Published on Friday, April 23, 2010 by The Oregonian
Bill Clinton's Contrition Contribution
In 1992, I was in 10th grade. Hence, I didn't care about much more than the girls I could never get, the Philadelphia 76ers' playoff chances and the shortcomings of my own unimpressive basketball career (in that order) – and I certainly didn't care about politics. So when my teacher assigned me to represent a Southerner I'd never heard of in a mock presidential debate, I was, um, not psyched.
My attitude changed, though, when I started researching – wait, what was his name again? Oh, right – Bill Clinton. To my surprise, what I found was inspiring. The lip-biting saxophonist seemed like a forthright guy with some heartfelt "feel your pain" outrage at the unfairness of the moment's Gordon Gekko zeitgeist. An early campaign speech I discovered particularly captivated me – the one in which Clinton said, "I expect the jetsetters and featherbedders of corporate America to know that if you sell your companies and your workers and your country down the river, you'll be called on the carpet."
Call me crazy or gullible – at 16, I was probably both – but I bought it. If not for
This naive faith, of course, is why I would later come to detest Bill Clinton.
Upon assuming office, he championed the very corporatist policies he railed on – lobbyist-written free-trade pacts and financial deregulation, to name a few. To me, a fervent supporter turned spurned groupie,
Because of his reversals, I ended up in my adult years being critical of
Whereas former presidents typically devote their retirements to history-revising legacy preservation,
It began with his congressional testimony last month. Discussing his administration's trade policy,
"It was a mistake," he said of his agribusiness-backed initiatives forcing impoverished countries to eliminate tariffs. "It was a mistake that I was a party to ... I had to live every day with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did."
Some will undoubtedly say "too little, too late." But with
Better he acknowledge the failure of misguided trade and deregulatory initiatives, rather than pretend they succeeded. Better he apologize for the betrayals that deflated his supporters, rather than feign indifference. Why? Because the penitence may now spur change.
Clinton's compunction could, for instance, convince President Obama to shelve new free-trade proposals and avoid undermining Congress' current financial regulatory legislation. It may compel Obama to fire the same
After all, if
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David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book is "The Uprising ." He is a fellow at the Campaign for
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/23-5
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs