The Big Dog Backs Down

Steve wrote here and Paul here about Bill Clinton’s standing up to Black Lives Matters bullies who tried to disrupt his speech yesterday. It was classic Big Dog: Clinton effectively put the unschooled demonstrators in their place, and taught them a history lesson. Why were strict criminal penalties, e.g. for crack cocaine, enacted during his administration? Because drugs and crime were ravaging the black community, and African-American leaders properly demanded a crackdown.

Black Lives Matter is an unpopular movement, supported by only a small minority of Americans. It is repellent to far more, especially because of its refusal to admit that all lives matter. Beyond that, disruptive protesters in general are held in ill repute by a large majority of Americans. So Bill Clinton’s putting the protesters in their place was approved of by most.

But not, apparently, by those who counted. Left-wing web sites like Jezebel and Salon criticized him, as did some black leaders. That was all it took. No matter that history and logic are on his side, even the Big Dog can’t get in the way of the Democratic Party’s need to kowtow to one of its key constituents.

So today, Bill more or less apologized. The New York Times reports:

Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that he regretted drowning out the chants of black protesters at a rally in Philadelphia the day before, when he issued an aggressive defense of his administration’s impact on black families. …

“I know those young people yesterday were just trying to get good television,” Mr. Clinton said Friday of the Black Lives Matter protesters who had accused him and Hillary Clinton of supporting policies that devastated black communities. “But that doesn’t mean that I was most effective in answering it.”

Actually, he was very effective in answering the ill-informed demonstrators’ criticisms of his administration, but perhaps not so effective in bowing to the irresistible political winds of the day. By today, he was standing on a narrow ledge, almost apologizing–but not quite:

By Friday, Mr. Clinton said, “I almost want to apologize.”

This is a sad story, as the few good initiatives of the Democratic Party over the last 25 years are now being repudiated, not by Republicans, but by Democrats. And the reversal is proceeding in a peculiarly mindless way. Thus, the Times reports, apparently without irony:

He remains widely popular and Mrs. Clinton often talks about his economic achievements. “When he was president, 23 million new jobs, incomes went up for everybody, not just folks at the top,” she said on Sunday.

But other parts of Mr. Clinton’s record, including his support for global trade deals, deficit reduction and deregulation of Wall Street, have haunted Mrs. Clinton, as she confronts a challenge from the left.

Apparently Democrats are not astute enough to understand that these elements of Clinton’s record may be linked.

All in all, it is a sad come-down for the former president. He was the only successful Democratic president since Harry Truman, or, if you want to be sentimental, John Kennedy. But now his own party rates a bunch of ignorant, jeering street thugs more highly than they do their most successful leader of the last 50 years or more. It is a sad spectacle.