Leaving Lima

I’ve been in Lima over the weekend for a family wedding and am about to board the plane for an overnight flight home. I was intrigued by Peter Baker’s long New York Times Magazine piece “The Mellowing of William Jefferson Clinton,” which opens with Clinton shopping in Lima for gifts to give “his wife and the women on his staff back home.”

Baker reports that Clinton also enjoys picking out gifts for the wives and girlfriends of his friends as well. Apparently sufficient time has elapsed since Clinton’s departure from office that Baker can report all this without even arching his keyboard’s eyebrow. After his shopping expedition, Clinton heads to dinner at the same (beautiful) restaurant where we attended the pre-wedding dinner on Friday night.

I found Baker’s discussion of Clinton’s good works in Peru and Colombia of special interest. There are many good works to be done in South America and it is impressive that Clinton is doing some of them. I don’t think he could do anything more worthwhile, however, than promoting the protection of property rights within South American countries and the liberalization of trade between them and the United States. The United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement was implemented earlier this year, but Democrats killed the comparable agreement with Colombia last year.

Jay Nordlinger took note of the Times article on Clinton in a recent Impromptus. Jay notes that there are many things to say about the article but confines himself to just one. He quotes Baker:

Clinton insisted he never would have let the housing bubble grow into the problem it became (never mind the high-technology bubble that burst on his watch) and would have stepped in if he were president to prevent the free fall. “When anybody asks me that,” he told me, “I ask them, I look at them and ask them: ‘Do you think this would have happened if we had been there? Look me in the face and say yes.’ I haven’t found any takers yet.”

Jay comments: “Given the people he hangs with and his bullying demeanor — I imagine that is true. He’ll die in his own arms, this outsize self-lover.” It’s hard to top that.

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