Tony Blankley re-writes history

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Townhall columnist Tony Blankley, a top aide to House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, completely misrepresents that era:

Bill Clinton, of course, is famous for triangulating between the Republicans and the Democrats, moving to the center/right, signing the Republican welfare reform bill (which he had twice vetoed before the election of 1994, when the GOP thumpingly took back the House and Senate), agreed to the Republican-proposed balanced budget (which he steadfastly opposed before the election), proclaimed that the era of big government was over and, in his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, bragged about signing into law 14 items that had been in the Republican "Contract with America."

Bill Clinton did not veto welfare reform before the 1994 election. Didn't happen. In fact, he didn't veto anything before the 1994 election: The first veto of his presidency came in June of 1995. Clinton vetoed GOP welfare reform proposals in late 1995 and early 1996, after which he built up a 20-point lead over Bob Dole before signing a welfare package in August 1996. The difference between Tony Blankley's completely false history and the reality of what happened is not a trivial matter of misremembered dates: It fundamentally undercuts Blankley's point.

Nor did Clinton oppose a Republican-proposed balanced budget prior to the 1994 election, as Blankely suggests -- in part because there was no such budget. (Republicans did produce alternative budgets in 1993 and 1994 but neither was balanced.) In fact, the Republicans -- every one of them -- opposed Clinton's deficit-reducing 1993 budget. In the winter of 1995-96, Clinton vetoed the Republican budget, again undermining Blankley's portrayal of Clinton as quickly caving to GOP demands after the 1994 election.

Finally, I have no idea what Blankley thinks is the basis for claiming that Clinton "bragged" in his 1996 convention speech about "signing into law 14 items that had been in the Republican 'Contract with America.'" That contract contained only 10 bills -- and wasn't mentioned in Clinton's speech. More broadly, the suggestion that the speech was some conservative capitulation to the Republicans is ludicrous. In it, Clinton bragged about the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban and a minimum-wage increase -- none of which was popular with Republicans. He excoriated Republicans for producing a budget that contained "cuts that devastate education for our children, that pollute our environment, that end the guarantee of health care for those who are served under Medicaid, that end our duty or violate our duty to our parents through Medicare." He blasted the GOP's "risky $550 billion tax scheme that will force them to ask for even bigger cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment than they passed and I vetoed last year." And so on.

I understand why conservatives like Blankley and Andrew Malcolm want to pretend that Bill Clinton governed like an arch-conservative: He had considerably more success than the most recent president who was actually conservative. But it would be nice if they used some examples that are, you know, true.

Tony Blankley, Andrew Malcolm
Town Hall
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