Tags: ruddy | future | clinton

Back to the Future, Clinton-Style

Tuesday, 27 Feb 2007 12:00 AM

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As Hillary Rodham Clinton comes under withering attack from the likes of Barack Obama, John Edwards, and the anti-war left, she will continue to do what she has been doing to win her party's nomination — she will cling to her husband's mantle.

But that mantle is not made of pure iron. It is, in fact, wrought of good and bad metals.

Hillary likes to talk about her husband's economic record in the 1990s as if it were her own. "We know how to do the economy right — we did it in the 1990s," she said in a Senate speech.

For sure, the '90s were good years for America, and Bill Clinton can share in some of the credit. But a large amount of the credit is due to Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America Republicans who stormed Capitol Hill in 1994 and overthrew decades of Democratic waste and runaway spending.

Sensing the change in America, Bill quickly jettisoned his liberal economic ideas, especially Hillarycare, and took a more centrist approach.

He also took some advice from political guru Dick Morris, who advised him to govern from the middle, embrace welfare reform, and work with the Republicans.

Good came out of it.

Federal spending was restrained; taxes remained in check; the country prospered. Clinton's economic record, I must reluctantly admit, looks even better after the past six years; in which we have seen the largest increase in federal discretionary spending since LBJ's "Great Society" spending spree — with overall federal outlays up more than 40 percent during the Bush administration.

There is a dark side to the Clinton years, however.

For one thing, scandal after scandal plagued the president. Hillary may claim a "right-wing conspiracy," but it is doubtful Americans will want to return to such a polarizing period.

Then there were the national security matters.

Hillary will have a difficult time persuading Americans she deserves to have the presidency based on her husband's record.

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