Bubba and the Bride of Bubba
Update: Jim Hightower did a better and more pointed analysis of what bringing back Bubba means.
This is a pair who undoubtedly toasted the death of the New Deal at their wedding.
They were the New Democrats, you see, eager to shuffle off working people, especially those icky union people, who had been the backbone of the Democratic Party. Much better to hang around with the Robert Rubins of the world — you can spend your weekends in the Hamptons — rather than with the people who barbecue chicken and burgers and pop open a PBR. The Clintons were pioneers in moving up the food chain.
Yes, they yearned for a brave new world, run by the preening professionals who had all the answers, the “creatives.” It would be a meritocracy, where the professional cream would rise to the top, and anybody who worked hard and got the right (Ivy League) education could be the cream. If you didn’t (or even if you did), and couldn’t, well, somebody has to be the losers so we know the winners by contrast, right? There is a broad strain of Calvinism in there if you look for it.
Bubba began to identify the losers early through the ’94 crime bill and ’95 welfare reform. Hillary marched in lockstep with Bubba on this, but she has been understandably quiet about that out on the hustings recently. She also thought that the NAFTA was a great idea, but she has now found it politically expedient to disavow her prior and documented support of the TPP, at least until after the election.
Now, though, it is reported that Hillary wants to make Bill, in addition to First Guy, Mr. Fixit for the economy. Great. Just great.
Why not? It’s the same two-for-one, Francis-and-Claire argument we got before the ’92 election. This announcement by Hillary Clinton is probably the most revealing thing said to date by a usually tight-lipped, cautious and triangulating politician. She obviously think it will help in her race against Bernie Sanders. After all, the economy did pretty well in the ’90s. Right?
The Bubba avatar, however, has got some pretty big warts.
He was working on a deal with Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich to cut Social Security. But Bubba being Bubba, he decided to get a blow job instead; perhaps Monica Lewinsky served the nation as well as the president.
Bill Clinton also championed and got the elimination of the Glass Steagall Act, leaving banks once again free to forage for other financial companies with federally-insured deposits. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Well, you all know the answer to that.
Here are just a few words about what “the creatives” let us in for:
The dot-com bubble is the best example of this irrational exuberance. Internet startups that had no source of revenue or any kind of sensible business plan exploded. As in the past, investors collectively lost their minds. At the start of the new millennium and as Bubba’s tenure was drawing to a close], reality crashed the party; and, in the 2001-01 [I think the author meant 2000-01] crash, trillions of dollars in investor capital evaporated. Financial innovations also played a major role in the decade’s economic boom, though they would eventually lead to the 2007-08 financial crisis. Modern securitization flourished, and various derivative innovations—mortgage backed securities, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations—created an even bigger and more unstable speculative (and fraudulent) bubble than the dot-coms.
Obama supporters rightly point to the mess that he inherited from George W. Bush, but Bush got a dowry, too. (I am animated by wedding imagery today.)
If you hung around the financial creatives in the 90s, you’d often hear them talk about “creating value.” For the most part, this Clinton-class wizardry didn’t create any wealth; it often simply repackaged dodgy assets so they could be sold to unsuspecting investors.
Oh, and we must not forget Clinton’s deregulation of interstate banking, which plunged shivs into the hearts of local banks all over the country. It’s one of the reasons that the credit crisis at the end of the last decade was so extreme for small business; their local bankers were gone, or answered to somebody far away.
My friends, we need Bill Clinton as Mr. Fixit for the economy like we need a new hole in our heads.
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