I feel sorry for Matt Bai. It was just three years ago that he sighed over the wasteland of the Clinton era and pondered aloud, what was it all for?
Even without the allusions to the old days, his speech seemed strangely reminiscent of that first campaign, and not necessarily in a good way. Listening to him talk, I found it hard not to wonder why so many of the challenges facing the next president were almost identical to those he vowed to address in 1992. Why, after Clinton’s two terms in office, were we still thinking about tomorrow? In some areas, most notably health care, Clinton tried gamely to leave behind lasting change, and he failed. In many more areas, though, the progress that was made under Clinton — almost 23 million new jobs, reductions in poverty, lower crime and higher wages — had been reversed or wiped away entirely in a remarkably short time. Clinton’s presidency seems now to have been oddly ephemeral, his record etched in chalk and left out in the rain.
Yeah, what’s up with that? Why does America seem to be forever spinning its wheels, and why has politics been reduced to a series of empty promises and arguments about abortion and gay marriage?
Apparently, Matt has been asking this question for three years because he has yet to find an answer.