The Bubba Show

Bill Clinton is back in the news, where he always seems happiest, and this time it’s because he’s been invited to play a “leading role” in the upcoming Democratic convention.

The leading role at party’s convention is traditionally played by the party’s nominee, but the Democrats apparently felt they needed somebody with more box office appeal. Given the problems that have already plagued the show, which has been shortened to a three day run, seen the cancellation of an event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to fund-raising problems, angered union bosses because of its location in a right-to-work state, and annoyed the party’s sizeable anti-capitalist wing with an event scheduled to be held in the embarrassingly named Bank of America Stadium, it is not surprising that the producers felt the need to call in a guest star. Many Democratic office-holders have already announced that they’ll be skipping the convention, and the party’s leader in the House of Representatives has urged the rest of them to do so as well, so the organizers were no doubt delighted to find a still-popular Democrat who isn’t running for anything.

Why Clinton remains popular is something of a mystery. His many fans recall the Clinton era as a time of peace and prosperity, but the peace was a result of the successful conclusion of a Cold War he had declined to help fight, the prosperity was largely brought about by his predecessors and the Republican congress that his first two years had created, and during his time in office he did much to undermine both. By neglecting the provocations of the World Trade Center bombing attempt, the bombing of American embassies in Africa, and numerous other terror attacks, he left the country vulnerable to the terror attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. He also started the insane subprime lending practices that created a housing boom during his administration but later led directly to the financial crisis that is still crippling the American economy, and those of a liberal bent who prefer to blame the present mess on the repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act should recall that it happened during the Clinton years. None of it hit the fan while Clinton was in office, a testimony to his undeniably good timing, but as the great economist Frédéric Bastiat once wrote, “it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa.”

There were also the tawdry sexual shenanigans, of course, which tarnished the American image in all the but most fashionably enlightened corners of the world. After all these years the Egyptian rabble are still using Clinton’s escapades to taunt his wife as she attempts to serve as Secretary of State.

Still, many people seem to love the guy. Although he’s occasionally been a pest to the Obama campaign, defending Romney’s time with Bain Capitol and warning against tax hikes and such, the Democrats seem to trust him to stick to the script during the convention. They expect that Clinton will evoke happy memories of a more carefree era of economic expansion, but he could also serve as a reminder that days seem long ago, far away, and unlikely to return any time soon without a change of direction.

— Bud Norman

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