Clinton agreed to welfare reform — over the objections of most liberals, including his own wife — because the Republicans forced him to and he'd have lost the 1996 election if he didn't. That was the beginning and the ending of Bill Clinton's fact-finding.
This favorite right-wing interpretation of Clinton's role in welfare reform is the same as the left-wing's favorite interpretation. In both, an unprincipled Clinton was simply reading the polls and selling out when he signed a Republican reform law in 1996. That's wrong (and lazy!).
1) Clinton had some experience with welfare reform in Arkansas;
2) His '92 campaign call to "end welfare as we know it" with a two-year time limit wasn't any more vague than, say, Bush's Social Security plan, and put the issue on the table way before it had to be put there;
3) Clinton clearly understood how changing welfare could help "break the culture of poverty and dependence" in the ghettos--those are his words from 1992;
4) Clinton's own two-years-and-out plan, when it was finally unveiled, was really a three-years-and-out plan--but it was still dramatically tougher than anything any president had proposed in decades;
5) After Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994, Clinton aides Bruce Reed and Rahm Emmanuel clearly wanted to sign a welfare reform bill and worked toward that end--the trouble was getting the Republicans to decide they wanted reform too, as opposed to an "issue" they could take into the 1996 campaign;
6) Clinton was far more receptive than most others on his staff to the Republicans' basic approach of returning the AFDC welfare program as a "block grant" to the states--he was a former governor and didn't share the traditional Democratic distrust of state executives. The objectionable parts of the bill, in his view, had to do mainly with side issues: immigrants, Medicare, and aid for the aged. That's why Clinton called it "a decent welfare bill wrapped in a sack of sh-t."
7) Even though she's characteristically opaque on the subject, there's a lot of evidence that Hillary made the same decision her husband did--to sign the Republican "block grant" bill, wrapping and all. Goldberg might talk to Doug Besharov of the Amercan Enterprise Institute about the little chat Besharov had with Hillary during the crucial period in 1996. ...
Friday, March 18, 2005
Has kf been conned? I can't tell if this is an early April Fool's joke. Please advise. ... P.S.: If it's not, the obvious point is that both versions in AP's example are filled with hack hype-cliches ("... tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners ... splattering blood and body parts ... the attack ... came as ... "--that's the regular lede without "imagery" and "narrative devices"). Version A just has a cubic foot of hype while Version B has a cubic yard. ... Coming soon: The Extra Cost Von Drehle Faux-Dowd "Color" Lede With Special Sauce! ... The Bumiller Condescension Option ... The J. Apple Avuncular Alternative (choice of "old Kennedy hand" source or "veteran Democratic adviser"). ... The Full Gannon! ... Attention writers: Easy weekend humor column here for anyone who wants it!. ... M ... M... Maureen? ... [via Mediabistro] 1:08 P.M. link
Thursday, March 17, 2005
MOMA/NPR update: I don't know who should own Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally" or whether that issue should be decided by U.S. or Austrian courts or whether the Museum of Modern Art is behaving well or badly in the case. But National Public Radio should be highly embarrassed that it apparently 'terminated' a reporter, David D'Arcy, for a story that, while clearly pitched against MOMA, was seemingly accurate and at least as fair as anything else you hear on NPR. NPR's ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, has now defended the network's pro-MOMA "clarification," while somehow skirting the D'Arcy removal, which is the crux of the controversy. That in turn prompted this lengthy and well-informed blowback from Randol Schoenberg of the anti-MOMA side. ...
Dvorkin's piece isn't as bad as Schoenberg says. It's worse! Dvorkin writes:
The NPR report implied that the painting was part of MoMA's permanent collection ....