Monday, January 28, 2008

Krugman: Lessons of 1992

Paul Krugman delivers a de rigueur whip-smart Op-Ed in todays NY Times:

A Bush is in the White House, the economy is a mess, and there’s a candidate who, in the view of a number of observers, is running on a message of hope, of moving past partisan differences, that resembles Bill Clinton’s campaign 16 years ago.
Not that Obama is Bill or vice versa but there are striking similarities between then and now. Specific forces and conditions are to blame. We ignore these parallels at our peril. More Krugman:
Has everyone forgotten what happened after the 1992 election?

Let’s review the sad tale, starting with the politics.

Whatever hopes people might have had that Mr. Clinton would usher in a new era of national unity were quickly dashed. Within just a few months the country was wracked by the bitter partisanship Mr. Obama has decried.

This bitter partisanship wasn’t the result of anything the Clintons did. Instead, from Day 1 they faced an all-out assault from conservatives determined to use any means at hand to discredit a Democratic president.

For those who are reaching for their smelling salts because Democratic candidates are saying slightly critical things about each other, it’s worth revisiting those years, simply to get a sense of what dirty politics really looks like.
Krugman summarizes the pitfalls, land mines and full-frontal assaults targeted at Bill Clinton. He makes a point that is so obvious, so true but has thus far gone unsaid:
First, those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves.
Krugman hits the bulls-eye. Dems are so abundantly assured that there's no way a Democrat will fail to win the White House, that scant thought has gone into what will happen if that does indeed happen. That is folly.

No matter whom we nominate, folks, if a Democrat is elected, we will witness a kind of Republican-orchestrated vitriol that will make the Bill Clinton-era partisan attacks look like Sunday school. The GOP and their surrogate legions have employed these tactics with spectacular success. They have it down to a science. Democrats have a proven inability to mount an effective defense against this Republican offense. Nor do they possess an offense potent enough to disarm the GOP defense. And that's just the way the neo-cons, retro-cons, Jesu-cons, ex-cons and future-cons like it.

With your opponents consistently, brazenly put party above country, it shouldn't come as any shock that we've had a Republican President for all but 12 out of the last 40 years. Read Krugman's piece in it's entirety here.