Bill Clinton accepts responsibility for the recession.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
May 31 2009 4:46 PM

Bill Clinton's Classy Moment

The former president shows former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin how to accept responsibility for the recession.

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1.) The "they" Clinton refers to when discussing opposition to regulation of derivatives seems to be not Greenspan, Rubin and Summers but rather congressional Republicans. (It's hard to be certain because Clinton's phrasing is a little unclear.)

2.) In introducing the derivatives point, Clinton says, "I think Bob Rubin and Larry Summers and those guys have gotten a little bit of a bum rap on this lately." This is awfully generous, but if he, Clinton, deserves blame for not taking on the congressional Republicans who opposed regulating derivatives, then certainly Rubin and Summers deserve at least as much blame for actively discouraging Clinton from doing so, and most especially for blocking Born, a fellow Democrat and Clinton appointee, when she sought to do so.

In general, Clinton's mea culpa comes across as more reluctant and ambivalent in the raw transcript than it does in Baker's published magazine piece. Still, Clinton does accept responsibility for the recession to a far greater degree than Rubin ever has.]

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.