the mantra that the war in Iraq came because we didn’t let the inspections process work. Dear Mr. President: Do you really believe the inspection process would have led to trustworthy results when access of inspectors was controlled by a madman? In light of what we know about oil for food, do you really want us to trust the UN with our security?
On Katrina, he points to the federal government for failing to evacuate the poor in the wake of the hurricane. Dear Mr. President: Isn’t the formation and execution of an evacuation plan the responsibility of state and local governments? Moreover, he has the audacity to suggest that his personal experience in environments with “disproportionate numbers of poor people” somehow made his administration better equipped than the present one to handle disaster preparations. Sorry, Mr. President. We remember that you “felt our pain”. And most of us are glad that we don’t experience it any more. We can all (individuals and government officials) learn from experiences like this one, but these criticisms don't offer anything constructive or helpful.
Finally, on the economy, he continues to question why we borrow money to finance “my tax cut.” Mr. President, do you really believe that the government doesn’t take enough away from you in the form of taxes? If so, I have no problem with you giving back as much as you wish. The fact that other countries want to invest here (or finance our economic expansion) is a positive thing. Our growing and stable economy is the envy of the world, and it comes from creating opportunities for all people. While I do have some qualms about federal spending at these levels, bringing back higher taxes in the face of one-time disasters would not be a positive way to finance reconstruction. However, as suggested by others (including the OWH editorial page last week), we should look once again at other federal spending programs.
As for his attempt to make political points at the expense of GWB, I don't think it will work. I want a leader who can offer something besides second-guessing and criticism with the benefit of hindsight. (Or maybe no hindsight, if you still think inspections are the way to go.) And surely you can come up with something more imaginative than another tax increase as part of the solution to everything. As Bill Clinton should know, "that dog don't hunt."