The former President got into trouble this week when he claimed while stumping for his wife that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq "all along." Critics pounced from across the political spectrum, since this was obviously untrue. I felt it to be untrue, but I've found proving it a frustrating experience. The critics have dug up plenty of evidence, but not the piece I most distinctly remember. I have a strong recollection of reading an article in the Weekly Standard back in the fall of 2003 that described Clinton lecturing an Arab group and telling them that, had he been President at the time, he would have done the same thing as Bush. Unfortunately, to look up anything from the Standard online, you have to subscribe to the magazine, which I no longer do. Worse, I've tried to Google similar accounts of this encounter but have come up dry. It looks like I'll have to dig through some hard copies of the Standard in order to back up my memory.
Yes, I subscribed to the Weekly Standard, the head neocon weekly, for about two years. I signed up during a period when I wanted as much diversity of opinion or ideology as possible and was also getting The Nation and The New Republic on a weekly basis. I gave up on the Standard because their renewal rate was too high and because I no longer found the magazine's articles provocative in the good way of challenging my preconceptions. Instead, its stubborn fealty to Bush and his war merely provoked me in the ordinary way of making me want to toss the typical issue into the garbage. I eventually replaced it with The American Conservative, which is probably the most consistently challenging journal available. This leaves me without a neocon outlet unless you count The New Republic on Middle East affairs, but I don't regret the loss. Over time I also gave up on leftist journals like Z Magazine and The Progressive because their ideologies and prejudices didn't seem to reflect reality for me, while I still get In These Times, which is about as far left as I go in my magazine reading.
Anyway, people want to make something of Mr. Clinton's apparent lie as if it reflected on Senator Clinton and her campaign for the Presidency. Is that fair? I'm afraid it is. If you accept that the first Clinton regime was a "two-for-one" deal that gave the President's wife crucial experience and exempts her from "on-the-job training," then you must expect that a second regime will work the same way. In other words, Bill Clinton will inevitably be a powerful and influential advisor to his wife even though the role of First Gentleman would entitle him to no power whatsoever. Catching the likely court favorite in a desperate crowd-pleasing lie is evidence against the character of the man today and the advice he might offer tomorrow. If Senator Clinton didn't give you reasons enough to resist her nomination (if you're a Democrat, that is), her husband's record should put you over the top.