Conservatives will apparently buy any book that says Bill Clinton was evil. Think that means they'll buy the forthcoming book by Joseph Stiglitz, The Roaring Nineties? John Cassidy talks about it in this week's New Yorker.
Stiglitz writes as something of an insider: from 1993 to 1995, he was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers; from 1995 to 1997, he was its chairman. At the time, he was not known to have voiced serious concerns, but now he argues that many of the problems afflicting the country date back to the Clinton Administration. “Americans should face up to the fact that in the very boom were planted some of the seeds of destruction, seeds which would not yield their noxious fruits for several years,” Stiglitz writes. Accounting standards were allowed to slacken, deregulation was mindlessly pursued, and corporate greed indulged. In short, he says, “we were too swept up by the deregulation, pro-business mantra.”
... It was the Clinton Administration, Stiglitz reminds us, that deregulated the two sectors at the center of the boom-bust cycle: telecommunications and finance. It was the Clinton Administration that shifted tax policy in a regressive direction, by cutting the capital-gains tax in 1997. And it was the Clinton Administration that stood idly by as corporate executives exploited captive boards and lax accounting standards to enrich themselves beyond all economic justification.
This is going to be a tough one for conservatives. If they pass up the book, they'll miss a chance to wallow in Clinton-bashing -- which for many of them would be as unthinkable as a junkie passing up a score. But if they embrace the book, they're embracing a critique of their favorite economic patent medicines -- incessant deregulation, tax cuts for the well-to-do, and the cosseting of tycoons.
Me, I have no problem with criticism of Clinton's decision to embrace right-wing snake oil. It used to make me crazy when Clinton failed to articulate the arguments for more progressive policies, while Gingrich and right-wing chat-show blowhards were out there day after day, laying out their case and thus dictating the terms of the debate -- after which Clinton would "accept the inevitable," compromising with the Gingrichoids once again. Blame Clinton? For often being a crypto-Republican, sure, why not?