Clinton strives to secure a legacy

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted September 4, 2000

Ever since Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996 we have heard that he had been pre-occupied with his legacy. This has been especially true in the past few months when it has become a virtual fixation.

As time runs out on the Clinton Presidency, you will hear more and more television pieces on that Clinton legacy and it will occupy the front page of virtually every Sunday newspaper, for at least one week anyway, in the nation.

So what will the Clinton legacy be? Welfare reform? Prescription drug coverage for seniors? Peace in the Middle East? The definition of the word "is"?

Bill Clinton & Al GoreActually it is none of the above. The Clinton legacy, if he has one, will be getting Al Gore in the White House and a Democratic Congress. That is what the next couple of months will be about. Don't believe any of the pious rhetoric you hear to the contrary.

If Clinton gets Gore in the White House and a Democratic Congress, his place in history is secure. He won't have to worry about any legal issues henceforth. He won't have to concern himself with his image in history. He will be able to relax and enjoy life, knowing that Social Security will not be privatized. There will be no vouchers for elementary and secondary schools. Medical savings accounts will be in the ash-bin of history. In short, the welfare state will be preserved. That is what Bill Clinton has been about. He has vetoed every constructive bill passed by Congress during his tenure, except for welfare reform. He would have vetoed that too, except that his political consultant Dick Morris told him if he did he would lose the 1996 election. So he signed the bill and today there are 4 million less recipients on welfare then there were back then.

You will hear that Clinton wants this or that bill or this or that settlement as part of his legacy. In truth he only wants these things if they help bring about Gore and a Democratic Congress because only Gore and a Democratic Congress absolutely insure Clinton's legacy. If Bush is in the White House, he might appoint a Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia as Attorney General who could go after some of the terrible corruption in the Clinton years. That would insure that there would be no Clinton legacy. If Gore were elected but Republicans continued to control Congress, then they would push for some the proposals such as medical savings accounts and vouchers and privatization of Social Security. Gore just might compromise with some of them. There would go the Clinton legacy. Besides, if the GOP did keep control of Congress after all was said and done, who knows, they just might regain some nerve and just could use their investigative powers to go after Clinton and Gore.

No, the Clinton legacy is only safe with Al on Pennsylvania Avenue and Democrats occupying leadership positions in BOTH houses of Congress. That is what the end game will be about as Congress returns to Washington. Don't let anyone tell you anything to the contrary.

Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation.

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