Former President Bill Clinton is making headlines again, this time touting his liberal prescriptions to fix the economy. Those remedies are laid out his new book Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. The news media is doing their part to promote Clinton's work and his economic legacy, portraying him as the economic savior of America.
This should come as no surprise, since Clinton is still beloved by liberal journalists. New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani called Clinton's book "a lucid one-man rebuttal of the Tea Party's anti-government agenda." Kakutani also summarized Clinton's plan, saying "Mr. Clinton serves up a succinct common-sense argument, why both spending cuts and increased tax revenues are necessary for addressing the debt problem."
Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angles Times touted the book as "a rallying cry for Americans to see beyond partisan politics" and "a blueprint for a return to prosperity."
At times, the adulation of Clinton reached absurd proportions. On Nov. 7, NBC's Ann Curry gushed "thank you for caring so much about America to write this book."
Clinton's book provides reliably liberal solutions for the economy, attacking the Tea Party's suspicion of government and advocating tax increases on the wealthy. The book mildly criticized President Obama for failing to adopt more liberal policies on the debt ceiling and taxes. (Clinton later backed off his criticism of Obama on the debt ceiling.)
Media praise for Back to Work is the latest installment of the narrative that Clinton was the sole reason for the prosperity of the 1990s, while Bush destroyed a thriving economy. In 1996, former president of NBC News Michael Gartner praised Clinton in a USA Today op-ed saying: "The country has been in a controlled boom ever since he bludgeoned through by one vote his first economic package."
In 2000, then-CBS anchor Dan Rather told Al Gore: "You've been part of an administration that one can argue has provided over the greatest economic, sustained economic boom in the history of the country." In 2004, the MRC's Business & Media Institute (called the Free Market Project at the time) found that the media spun Clinton's economic numbers positively, even as they blasted similar economic data under Bush.
In reality, as John Berthoud wrote in 1997 when he was vice president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Foundation, Clinton was fortunate enough to be president when the Internet boom of the 1990s took place, and benefited from the effects of the end of the Cold War and the defeat of his health care package. In 2010, George Melloan of the Wall Street Journal also pointed out Bill Clinton's role in creating the housing bubble that instigated the 2008 economic crisis.
But for the left, the thought that Clinton could have harmed to the economy is veritable heresy. Due to their willful economic ignorance, they perpetuate the fantasy that Bill Clinton was the architect of 1990s prosperity.