Time’s Stengel to Bill Clinton: Why aren’t you a Tea Party hero?

posted at 7:04 pm on November 11, 2011 by Tina Korbe

A logical question, right? After all, Bill Clinton presided over a balanced budget and cut the rate of the growth of government. (Note: Cutting the rate of growth is still not shrinking the government.)

Clinton was more than willing to roll with the question, that’s for sure, responding with this:

“I thought I should have been their favorite politician.” …

“I think because I didn’t do it according to the ideology,” he added. “I raised taxes and cut spending. I did it with a mix of policies that also left us money to invest in our future and in our quality of life. I think that’s really important. There are some things that the government has to do because the private sector does not have the capacity to advance the public interest in that way.”

Yes, that’s it. Tea Partiers have failed to give Clinton his due because he took a — cue one of Obama’s favorite phrases — balanced approach.

Or, could it be that Clinton’s fiscal responsibility was forced upon him by, say, a Republican Congress? That’s the position taken by … Wolf Blitzer.

On CNN Thursday, Blitzer challenged both Stengel’s question and Clinton’s answer:

“What he didn’t say to you is that at the time, when he balanced the budget and saw surpluses, he did it in part because of enormous pressure he was under from the Republican majority in Congress,” Blitzer noted on Thursday’s The Situation Room. Stengel did acknowledge that fact.

Good to see Mr. Blitzer setting the record straight.

Incidentally, this also serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of Congress. If the GOP is ultimately saddled with a RINO nominee, but wins the White House — and conservatives take back the Senate and retain the House — important reforms, from Obamacare repeal to regulatory rollback, will still be signed into law. Similarly, if Obama is reelected, but conservatives win Congress, he’ll be unable to inflict much damage. The presidential election might be the most exciting to follow — and presidents might ultimately bear blame and receive credit for whatever happens during their administrations — but the machinations of Congress often matter most.


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