Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama is not Clinton

There's an interesting article in New York magazine about what an Obama (or McCain) administration faces, well-worth the read. But I do take issue with this comparison that I've seen time and time again:

It requires no prodigious feat of memory, of course, to see how this dream could come a cropper. Back in 1993, Bill Clinton surfed into Washington on a similar wave of enthusiasm and expectation. Democrats then, too, controlled both the upper and lower chambers on Capitol Hill. The party’s agenda was bold, ambitious, far-reaching. And then everything fell to pieces. In something like a heartbeat, Clinton’s reputation as a Third Way centrist was reduced to rubble. The degree of Democratic political malpractice was so severe that it enabled the GOP, in 1994, to snatch the reins of the House and Senate simultaneously for the first time in four decades.

First, Clinton did not have a similar wave of enthusiasm -- yes, he garned a lot of electoral votes, but only because Perot voters made up almost 20% of the electorate. Clinton received 43% of the vote, which is less than McCain is going to win.

Second, and I'll need some older folks to back me up on this (I was 14 in 1992), but the mood of the country is far more eggy now than it was in 1992. I'd think that if there were ever a time for a more progressive agenda to get passed, it would be in a time of crisis, rather than when things are all swell -- the New Deal, for example.

Third, yeah, Clinton overreached in his first two years in office. But do the temperments of Clinton and Obama seem even remotely similar? Obama is patient, methodical, and probably most important, not too full of himself; Clinton, on the other hand, was an egomaniac who screwed around with women -- a reckless personality.