Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"When [Bill] Clinton took office, Democratic governors outnumbered their GOP counterparts, 30–18—and when he left office, it was 30–18 the other way," Naureckas writes. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

At NYT, Fantasy of Bill Clinton's Centrism Saving the Dems Never Gets Old

"The Times has been telling this same story for years, always with the same thrilling leaps of logic."

Gather round, boys and girls! The New York Times has a fairy tale it wants to tell you—about the magical land of Centrism and how it needs to be saved from the sinister Lefties….

Oh, you’ve heard this story before? Yes, it’s true—the Times has been telling this same story for years, always with the same thrilling leaps of logic (Extra! Update, 6/04; Extra!, 7–8/06; FAIR.org, 1/11/11, 5/27/15, 5/23/16).

This time (New York Times op-ed, 7/6/17), it’s told by Mark Penn—identified as a “pollster and senior adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton,” not as a PR consultant for corporations like Microsoft, Merck, Verizon, BP and McDonald’s—and Andrew Stein, identified as a “former Manhattan borough president and New York City Council president,” rather than as a Trump supporter and convicted tax cheat.

Shh! They’re coming to the good part now:

After years of leftward drift by the Democrats culminated in Republican control of the House under Speaker Newt Gingrich, President Bill Clinton moved the party back to the center in 1995 by supporting a balanced budget, welfare reform, a crime bill that called for providing 100,000 new police officers and a step-by-step approach to broadening healthcare. Mr. Clinton won a resounding re-election victory in 1996 and Democrats were back.

The Democrats were back! It’s true that Bill Clinton won re-election in 1996—with 49 percent of the vote in a three-way race—but Democrats, in the real world, lost the House in 1994 as a result of Clinton’s right-leaning policies, particularly NAFTA, and Republicans held it for the next 12 years. Republicans took back the Senate in 1994 and controlled it for the remainder of Clinton’s administration, with the Democrats never having more than 50 seats until 2009. When Clinton took office, Democratic governors outnumbered their GOP counterparts, 30–18—and when he left office, it was 30–18 the other way.

If that’s coming back, I’d hate to see staying away.


© 2021 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Jim Naureckas

Jim Naureckas

Jim Naureckas is editor of EXTRA! Magazine at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). He is the co-author of  "Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error," and co-editor of The FAIR Reader. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo