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Bill Clinton the Horrible

by | Mar 5, 2022

If someone has done a full and honest assessment of Bill Clinton’s presidency, I would really like to see it. It is stunning how many ills Clinton’s two terms in office inflicted, directly or indirectly, on the American people and the world. Some of the worst stuff happened after he left office, but make no mistake: he prepared the way.

Thus it is no exaggeration to say that Clinton helped make the 21st century, in its most horrible respects, what it is.

By my casual accounting, Clinton strengthened the intrusive national-“security” state, specifically regarding “domestic terrorism” (signing the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which included limiting the federal power of habeas corpus); accerlated the mass-imprisonment state and expanded by 50 the list of federal crimes carrying the death penalty (by signing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994); paved the way for the 2008 Great Recession and costly bank bailouts through his HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo’s fevered promotion of subprime mortgages; set the stage for 9/11 and mass surveillance by the NSA with his bombing of Iraq, continued starving of Iraqi kids, support for Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians, and bombing raids in Afghanistan and Sudan (destroying a pharmaceutical factory in the latter) after attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa; and sowed the ground for Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in 2000 and the future Russia-Ukraine war by starting the expansion of NATO years after the Soviet Union had disappeared, leading NATO forces in the bombing and occupation of Russia ally Serbia, and promoting by force the secession of Kosovo from Serbia. Clinton also facilitated the looting of Russia on behalf of Western interests and Russian oligarchs.

I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list.

So Bill Clinton, who lives the good life as a prestigious figure worldwide, gave us a fortified carceral and death-penalty state, the housing-market collapse and bank-bailout state, 9/11 and the “war on terror”/mass surveillance state, and the new cold war with Russia. That is quite an achievement for one president. How can we thank him?

Maybe it’s a good thing his co-president didn’t get elected in 2016.

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and a contributing editor at He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies; former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education; and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

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