The other night on PBS' "American Experience," we watched their take on William Jefferson Clinton, the last president of the 20th century.
And, frankly, we couldn't have disagreed more with their take on Bill Clinton's presidency. They painted a first term scarred by defeat on health care and a loss of control of Congress. They portrayed a president in his second term paralyzed by scandal (Monica Lewinsky) and, therefore, ineffectual.
Baloney. Bill Clinton took the losses of his first two years in office and turned them into a string of successes that not only reformed welfare, but also balanced the federal budget. That achievement established the framework for unprecedented prosperity in the country.
We would rank him with Roosevelt and Reagan as the best presidents of the 20th century.
In fact, Bill Clinton is one of the brilliant minds of the 20th and 21st centuries. What he and his mastermind, Dick Morris, referred to as "triangulation," we would refer to as compromise. Clinton, as president, did not "cave" to the Republicans in the mid-90s when welfare reform was adopted. No, he put forward his plan to put people back to work and gained Republican compliance.
Anyone who thinks Clinton was not a good president is in denial. There has not been a president since who has shown his commitment to solving the big problems of our country.
"American Experience" dwelled too much on his personal problems and early failures. His successes far outweighed those. Future presidents - and would-be presidents - would do well to study Bill Clinton's successes, particularly his willingness to address big problems head-on.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.