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

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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."

"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)

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.

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.

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