Clinton and the Left

Clinton and the Left

National Public Radio wrapped up its presidential campaign coverage in November with a piece on the Clinton waffle, that is, the candidate’s habit of slipping from side to side on disputed issues. Listeners heard journalist Sam Donaldson ask Clinton if he supported federal legislation to prohibit right-to-work laws at the state level. “I support the existing law,” Clinton replied, “but if Congress sends me new legislation, I’ll sign it.” Said Donaldson, “That’s not what I asked. Do you support such legislation?” Said Clinton, “I’ll sign it.” Donaldson: “I asked if you support it!” “I’ll sign it!” “Do you support it?!” And so on.

When the report ended, I speculated on how most leftists would have reacted to it. They’d have said, I believe, what they were saying during the entire presidential campaign: Bill Clinton is not a liberal, and he’s no friend of labor’s. There’s certainly truth in this declaration, but it’s a partial and, more important, a superficial truth. The more relevant conclusion to draw from the interview clip is that we now have a president who will sign labor law reforms. Whether or not that legislation ends up on his desk depends in some measure on the labor movement and the left.

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Lima