The economy? They worked hand in hand to turn it around. Bosnia? She braved sniper fire to bring peace to that troubled land. Northern Ireland? The first couple took turns pushing for peace, negotiating and catalyzing the process. Welfare reform? They both backed it (even though she didn’t). Balancing the budget? Their joint achievement.
When Hillary wants to wrap herself in Bill’s record, she does so without blushing. But when she needs to rewrite her role, she figures she’ll get away with it.
Hillary’s attempts to create a legacy of opposing free trade repudiate the core of the Clinton administration’s economic and foreign policy. President Clinton took office at a time of rising global protectionism, spurred then as now by a recession. Instead of kowtowing to that protectionism in order to win votes, he defied it and initiated a triple play that left free trade enshrined as the world’s policy.
First, he passed NAFTA, which the first President Bush had been unable to do. Then, armed with the threat of a source of low-cost goods from Mexico, he forced the Pacific Rim countries to cut their trade barriers. Finally, having made his deal in the East, he forced Western Europe to give way in the GATT negotiations and create the global World Trade Organization system.
Bill Clinton was the father of global free trade, even if good-cop Hillary chooses, after a decade and a half of silence, to repudiate that legacy.