Toughest job ever: fact-checking Bill Clinton

posted at 8:41 am on September 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Bill Clinton rescued the Democratic convention from a complete collapse last night with a strong — but far too long — nominating speech on behalf of Barack Obama.  Prior to his arrival, Democrats had embarrassed themselves by voting to disregard God and the long-established capital of a close ally, and then forcing the party’s leadership to blatantly override the clear rejection of that amendment.  Once again, abortion and contraception dominated the evening, this time all the way into the prime-time hour as Sandra Fluke’s speech inexplicably got shifted to 10 pm.  It’s as if Democrats not only are disregarding the priorities of voters in this economy, but want to lecture them about their priorities as well.  And if the final hour was bad, Chris Cillizza says the set-up hour before it was even worse:

The 9-10 pm [ET] hour: This hour, which should have been building to the Warren and Clinton speeches, was entirely forgettable — filled with overly long speeches by the president of the United Auto Workers and people negatively affected by Bain Capital.  Given the prominence of the hour, the content contained within it was decidedly disappointing.

Clinton, though, stuck to the biggest issues of the day: economy, jobs, health-care reform, and entitlements.  He made about the only argument that can be made for Obama, and the one that Obama’s self-assessed grade of “incomplete” suggests — that four years wasn’t enough to fix the huge problems created by the economic crisis:

Now, look. Here’s the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face. I get it. I know it. I’ve been there. A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again, and in a lot of places, housing prices have even began to pick up.

But too many people do not feel it yet. I had this same thing happen in 1994 and early ‘95. We could see that the policies were working, that the economy was growing, but most people didn’t feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996, the economy was roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. But the difference this time is purely in the circumstances. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me now. No president, no president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.

Within the Democratic Party, no one has the standing that Clinton does to make that argument.  That doesn’t make it true, however, nor does it mean that the current policies are working.  With median household income falling faster in Obama’s recovery than during the recession and the workforce near a 30-year low in population participation rates, we’re going in the wrong direction.  But as a defender of Obama, Clinton succeeded in making the best possible argument as believable as he could make it.

Of course, this depends on how much credibility one puts in Bill Clinton in the first place.  This was the only sitting President ever convicted of perjury while in office, after all, and his tendency to waggle his finger while telling a whopper resurfaced last night as well.  The Associated Press offered up a fact check that, while a little thin, hammered Clinton on some of his key arguments in the speech:

“For the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4 percent, for the first time in 50 years. So, are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are.”

THE FACTS: That’s wishful thinking at best. The nation’s total health care tab has been growing at historically low rates, but most experts attribute that to continued uncertainty over the economy, not to Obama’s health care law.

I found the continuing defenses of ObamaCare a little surprising.  Why keep bringing up something so unpopular at a national convention?  With that and the Abortion-Palooza, this has become a base-turnout convention, not one intended to convince anyone but true believers to vote for Obama.

The biggest hit came on Clinton’s claims about the economy:

CLINTON: “I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. … I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history.”

THE FACTS: Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008. …

Sure enough, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average both peaked in March 2000. The bursting of the high-tech bubble dragged down the economy and markets through the rest of the year. From September 2000 to January 2001, when Clinton left office, the Nasdaq dropped 46 percent. Even now, in 2012, the Nasdaq has not returned to its 2000 peak. By March 2001, the economy toppled into recession.

The AP surprisingly offered this reminder of Clinton’s role in the economic collapse, too, although the article makes no mention of the Community Reinvestment Act and the steps Clinton took to create an explosion in subsidized sub-prime lending:

Also, as president, Clinton supported the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law dating back to the Great Depression that separated banking from high-risk financial speculation. Robert Rubin, who had been Clinton’s first treasury secretary, helped broker the final deal on Capitol Hill that enabled the repeal legislation to pass. Some financial historians say the repeal of the law paved the way for banks to invest in risky investments like mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations that played a role in the 2008 financial meltdown.

With all of that said, though, Clinton provided perhaps the first argument for Obama on topics that concern voters in 2012 of this convention.  We’ll see how effective Clinton was, but it’s also questionable how many people stuck around through the debacle that preceded Clinton all day long to hear him.  I’m guessing that most of the audience were those same true believers to whom Democrats pandered for hours prior to his taking the stage.


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If you take the BLS number employed in January 2001 vs January 2009, the number is +6 million jobs.

But don’t let truth get in your way.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Clinton’s numbers have been fact-checked everywhere as being true. He only mentioned private-sector jobs so I the BLS numbers are useless there (and also I think your 6 million number is bunk, because when I checked it looked like it was 1 million). Either way, the Democrats are better at doing what the Republicans say they can do: create private sector jobs. So if that is what you want out of this election, Romney is not your guy.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 1:53 PM

The good news: Clinton’s arguments against Republicans are almost completely invalid.
The bad news: American voters have never been more stupid and they’ll believe and repeat as truth every word this slick turd said.

CrustyB on September 6, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Where are the lies? Please inform me. His stuff checks out.

http://factcheck.org/2012/09/our-clinton-nightmare/

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Name one pro-growth policy advanced by Barack Obama.

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Mitt’s already got a Bill Clinton ad up !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-21wrrmpxzE&feature=player_embedded

pambi on September 6, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Awesome!

workingclass artist on September 6, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Easiest job ever: debunking Paul Ryan’s speech. Required almost no research at all.

Constantine on September 6, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Easiest job ever: debunking Paul Ryan’s speech. Required almost no research at all.

Constantine on September 6, 2012 at 2:00 PM

So what is your excuse?

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Ed, this is supposed to be where you shine. Instead, you basically admit that Clinton’s speech was on the money. Almost an hour, and you come up with only two embellishments? No outright falsehoods like Ryan’s speech?

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Clinton’s numbers have been fact-checked everywhere as being true. He only mentioned private-sector jobs so I the BLS numbers are useless there (and also I think your 6 million number is bunk, because when I checked it looked like it was 1 million). Either way, the Democrats are better at doing what the Republicans say they can do: create private sector jobs. So if that is what you want out of this election, Romney is not your guy.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 1:53 PM

OK, so you admit you lied then. You said -600k

January 2009 – 142 million employed

January 2001 – 136 million employed

142-136 = 6 million

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Ed, this is supposed to be where you shine. Instead, you basically admit that Clinton’s speech was on the money. Almost an hour, and you come up with only two embellishments? No outright falsehoods like Ryan’s speech?

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

That olde serial rapist got your garbles goin eh comrade?

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 2:20 PM

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Et tu, Tom? So little to take issue with in that speech that you go right for the unfounded ad hominem attack? Sheesh, it’s like you guys aren’t even trying.

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Ed, this is supposed to be where you shine. Instead, you basically admit that Clinton’s speech was on the money. Almost an hour, and you come up with only two embellishments? No outright falsehoods like Ryan’s speech?

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Clinton’s speech was all about the omissions and clever working. If Ed doesn’t want to get into into it, I sure can.

Let’s start with ObamaCare- he says Ryan’s plan keeps the cuts. That’s true. But it has to, as the cuts are law. That’s how a budget works. But Ryan’s plan is to totally revamp Medicare, which will absolutely require cuts. It’s about $84 trillion in the hole.

ObamaCare raids Medicare to fund ObamaCare to the tune of almost $75 billion a year and does NOTHING to fundamentally change its downward spiral. It ACCELERATES it.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM

clever WORDING, I meant.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 2:26 PM

OK, so you admit you lied then. You said -600k

January 2009 – 142 million employed

January 2001 – 136 million employed

142-136 = 6 million

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 2:17 PM

You are obviously not understanding the difference between jobs and private sector jobs. I would think your party would know the difference.

Clinton’s numbers (which I am using) have been fact checked, they are good.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Clinton’s speech was all about the omissions and clever working. If Ed doesn’t want to get into into it, I sure can.

Let’s start with ObamaCare- he says Ryan’s plan keeps the cuts. That’s true. But it has to, as the cuts are law. That’s how a budget works. But Ryan’s plan is to totally revamp Medicare, which will absolutely require cuts. It’s about $84 trillion in the hole.

ObamaCare raids Medicare to fund ObamaCare to the tune of almost $75 billion a year and does NOTHING to fundamentally change its downward spiral. It ACCELERATES it.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Then why is it going to last until 2024 under Obamacare instead of 2016 under Romney/Ryan?

By the way, that statement has also been fact-checked and is good. You can check it out yourself. So, now who is the liar?

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Et tu, Tom? So little to take issue with in that speech that you go right for the unfounded ad hominem attack? Sheesh, it’s like you guys aren’t even trying.

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:24 PM

I would think a stalwart ethical and moral person like youself would be concerned about a guy who used his power as governor to have loose women brought to him for companionship.

I guess I was wrong about your character.

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Clinton came on too late…people have to go to work,they can not stay up that long to listen to that blowhard.

I read that audiences have been way down for both conventions this year.

Terrye on September 6, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Ed, this is supposed to be where you shine. Instead, you basically admit that Clinton’s speech was on the money. Almost an hour, and you come up with only two embellishments? No outright falsehoods like Ryan’s speech?

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

What outright falsehoods? The fact that Ryan told the unvarnished truth without feeling the need to cover for Obama in the process does not make him a liar.

I have heard this complaint from liberals and Democrats before and yet they have never been able to point out one single lie..their idea of a lie is that they felt Ryan implied something they did not like.

Terrye on September 6, 2012 at 2:39 PM

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Again, not a word about what was actually said.

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:39 PM

And I think you may have deliberately left out the part about GW Bush being at negative 600,000+ jobs. I’ll take the 50 year trend of better job creation, thank you. The policies of the Dems are better at creating jobs. The numbers are right there for everyone to see.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 1:31 PM

JFK cut marginal tax rates and the economy boomed. Clinton was held to a balanced budget by a Republican Congress (in addition to benefitting from the Reagan recover, the “peace dividend” from the end of the Cold War, and the explosion of the internet), and the economy boomed. Which of these policies is the Democrat Obama pursuing?

Trend? The line peaked with Clinton and goes south with Obama, as Clinton slyly indicated. Obama couldn’t even recover half the jobs lost under GWB, for a nation that requires job growth of 125,000-150,000 jobs a month just to match population growth. 125,000-150,000/month IN ADDITION TO the 18 million jobs needed to put the currently unemployed back to work. Obama isn’t even making a dent. Another four years of his record and the nation is irretrievably lost.

You guys still running against GWB? Think the 18 million unemployed care about him at all any more?

de rigueur on September 6, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Easiest job ever: debunking Paul Ryan’s speech. Required almost no research at all.

Constantine on September 6, 2012 at 2:00 PM

So, let’s hear it? That guy scares you people to death doesn’t he?

BTW, have you seen the video of Obama in Wisconsin promising those folks at that plant that he will retool their plant and keep it open another hundred years. Great stuff…I hope they put it in an ad.

Then you can tell us all what a lie it was.

Terrye on September 6, 2012 at 2:42 PM

And I think you may have deliberately left out the part about GW Bush being at negative 600,000+ jobs. I’ll take the 50 year trend of better job creation, thank you. The policies of the Dems are better at creating jobs. The numbers are right there for everyone to see.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 1:31 PM

That is pure nonsense…when Bush was president, the work force was larger, the unemployment was lower, incomes were rising and people could actually find work.

Just because you live in some fantasy world is no reason to expect the rest of us to live in one..

Terrye on September 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Hmm. I started Medicare in 2009. My supplemental insurance went up from about $100 per month then to $192 this year. Or it would have if I had not fired the company and bought another policy. That seems to be more than 4% to me. I guess I’ll get Bill Clinton to be my insurance agent.

billrowe on September 6, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Again, not a word about what was actually said.

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:39 PM

So we should listen to the words of an impeached liar?

WTF does that profit?

Put some ice on it comrade.

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Again, not a word about what was actually said.

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:39 PM

I see, so we are supposed to ignore the fact that Clinton is a lying womanizer.

Fine, but it does not change the fact that Bill Clinton made a lot of mistakes and a great deal of what was in his speech was propaganda.

Now liberals such as yourself claim that Ryan lied….but you do not actually tell us what the lies were..it is all conjecture about a lack of context…but the statements Ryan made are factual. That is more than can be said about Clinton. Ever.

Terrye on September 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM

1) Those numbers claiming job increases are suspect. (carter created 9 million jobs? Suuuuure he did.)
2) Clinton didn’t create any jobs. The GOP Congress did.
3) Clinton lucked into a good economy. It flourished in spite of him.
4) Lastly, those numbers don’t seem to take much of anything into account, especially the whys.
It’s no surprise the socialist party lovers are desperate to cling to them. They are made of straw, tho.

Hard Right on September 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Thank God for the NFL-last night they whitewashed Clinton. Tonight Obama.

MaiDee on September 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

1. The dot com boom was a fraud based on a lot of companies that cooked their books using “creative” accounting, as we found out after Clinton left office and Bush inherited the mess.

I don’t recall Bush whining about it. He just lowered taxes and moved on.

I believe the corporate dishonesty uncovered in the early 2000s reflected the character of the character at the top, Bill Clinton.

2. Bill Clinton and Obama blame Bush for the 2008 debacle, but fail to notice that the great, unsustainable housing bubble was fueled by Clinton era mortgage rush and the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates. Poor ole Bush is held responsible just because he was there.

billrowe on September 6, 2012 at 2:52 PM

You are obviously not understanding the difference between jobs and private sector jobs. I would think your party would know the difference.

Clinton’s numbers (which I am using) have been fact checked, they are good.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Private sector jobs are the only real jobs. Public sector jobs are jobs just sucking off the government teat. And who fills that government teat? Private sector.

Mirimichi on September 6, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Hard Right on September 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Fully agree. But math is hard enough for most of these guys. The “Democrats create more jobs” game is a little like the “Democrats start all the wars” game. History is never taken into account.

de rigueur on September 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

The thing that annoys me is listening to Bill Clinton give seminars on medicare or social security or health care reform…and yet when he was president he did not do anything constructive about any of these programs. Even in the 90s people were talking about high costs driving up the costs of entitlement programs..and yet Clinton did not do a damn thing about any of it.

He was too busy poll watching.

Terrye on September 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

the redneck Cary Grant

Mr. Arkadin on September 6, 2012 at 9:46 AM
A+++++

Del Dolemonte on September 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM

and mittens is The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion rolled into one!

Pragmatic on September 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I’d watch a blank screen before I’d watch the vicious mudslinging party of hate.

jqc1970 on September 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Clintonspeak: http://twitpic.com/arruco

The Zoo Keeper on September 6, 2012 at 3:31 PM

I’d watch a blank screen before I’d watch the vicious mudslinging party of hate.

jqc1970 on September 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Close. In the end, no one watched the Clinton speech anyway. Three times as many viewers preferred football: 7.5 million viewers on 2 network watching Clinton vs. 21.8 million viewers for the NFL Kick-Off Game on CBS.

To put it into perspective: 30 million viewers watched Romney’s acceptance speech.

de rigueur on September 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM

You are obviously not understanding the difference between jobs and private sector jobs. I would think your party would know the difference.

Clinton’s numbers (which I am using) have been fact checked, they are good.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM

All you are doing is denying the BLS numbers and being a partisan hack. And failing.

If you have any backing to your nonsense claims, post the link.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Then why is it going to last until 2024 under Obamacare instead of 2016 under Romney/Ryan?

By the way, that statement has also been fact-checked and is good. You can check it out yourself. So, now who is the liar?

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Prove it.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Hmm. I started Medicare in 2009. My supplemental insurance went up from about $100 per month then to $192 this year. Or it would have if I had not fired the company and bought another policy. That seems to be more than 4% to me. I guess I’ll get Bill Clinton to be my insurance agent.

billrowe on September 6, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Yes, because all averages are based on one person’s experience. Please take a statistics class sometime and educate yourself.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Yes, because all averages are based on one person’s experience. Please take a statistics class sometime and educate yourself.

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Non-responsive nonsense. Why do you even bother?

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Then why is it going to last until 2024 under Obamacare instead of 2016 under Romney/Ryan?

By the way, that statement has also been fact-checked and is good. You can check it out yourself. So, now who is the liar?

sob0728 on September 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM

From YOUR OWN link above:

Fact Check

Clinton claimed Medicare will “go broke in 2016″ if Romney is elected and repeals the federal health care law. Medicare will not “go broke,” but a part of it — the hospital insurance trust fund — would not be able to pay full benefits for hospital services. Physician and prescription drug benefits, financed separately out of general tax revenues and premiums, wouldn’t be affected.

As we explained in our Aug. 22 article, “A Campaign Full of Mediscare,” the Medicare hospital trust fund is on pace to be exhausted by 2024 — or by 2016 if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. But Medicare would still collect payroll taxes sufficient to pay most hospital bills that would come due. Medicare trustees estimate the fund could pay 87 percent of its costs. The funding gap would continue to grow, and by 2050 the fund could cover only 67 percent of its bills. That’s a serious situation to be sure, but it’s not as though Medicare itself would suddenly halt all payments.

You yes, you are the liar.

And recall Clinton also said Ryan keeps the Medicare cuts in place. Can’t have it both ways.

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 4:20 PM

This isn’t Clinton’s fault, but worth mentioning:

ABC: Steelworker feaatured at DNC never worked for Bain or GST Steel

Think Team Obama cared?

Chuck Schick on September 6, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Et tu, Tom? So little to take issue with in that speech that you go right for the unfounded ad hominem attack? Sheesh, it’s like you guys aren’t even trying.

ernesto on September 6, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Unfounded ad hominem attack? You shameless putz, molesting women who aren’t his wife is what Bill Clinton is KNOWN FOR. He’s one of the biggest disgraces the White House has ever seen and if there was any justice in the world he’d have given his speech from inside of a jail cell.

This is how lib politicians get away with crap, folks. Their brainwashed followers just go, “Nope, didn’t happen!” no matter how many stained blue dresses you throw at them.

R. Waher on September 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

“Ed, you’re giving the guy way too much credit for being able to sway opinions. Here’s why.
I’ve been a staunch Clinton supporter for twenty-five years, even after abandoning the Democrat party. If anyone could
have convinced me that Barack Obama isn’t as bad as I think he is, it was Bill Clinton. Last night, for the first time in my life, I walked out on him.
There was no magic in that speech.”

creeper on September 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Twenty-five years later you are an adult.

burt on September 6, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Unfounded ad hominem attack? You shameless putz, molesting women who aren’t his wife is what Bill Clinton is KNOWN FOR. He’s one of the biggest disgraces the White House has ever seen and if there was any justice in the world he’d have given his speech from inside of a jail cell.

This is how lib politicians get away with crap, folks. Their brainwashed followers just go, “Nope, didn’t happen!” no matter how many stained blue dresses you throw at them.

R. Waher on September 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Took a little while, but I got comrade ernesto to admit that he doesnt care about integrity or character, just the D after the name.

tom daschle concerned on September 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Fact-Checking Bill Clinton??

Well that depends on what “fact” is fact

Jimbobby on September 6, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Presented without commentary:

Whitewater
Troopergate
Gennifer Flowers
Juanita Broderick
Paula Jones
Zoe Baird
Kathleen Willey
WH Travel Office
FBI Files
Vincent Foster
Web Hubbel
Janet Reno
Jorge Cabrera
Lippo Group
Buddhist Temple
Johnny Chung
Targeted IRS Audits
Monica Lewinsky
MilTech to Red China
Community Reinvestment Act
Wag the Dog I
Wag the Dog II
Wag the Dog III
Jamie Gorelick
Susan McDougal
Henry Cisneros
Marc Rich
Carlos Vignali
Almon Braswell
Hugh Rodham
Roger Clinton
Impeachment
Civil Conviction
Fined and disbarred
White House vandalization

Freelancer on September 7, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Listen to me now. No president, no president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.

I didn’t watch Clinton’s speech, but I can just see him saying this and how he must have said it. Kind of like when he said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski.

Sterling Holobyte on September 7, 2012 at 12:07 PM

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