There was a time when men were kind and their voices were soft and their words were inviting.
There is nothing in the sphere of politics more enthralling than a Bill Clinton media blitz. They usually happen once a year, around the time his foundation (Clinton Global Initiative) invites leaders from around the globe to an annual meeting where participants make specific commitments on solving some of the world’s most perplexing problems (this year’s meeting is all about how to create jobs in the United States). And every year Clinton proves himself to be the most skilled politician on the planet.
There was a time when love was blind and the world was a song and the song was exciting. There was a time it all went wrong.
No one can promote an event quite like Clinton—only he could even think of and run a foundation like CGI and get the type of attendants and results he gets every year. The great thing about a Clinton media blitz is, no matter what show he goes on, he is always asked about today’s problems and how he would fix them if he were still president. Once this question is asked, be prepared to feel nostalgic and start reminiscing about the good ol’ days…because they just don’t make them like Bill Clinton anymore.
I dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living.
Clinton can hold court on any subject thrown at him. You will never hear him stumble over words like our current president, make up words like our previous president, or fabricate “facts” like a few of the current Republican presidential candidates. You can tell he knows what he is talking about when he opens his mouth. He is able to talk about complicated subjects and in an uncomplicated way. He throws around figures and statistics like he is a walking encyclopedia. And he does all this with the type of charisma no politician aside from Ronald Reagan (who lacked the intelligence of Clinton—not a knock on Reagan, as nearly everyone lacks the intelligence of Clinton) has been able to portray in our lifetime.
I dreamed that love would never die. I dreamed that God would be forgiving.
Last year, around the opening of CGI’s annual meeting, Clinton went on “The Daily Show,” and after watching his appearance, you couldn’t help but say to yourself (whether you agree with his political views or not), “Holy shit! How come there is no one like Clinton 2012 currently in politics? You’re telling me that in the next election, I’m going to have to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? No wonder our country is going to hell in a hand basket.”
See for yourself:
Then I was young and unafraid, and dreams were made and used and wasted.
Remember when our country’s biggest crisis was the President of the United States getting a blow job from some young intern?
Yes, those were the good ol’ days….
There was no ransom to be paid…no song unsung, no wine untasted.
Americans would give Clinton a million blow jobs today if we could go back to the longest economic expansion in U.S. history: which created over 23 million new jobs (the most in history) and which had the lowest unemployment in a generation…the lowest crime rate in a generation…the smallest welfare rolls in a generation…the bottom 20% of earners watching their incomes increase (in terms of percentages) as much as that of the top 20%…the lowest poverty rate since the early 70s…the lowest teen birth rate in over half a century…the lowest infant mortality rate in American history…the largest three-year debt pay-down in American history (and we were on track to pay off the entire debt by 2009).
And believe it or not, we actually had a budget surplus toward the end of the Clinton years, as well as the lowest government spending in a half century…the lowest federal income tax burden in over 35 years…and a president who, despite his few personal failings, had a combination of charisma and intelligence this country has never seen before. And may never see again.
But the tigers come at night with their voices soft as thunder, as they tear your hope apart…as they turn your dreams to shame.
The times have, unfortunately, become a lot more serious—and a lot more complicated. These days it seems we are constantly in a state of crisis. We are no longer happily debating how we should spend a surplus in the federal budget. Instead, we are angrily debating things like the debt limit, health care, global warming, our presence in Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya, corporate tax rates, China’s threat as a world super power, whether true-blue American companies like GM should file for bankruptcy, OPEC and their stranglehold on gas prices, bailouts for too-big-to-fail banks, the value of a stimulus package, the purpose of the Federal Reserve…. Our list of disagreements and problems could go on for days. It’s astonishingly depressing.
But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.
The biggest problem we face in this country, however, is not something you will find in the above list. We lack leadership. Our politicians don’t have the ability to present reasonable, strong arguments to the American people anymore. It is much easier to just change your position on an issue than to defend it. (See Mitt Romney’s entire political career.)
I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living…
America is crying out for an iconoclastic, charismatic, and intelligent leader like Clinton. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton cannot move back to the White House. So this is the question, the challenge we now face: Is there anyone from any party with even a semblance of Clinton’s political and leadership skills? The only candidate who even comes close is Jon Huntsman, and he is unlikely to win his party’s nomination because, unlike Romney, Huntsman will not bow to the ideologues within his party and say anything they want to hear whether he believes the words he is mouthing or not.
…so different now from what it seemed.
If something doesn’t change in a major way, we are headed for an election in 2012 where, no matter the outcome, the results will have no real effect on our daily lives. If we want better leadership in Washington, it is up to us to demand better leaders. If we are unwilling to do so, the next decade is going to look a lot like the last—and nothing like the Clinton Era.
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.
Only time will tell if the American dream is killed in our lifetime.