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One of the more interesting memes spread by pro-Obama Kossacks is the notion that electing Hillary Clinton means that the Clintons between them will cause the Dems to lose Congress, like what they think happened in 1994, when Bill was President.

OK, now I know that a voter who is 18-25 this year was between four and eleven years old in 1994, but that's still no excuse for not understanding what happened in that election cycle.

(details below the fold)

Coming into the 1994 election, the Democrats held the House of Representatives for over 40 years.  The chamber was rocked by scandals, most notably the House Banking Scandal and the Congressional Post Office Scandal.  

At the time, the House operated its own "bank," and allowed CongressCritters to overdraw their accounts and not back them up on their Visa cards.  The abuse of the "bank" ran from simple overdrafts to felonies.  In the end, one Republican, four Democrats, the Dem Delegate from DC, and the House Sergeant At Arms were all convicted or pled guilty to charges stemming from this scandal.

The Congressional Post Office scandal netted a big fish, Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL).  "Rosty," a product of the Cook County political machine, was chairman of Ways and Means at the time.  He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months for laundering money through the post office.

While the corruption of the House Bank was bi-partisan (many Republicans were just as guilty of the overdrafts as Dems), the Post Office scandal was essentially Rosty's thing.  The GOP leadership, led by then Minority Whip Newt the Gingrich, was outraged at how then-Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) was sitting on the accusations and reports alleging wrongdoing by Rostenkowski.

In short, the House was a sewer of corruption, Democratic corruption.  That's what happens when you're in control of an institution for generations.  GOP attempts to break the Dem lock on the House date back much farther than Clinton's presidency.  One of the main vehicles of attack was GOPAC, a Republican Political Action Committee that was formed in 1977.  GOPAC's leadership was taken over by Gingrich during the term of Bush 41, and Newt used the PAC's fund raising power to put the squeeze on Speaker Foley.

And squeeze he did, shouting the sins of the Democrats to anyone who would listen.  In 1992, Gingrich began to seriously push the notion of term limits for CongressCritters, a concept vehemently opposed by Foley and the Democrats.  Term limits became one of the highlights of "The Contract for America," a series of pledges and promises Republicans running for Congress in 1994 signed and promoted.

Clinton's policies of that first year and a half didn't help, either.  This was when Hillary led the task force on health care.  Some of the things being put forward by the task force were unacceptable to Congressional Dems and the interests that pumped millions of dollars into their campaign warchests.  Hillary's style (and that of her task force staff) chafed a number of Congressional leaders, slowing down any hope of moving forward on the issue.  But, in the end, it was the CongressCritters themselves the people blamed.  When Dems in Congress blocked Republican initiatives put forward by St. Ronald of California and Bush 41, they were participating in "divided government." Ronnie's people weren't much better than the current turds in the West Wing, so it wasn't hard to explain the opposition.  When Clinton took office, though, there was no division of government, and the youthful, charismatic Southerner made the Critters look bad.

And boy, were they spanked for their misdeeds.  Thirty-four (34) incumbent Dems lost their seats in 1994, compared to no Republicans.  The total swing with open seats was 54.  Among those defeated were Rostenkowski (IL-5), running for his 18th term, Neal Edward Smith (IA-4), also running for an 18th term, Jack Brooks (TX-9), running for his 21st term, and the Speaker, Tom Foley (WA-5), running for his 15th term.

To attribute the ability to oust 34 incumbent Dems, including such senior members as listed above, to a President who had been in office a mere 22 months is preposterous.  

The Senate

On the Senate side, open seats killed the Democrats' hope of keeping control of the chamber.  Two incumbent Dems were defeated, Harris Wofford (PA) and Jim Sasser (TN).  Scandal tainted the Senate at this time as well.  Dennis DeConcini (AZ) retired after becoming part of the "Keating Five," one of the many aspects of the "Savings and Loan Scandals" of the 1980s.

(Interestingly enough, John McCain was also a member of the Keating Five.  Useful information to remember.  Or maybe look up for those of you who didn't know that in the first place.)

In addition to DeConcini, the Majority Leader, George Mitchell (he of steroid fame of late) retired, creating an open seat in ME.  MI, OH, OK, and TN also had open seats, the latter the result of Al Gore becoming veep.  Again, it's possible to argue that Clinton's first year in office had some impact on these races, but there's no way the blame for all these races can be laid at Clinton's feet.

The dynamics of Congressional elections have been different for every cycle in the 20th century as well as the 21st.  To say that we'll have the same situation as 1994 simply because the President's name might be Clinton again ignores these dynamics.

Still, Hillary Clinton eats babies.  And sacrifices cats.

Originally posted to Where Y'at? on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:26 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Good History lesson (5+ / 0-)

      The days of Dan Rostenkowski and abuse of power should have been a cautionary tale for someone like Tom Delay except I think he and Newt used it as a blueprint and then they added on to it.

      Thanks for the perspective.

      Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction ~ John F. Kennedy

      by vcmvo2 on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:39:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You forget about the 1992 election... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...which included a third-party candidate that soaked up a great many dissaffected Republicans.  It is very likely that Clinton would not have been elected at all had Ross Perot not been in the running.

      The sad fact is that the nation was swinging to the right (a GOP meme, but still) if for no other reason than because the nation wanted a change from the Democratic Congress and twelve years of Republican presidential rule.  Bill Clinton was lucky to get elected under those circumstances.  And, I think, the nation was lucky to have him.

      I think the issue with a lot of Edwards and Obama supporters is that they are under the impression that the nation is in complete agreement with their positions and ideals and are just waiting for a courageous leader to make those ideals a reality.  Even if that is true right now, it is only because George W Bush has shown how nakedly hollow actual conservative policies are and how ruthlessly incompetent Republican leadership is.  It has been made so clear by Bush that it seems like it was always known to e that way.  Well, it wasn't.  The Dems in Congress were viewed as aging, entitled and corrupt.  The rightwing media machine was gaining power unopposed by anything on the Progressive side.  The Evangelical Right was coming to the fore.  And the aging Baby Boomers were at that horrible mid-life crisis point where they hate everything because their own lives did not turn out like they wanted.  It was hard times for a Progressive.

      I applaud the supporters of Obama and Edwards (and for the record, I have not decided who to support) for their passion and energy during this period of Democratic/Progressive ascendancy.  But I think that they are too harsh to judge those that had to exist and try to make progress in the ninties.

      My keyboard has a tempermental 'B' key; if a word does not make sense then just stick 'B's into it until it does.

      by Terrapin on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:52:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  perception vs. reality (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonscribe, Terrapin

        I think the issue with a lot of Edwards and Obama supporters is that they are under the impression that the nation is in complete agreement with their positions and ideals and are just waiting for a courageous leader to make those ideals a reality.

        there are a lot of folks in this community that fit this bill.  Let's forget the differences between Republicans and Democrats, even, but even within the Dem party, there are a lot of progressives who think the party is in lock-step with them.  They are so obsessed with Hillary-hate that they are clueless to the fact that a lot of Democrats don't see her as the evil individual they do.

        Even if she eats babies.

        funkify your life...

        by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:57:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No (0+ / 0-)

        ...which included a third-party candidate that soaked up a great many dissaffected Republicans.  It is very likely that Clinton would not have been elected at all had Ross Perot not been in the running.

        This is another common and understandable misconception.  

        Check it out, it turns out that Perot mostly pulled out people who don't normally vote, and of the people who do, they split a lot closer than you might expect between Dems and Republicans.

        Further, an electoral college analysis says that HW Bush could not have won without Perot, even if he won the states where Perot's total was the difference between him and Clinton.

        •  Interesting analysis... (0+ / 0-)

          ...and reasonable conclusion.

          For what it is worth, the assumption that Perot helped Clinton is much more strongly held in GOP circles than in Democratic circles.  The amount of seething rage against that man was a thing to behold.

          My keyboard has a tempermental 'B' key; if a word does not make sense then just stick 'B's into it until it does.

          by Terrapin on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 02:33:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  speaking of Congressional elections... (4+ / 0-)

    while we're all wrapped up in the Big Race, please don't forget our special election here in LA-01.  Go show fellow Kossack Gilda Reed some financial love--she now has to spend money in the 3-March Dem primary, because a local perennial wannabe qualified against her.

    funkify your life...

    by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:28:17 AM PST

  •  oh, don't screw up a good narrative ... (5+ / 0-)

    by introducing facts.  

    You're absolutely correct - the Democratic Congress brought about the tidal wave of '94 all by itself.  It didn't need any help from President Clinton.

    It's time for a president to to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war -- John Edwards

    by ThirstyGator on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:32:01 AM PST

  •  Hmm never heard that. LBJ lost the '94 congress (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...because of the Civil Rights act. It was the beginning of the final political consequences.

    There's something attractive about invincible ignorance... for the first 5 seconds.

    by MNPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:34:41 AM PST

  •  ok. (4+ / 0-)

    Clinton's policies of that first year and a half didn't help, either.

    It was Democratic abuse of office combined with Clinton's mismanagement of the presidency.

    (-2.75, -4.92) | Barack Obama: Best chance in a long time

    by Addison on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:35:04 AM PST

    •  it's a question of proportion... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J Rae, two roads

      we're talking about a triple scotch with a splash of water.

      and I disagree with your description of 1993-1994 as "mismanagement" on Clinton's part, but, after yesterday, I don't have any desire to engage you in further discussion.

      funkify your life...

      by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:37:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ha. (0+ / 0-)

        yeah, no more discussions about the meaning of words, whether it's mismanagement or ownership.

        (-2.75, -4.92) | Barack Obama: Best chance in a long time

        by Addison on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:40:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  How do you measure it? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'll concede that the banking scandal played a major role.  

        But I also remember problems connected to the White House Travel Office firings, Somalia, the gays in the military issue (which got social conservatives riled up), health care reform (began and pretty much ended with the GOP takeover), the Branch Davidian Waco show-down, the beginning of Whitewater, NAFTA, and the Clinton tax increases.

        Some of these represented good policies -- some were problems of PR -- some were genuine blunders.  All added weight to the GOP's argument in advance of the 1994 election.

        •  measure it by the seniority (4+ / 0-)

          Why would a district toss out the Speaker of the House in favor of a no-name freshman?  Why would another district toss out the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee?  The people in those districts knew Clinton for only two years.  They knew these guys for decades.  In 1994, the mud being thrown at the Clintons was barely sticking, and most of the serious memes put forth by Scafie-financed forces hadn't developed.  

          The GOP machine cranked up the effort to take back Congress a decade before Clinton was on anybody's radar.

          funkify your life...

          by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:47:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have a different recollection . . . (0+ / 0-)

            and I remember those years pretty well.  

            Even looking at the Gallup's presidential approval ratings we'd find that Clinton was only at 46% in advance of the 1994 election (the numbers later dipped to 43%).

            When a president dips below 50% it tends to have a drag on the overall party "brand".  Clinton was much less of a factor in 1994 than Bush was in 2006.  

            But if we were to say, say 14 years from now, that if we look back at the 2006 election the overwhelming cause was GOP corruption, I think we would be missing out on another significant contributing factor.  Clinton's mid-40 numbers in 1994 were less consequential than Bush's high 30s numbers in late 2006, but they were a drag on the party's performance in 1994 nevertheless.

    •  A Different Take (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It was the final maturation of the modern Republican propaganda machine and the Republican capture of the Village.  This plus the working coalition with right wing Democrats like the execrable David Boren from Oklahoma.

      This process had really begun under Reagan, but it really came into its own in the first two years of Clinton's presidency.  Clinton and other Dems couldn't catch a media break if his life depended on it and they never did, right up to January 2001.

      The press had treated Reagan with kid gloves, but no one expected the press would go all out to vilify and dehumanize a president just because the president was a Democrat (though there were signs of that toward the end of Carter's presidency).

      This wasn't the result of Clinton's mismanagement. It was the result of effective work by Republicans like Gingrich, Michael Deaver and Lee Atwater, along with their allies in industry, lavishly funded think tanks like the Bradley Foundation, and the white southern churches.

      The Republicans had built a successful political movement that came of age during the 12 years of Reagan/Bush.  HRC described it as a vast right wing conspiracy and people laughed.  But she was right.

      And Democrats ignore at their peril the significance of the Republicans' accomplishment.

      That's why, to a certain extent, Obama is right to focus on inspiring and building a movement.  Without that grass roots energy, and without the focus on building our own think tanks, grass roots mobilizations, our own Drudges, etc, every Democrat in office will eventually begin to suffer the way 1994 Democrats (and that includes Bill Clinton) did.

      If Bill Clinton can be blamed for anything, it is that he focused on himself and his own personal political future rather than trying to build a movement that could counter what the Republicans had built.  And I don't see any of the other leading Democrats doing any of that today (with the possible exception of Howard Dean and DFA).

      Which brings me down to what is to me the most important distinction between Senators Obama and Clinton.  Senator Obama seems like he at least partly gets this.  It all may just be an act to gather in a constituency capable of beating Clinton's establishment forces.  But I see no indication that Senator Clinton is at all interested in helping to build a long term progressive movement.

      So, one way to look at the difference between the two candidates is that with Obama there is a slim chance that he may actually start helping to build a long-term form of movement progressivism that would help counter the Republican movement conservatism.  With the people Senator Clinton surrounds herself with -- the Mark Penns, the Mickey Kantors, the M ke McCurdys --  it's far more likely that a Clinton Administration would use the levers of power to oppose the building of a progressive movement, especially building something like that within the Democratic Party (which she, as president) would control.

      And that, basically, is the only reason I plan to vote for Senator Obama in Tuesday's California Primary.

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:30:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It was the final maturation of the modern Republican propaganda machine and the Republican capture of the Village.  This plus the working coalition with right wing Democrats like the execrable David Boren from Oklahoma.

        I would argue that the propaganda machine got such a huge shot of Scaife-induced financial steroids that it didn't fully mature until 1996, but that's nit-picking.

        funkify your life...

        by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:34:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  there many mis-steps (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decon, YatPundit, NotGeorgeWill

    Bill Clinton certainly does not deserve all of the blame for 1994, but don't forget travelgate, don't ask don't tell, the nanny chronicles and directly quoted from  wikipedia

    One of the most prominent items on Clinton's legislative agenda was a health care reform plan, the result of a taskforce headed by Hillary Clinton, aimed at achieving universal coverage via a national healthcare plan. Though initially well-received in political circles, it was ultimately doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry. However, John F. Harris, a biographer of Clinton's, states that the program failed because of a lack of co-ordination within the White House.[22] Despite his party holding a majority in the House and Senate, the effort to create a national healthcare system ultimately died under heavy public pressure. It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.[20][22]
    Two months later, after two years of Democratic Party control under Clinton's leadership, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous for the Democrats. This was the first time the Democratic Party had lost control of both houses of Congress in 40 years.


    So yeah the corruption did not help but the Clinton leadership did not exactly win over the nation at that time.

  •  Good diary rec'd (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YatPundit, NotGeorgeWill, two roads

    Though I disagree on the Hillary cat remark. Torturing animals is Huckabee's specialty and we shouldn't be so selfish to take it away from him.

    Go Hillary!

    'I don't want any commies in my car. Christians either!' Repo Man

    by Psychotronicman on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:42:35 AM PST

  •  wrong wrong and wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decon, YatPundit

    The Democratic Congress was not particularly corrupt.  But the Reps played their usual game of ginning up totally unimportant things and turning them into scandals.  The House bank was one of them, but Newt had a way of making something out of nothing.  

    I remember him speaking in 1994 and showing a tin bucket and explaining that members of Congress had ice delivered to their offices in these every morning.  This was supposed a sign of their great corruption.

    But Clinton certainly fed into this narrative of scandals and mismanagement.  You already had the Travel office imbroglio and lots of stories about internal problems, plus the health care fiasco (run by HRC).

    The Clintons certainly had a role in losing Congress.

  •  Another valuable lesson of '94 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YatPundit, two roads

    Three months before the election, Congressional Republicans forced the withdrawal of US troops from Somalia.
    There was no blowback at the polls.

    To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all -Goethe

    by commonscribe on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:48:20 AM PST

  •  perfect example (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decon, The Third Man

    of The Clinton's dragging us back into the arguments of the 90's.  I am respectfully opposed to a do-over.  Hillary=The Past, Obama=The Future.

    Mrs. Teasdale: I held him in my arms and kissed him. Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, I see, then it was murder!

    by ratador on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:51:37 AM PST

    •  looking back is always useful (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J Rae, two roads

      because the Mighty Wurlitzer will do it to either candidate, and we have to be prepared.  My horse pulled out of the race Thursday, so I really am not interested in your past/future screed.  I just want to make sure we're not saying "President Romney" next January.

      But Hillary does eat babies.

      funkify your life...

      by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:53:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sure is funny... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YatPundit, J Rae, two roads a well researched diary like this can be so easily dismissed as the 'past' because it debunks another Clinton myth. Forgetting the 'past' doesn't seem as easy for some when it reflects negatively on Hillary. Then her detractors hang on to the past like it is gold.

      'I don't want any commies in my car. Christians either!' Repo Man

      by Psychotronicman on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:56:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  neat trap there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It wouldn't be right to pick Hillary because people will unfairly attack her for things that happened in the 90s.

      It's so fortunate the Democrats nominated a candidate in 2004 who had no big involvement in the 1990s and was relatively clean of the Clintons influence.  The Republicans were utterly unable to bring up anything from his past and ran an election campaign solely on the issues!

      Don't kid yourself, Obama's general election will be full of talk about his drug use and grade school essays.  That's not a reason to not pick him, I like him more than Hillary too, but no Democratic candidate will escape their ability to pour salt on old wounds.  

  •  great diary (4+ / 0-)

    I guess we the 30+ people have lived too long and seen too many things and thus get a little prickly at this attempt at revisionism by the 16-25 cult following of Obama.

  •  And how much of the blame... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, YatPundit

    ... does Bill Clinton deserve for W's win in 2000?  I don't think it's even a close election in the absence of Bill and Monica's excellent adventure.

    Bill Clinton hurts as much as he helps in my opinion. I've always been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I've always been willing to balance his weaknesses against his strengths.  And I've always defended him from unfair and irrational Republican attacks often in very difficult circumstances (i.e. in a rural Georgia Baptist Church where I'm outnumbered 100 - 1).  

    But given his recent race baiting, I'm done defending the man.  

    A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

    by decon on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:54:18 AM PST

    •  this diary isn't about the 2000 election... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Psychotronicman, two roads

      go do some research for yourself and write about it if you like.

      or write about how Hillary eats babies.  I'll rec that.

      funkify your life...

      by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:55:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes I see that this diary ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Third Man

        ... isn't about the 2000 election.  It is about a closely related subject -- Bill Clinton's ability to elect Republicans.

        I also see that you attack me rather than address the argument. That's not a very compelling response.

        A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

        by decon on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:58:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i spent the morning researching 1994... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          so I don't have clear facts on 2000 at the moment.  If you want to write something cogent on 2000, I'll read the meantime, I'm addressing this particular bogus Obama meme.

          funkify your life...

          by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:00:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  and what (0+ / 0-)

            And what did you read about it?  What authors?

            Didn't they all explain about the Clintons' unpopularity and the belief then that they were involved in scandals?  Didn't they all explain that Republicans used Bill Clinton in their ads because he had such a negative image?

        •  well geee (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I seem to recall the Democrat getting more votes in 2000 than his republican opponent.

          I guess it's bill clinton's fault he wasn't governor of Florida now?

          •  It is most definitely Bill Clinton's fault... (0+ / 0-)

            ... that the election was close enough to be stolen by partisans in Florida.  In addition to Florida, the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, West Virgina, Arkansas, Louisiana all went for Clinton in '96 .... and for Bush in 2000. And that's just of the top of my head... no research, so feel free to add the ones I forgot about.  

            It shouldn't even have been close and it was because of Bill and Monica's excellent adventure.  

            A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

            by decon on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 09:03:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  this simply isn't true (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Bill Clinton was sitting on near 70% favourables in 2000.  The Public loved him.

              I remember a poll which showed he would easily have won the 2000 election if he had been able to run.

              You're chosing to disregard the unfavourable media climate, the rise of fox news, the ongoing republican attack machine, etc etc.

              Bill Clinton was a product of the times and Gore may have listened to the Broderites by running away from Clinton instead of embracing him.

              I refuse to blame Bill Clinton for the Republicans spending 6 years hounding him to destroy him.  This is blaming the victim.  Nobody "makes" the republicans behave as despicably as they do and it doens't have to be this way.

              •  I emphasize the one thing... (0+ / 0-)

                ... that we Democrats have a direct influence on.  We don't control the media and we don't get to choose our opponents.

                We do get to choose our nominee, and choosing a Clinton would be incredibly stupid.  It's the one sure and easy way to unify and mobilize a badly fractured Republican party.

                A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

                by decon on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 10:21:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  national polls (0+ / 0-)

                National polls don't matter when the vote is by state.

                •  well (0+ / 0-)

                  You don't get to 70% approval without being able to win a state-by-state national election.  Unless you're contending voters in OH, PA and FL were so vastly different from the rest of the nation in their views on Clinton.  

                  And national polls matter anyway.  Lots of people look at them and think they're imporant.  That makes them matter even if the state by state results would look different.

  •  And don't forget Dick Gephart... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J Rae, Scientician, Psychotronicman

    ...who was publicly pissy about working with Bill Clinton towards a common agenda.

    p.s. A rec for a very well researched and stated diary.

    The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. - H.L. Mencken

    by two roads on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 07:58:56 AM PST

  •  Pretty funny, a few missing items from the litany (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decon, maineiac

    While elliptically mentioning "Hillary's style (and that of her task force staff)" you can't quite find the power to say the obvious: Hillary's failed effort at health care reform was a major contributing factor to public dissatisfaction with the Democrats.

    Other greatest hits, from the "ready on day one" crowd, included:

    the middle class tax cut, which was campaigned upon relentlessly and dropped between election day and inaguration day

    the attorney general process, another Hillary lead effort, which produced two failures, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, before settling on Janet Reno

    the expert bungling of the stimulus package, which did ultimately pass, but not before dropping the proposed gas tax

    the battle over gays in the military.

    I am not expressing a view on policies, just here to add a bit of detail to what actually happened.

    •  drops in the bucket... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J Rae, Scientician, Psychotronicman

      none of which combined to oust 34 incumbent CongressCritters.

      funkify your life...

      by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:02:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  since you haven't included (0+ / 0-)

        Since you haven't included ANY discussion of the role of the Clinton faux scandals and the real mismanagements for 1994, it's not credible for you to then say they were "drops in the bucket."

        You would have a much more credible analysis if you at least acknowledged their role and carefully considered the relative impact of Clintons vs. Democratic Congress.

      •  Your bucket has a hole in it.... (0+ / 0-)

        ... or it would be overflowing from all the "drops in the bucket" you are waving away.  

        Bill Clinton is a singularly talented individual.  He's very good at getting himself elected.  He's very good at getting Republicans elected.  And he's very good at damaging the longer term prospects of the Democratic party.  The record is pretty clear on this.  

        Democrats lost the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court thanks in large part to Bill Clinton.  And he's just not worth it anymore.  

        A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

        by decon on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:08:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do you have (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          YatPundit, Psychotronicman

          Any rational basis for saying this, or are you just making a correlation=causation argument?

          Riddle me this:  If the Clintons lost the congress for the Democrats in 1994, how come it didn't come back in 1996 or 1998?  Voters in 1998 were mad at the GOP for shutting down the government and for impeaching the ever-popular Clinton.

          Blaming Bill or Hillary for losing the congress is not backed by any analysis of the facts.

          •  once you lose seats (0+ / 0-)

            Once you lose seats, they're hard to get back.  There are all sorts of incumbency advantages in fundraising, recognition, from constituency service, etc.  

            •  more facts (0+ / 0-)

              Polling shows a plurality of voters approved of Hillary in mid 1993, and it had gone up to 56% approve and 41% disapproving in July of 1994.

              Bill Clinton was still more popular than not in October of 1994, with 48 approving and 46 disapproving.  Not great, but not like what happened in 2006 where Bush really did lose congress for the Republicans.

              In short, the Clintons were never hated by the country enough to cost the congress on their own.  It just doesn't add up.  If that were so, the Democrats would have gotten congress back in 1996, or 98 when the Clintons were very popular again.  That's what happened the previous time the Democrats lost congress in 1952 under Truman's unpopularity.  2 years later, voters remembered they liked the Democrats, and put them back in charge.

              •  so? (0+ / 0-)

                I never said the Clintons lost Congress on their own.  But they most definitely played a part.

                Plus national numbers are not necessarily useful here.  They were VERY unpopular in the swing districts that were lost.  Their job approval numbers were only as positive as they were because they had strong approval in highly Democratic areas.

              •  Those numbers . . . (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Gallup had Clinton at 46 the month before the election -- 43 just after it (I have a link to the polling data in an above post).

                The big question is what was the break down of the approval and disapproval numbers (e.g. to what extent did 48% STRONGLY approve of the president; and to what extent did 46% STRONGLY disapprove of the president).  The strength of those numbers, I'm guessing demonstrated fairly tepid support in itself.

                I agree with you that the Clintons did not single-handedly lose Congress, but I think it's true that the missteps during the first two years of the Clinton administration contributed to the loss of Congress in 1994.

                In some sense Clinton did lay a foundation for the future of the party by reversing some of the negative impressions left by Carter -- he demonstrated that a Democrat could handle the responsibilities of the Executive branch without creating major international or domestic crises -- but most of the benefits from his presidency redounded back to him, not to the party itself.

                •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  YatPundit, NotGeorgeWill

                  I see this diary as refuting the notion that the New Deal coalition was crusing along tickety boo until Bill Clinton came in with his triangulating ways and broke the machine.

                  It was already on its last legs, and it was just a question of when it collapsed.  One might argue that Bill Clinton saved the Democrats from losing the Congress and Presidency in 1992, and we could have had 4 years of Republican trifecta under HW Bush.

          •  you can't be serious (0+ / 0-)

            Why didn't the seats come back in '96 or '98?  In addition to the power of incumbency which makes a seat very hard to win back as mentioned below, Bill Clinton was still in office, and still playing the "mutually beneficial polarization" game with Republicans.

            And you make the point well by referring to "ever-popular Clinton".  He is good at playing the mutually beneficial polarization game with Republicans.  It's good for him, good for them, and not so good for Democrats generally.

            You want some kind of regression model to back it up?  Ever prediction model published in a peer reviewed political science journal prior to the 2000 election predicted a resounding Democratic win of the presidency.  So what happened? Bill and Monica's excellent adventure upset the paradigm, and southern white voters abandoned the party en masse to vote against Democrats.  

            A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.

            by decon on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:52:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You can't (0+ / 0-)

              Simultaneously back the idea that Clinton's low popularity in 1994 lost the congress, but his near 70% popularity in 2000 lost the presidency for Gore.

              Doesn't Gore play some role in this?  We all can see the Al Gore from An Inconvenient Truth is the Gore we love and would elect in a landslide.  That wasn't the man the Nation saw in 2000.  Then there is the broken media Reagan kicked off with ending the fairness doctrine, the ever growing attack machine, Fox News, etc etc.  Bill Clinton is not to blame for sigh-gate and "they're both the same" and earthtones and all the nonsense that was thrown at Gore.

              Nor especially the overt electoral fraud aspect.  

              Look, I don't deny the Clintons have their responsibility for the failures of the 90s, but they are not the majority of the problem or the cause of it, and the broad point of this diary is correct:  Blaming the Clintons for losing congress is just wrong.  We're the left and we do nuance!

    •  tax policy (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats were strong-armed into voting for the tax package and a lot of folks in swing districts lost their seats.  Clinton went from promising a middle class tax cut to a tax increase because he was convinced that deficit reduction was so so very important.

      •  I'm no longer responding to your comments (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        J Rae, Scientician, Psychotronicman

        because your Clinton-hate appears pathological, and I won't be a part of feeding it.

        funkify your life...

        by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:15:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't have Clinton hate (0+ / 0-)

          I haven't said anything hateful.  I voted for the man twice, defended him through impeachment, and was a HRC supporter earlier this cycle.

          I am doing political analysis.  You can stop answering if you want, but I kind of suspect that it's because you can't answer my points in a logical way, especially as there's nothing I've said that expresses hatred.

      •  no (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        J Rae, Psychotronicman

        In August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It cut taxes for 15 million low-income families, made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses,[37] and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers[38]. Additionally, it mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years, through the implementation of spending restraints.

        Please check your facts before making claims.  Clinton did not raise taxes on the Middle class.

  •  Rec'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J Rae, Psychotronicman

    There was another phenomenon I may diary about, and that is the religious right's takeover of the Republican party which was completed in 1994.

    Prior to that, most Republican congressional candidates were still rockefeller republicans and thus, for a lot of the south, the choice between their traditional southern democrat, and a business-republican who was often pro-choice was easy.  They kept the Democrats.

    Once the Republican party was fully anti-choice and bible thumping, add in the Democratic congressional scandals, and you have a recipe for takeover.

    The south completed doing what it had started in 1968:  Abandoning the Democratic party.  

    You are right, the Clintons are not the decisive reason why the Democrats lost congress.

    Anyone repeating this notion after reading this diary is engaging in decietful tactics worthy of Karl Rove.  I want Obama to win, but not if Democrats start acting like Republicans to do it.

    Shit, I see people referencing travelgate above.  Of all the made up attack machine scandals to hold against Hillary!  Why not go on about the Christmas card list too while we're at it?  

    •  Travelgate (0+ / 0-)

      You are absolutely right that Travelgate was a bs scandal.  But it was a Clinton faux scandal and was part of why his approval ratings went down which contributed to the Republican narrative that the Dems were the party of corruption.  

      The Clintons gave the media and Reps a little ammunition and they ran with it.  They also did not effectively counter the narrative.  

    •  Christian Coalition... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scientician, Psychotronicman

      they were the foot soldiers in 1994.  They marched the Contract for America into churches across the country and delivered districts to the GOP.  That wasn't Clinton-hate, it was years in the making.

      Clinton-hate came later, when they realized Hillary eats babies.

      funkify your life...

      by YatPundit on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:12:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  already existed (0+ / 0-)

    There already was Clinton hate in 1994.  They were already making videos about Clinton being involved in murders in Arkansas.  

    And, yes, the Christian right mattered.  But it was not the only factor.  Good political analysts are willing to look at multiple factors and causes and to discuss how they interact.  

    And perhaps you could explain why the Republicans used Bill Clinton in their ads if he wasn't a factor in persuading people to vote out their Democratic incumbent?

    •  good political analysts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Use empirical data like polling information and watching prior trends.  The religious right was ascendant in 1994 and though few observers saw it coming, in hindsight the evidence was there in 1992 and 1990.

      Further, one can look at the very high number of Democrats who decided not to run again in 1993 and 1994.  They saw the writing on the wall.

      The Clintons were of course some factor, if Bill had been riding at 65% approval I imagine the Democratic losses would have been less, but at worst he's just a proximate trigger, not the primary reason for the loss.

  •  sorry, but trying to absolve the DLC of their (0+ / 0-)

    guilt in the collapse of the Democratic Party just doesn't fly with me.

    policies do matter.

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:20:20 AM PST

  •  not "pointing out" (0+ / 0-)

    You're not "pointing out" anything.  You're presenting an analysis of the 1994 election that was not accepted then and is not accepted now by historians and political scientists who study it and write about it.

  •  Clinton didn't have much going for him in 1992 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    57% of people didn't vote for him.  We lost 9 seats in the House then, amidst HUGE churn, so there just wasn't a firm foundation.  Clinton didn't help with some of his actions, but he was on shaky ground at the get-go.  
  •  gun control also killed us (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but it was good we passed it

    "There is nothing wrong with America can't be cured by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

    by SensibleDemocrat on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 08:42:42 AM PST

  •  He did (0+ / 0-)

    Your view is way too narrow.  By pushing through NAFTA, thereby driving away Perot and Democratic blue collar voters, the turnout out of blue collar voters nosedived.  This allowed the nutjobs to have a disproporationate influence on the electorate.

    It's not a meme.  It's fact.

    If Hillary Clinton wins, the Democratic Party loses.

    by Paleo on Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 09:02:09 AM PST

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