The IWF’s Carrie L. Lukas visited the just-opened Clinton Library in Little Rock, Ark., over Thanksgiving, and she reports (on our home page) that it’s more a partisan political Bill-board than an archive for disinterested scholars researching the 90s. For one strange thing, there’s the library’s boxcar-like ultra-moderno appearance: it looks like someone almost drove something over a cliff. As Carrie writes, the in-laws she was visiting told her the William J. Clinton Presidential Center looked to them “like a double-wide trailer parked on the Arkansas River.”
Then there’s the library itself, which as Carrie reports, hides the research materials downstairs somewhere while moving the supposed triumphs of Bill’s eight years in the White House to front and center. She writes:
“The exhibits tell a story of the 1990s that is willfully ignorant of the events of 2000 and beyond. Like a time capsule, the library celebrates this period of ‘unprecedented economic prosperity,’ oblivious to the bursting of the stock market bubble and the corporate scandals that had brewed during the decade and would soon boil over into an economic crisis of confidence.
“The museum’s designers have taken into account some current events in order to better position President Clinton’s legacy. A section dedicated to the battle against terrorism leaves visitors with a clear impression that the Clinton Administration had recognized the looming threat and fought valiantly against it. But exhibits lauding great strides in the Middle East peace process under Clinton ignore the reality that somehow, in spite of these ‘triumphs,’ the region remains mired in bloody conflict.”
Then, as Carrie reports, the library exhibits get downright partisan, with nasty digs at the Republicans whom Clinton inadvertently swept into Congressional power by means of other “unprecedented” presidential actions such as Lani Guinier and the Hillarycare health plan. Carrie reports:
“I admit that a presidential library can be forgiven for presenting an overly rosy picture of the legacy and accomplishments of its namesake. Yet I wasn’t prepared for the petty, blisteringly partisan depiction of the President’s adversaries. For example, one display case entitled ‘The Fight for Power’ offered this summary of the decade’s political history:
“‘The 1990s were a decade of intense partisanship, with a growing ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans. It had been building for decades as the parties fought over civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, and other issues, and as conservative Republicans gained increasing control over the party’s policies and politics.
“‘From the start of the Clinton presidency, the administration’s opponents waged an unprecedented fight for power. Seeking to steer America sharply to the right, Republican leaders pursued a radical agenda through radical means. They used new tools and tactics — lawsuits, investigations, new partisan media, front groups, a secret slush fund, and deeply divisive rhetoric — in their battle for political supremacy.'”
And the library has this to say (Carrie writes) about the Republican reaction to still other “unprecented” activities indulged in by Bill in the Oval Office with one Monica Lewinsky:
“Another display was titled ‘Politics of Personal Destruction’ and the text included a helpful highlight of the words ‘character assassination.’ The simplistic storyline is worthy of a child’s morality tale: ‘The administration believed that America should be a leading force for peace and prosperity in the world, while Congressional Republicans called for America to retreat from the world. The administration prevailed.'”
Well, yes, Bill beat the impeachment rap. Interesting that you can preside over unprecedented prosperity and still be a victim.