Stephen Chapman misses him. So do I.
Even during the 90’s, when I was still an adamant Republican, I had great respect for President Clinton’s modest approach to government — an approach that stood in stark contrast to the immodesty with which he conducted the rest of his life. And yes, I thought the Republicans at the time were idots for trying to make Clinton’s personal immodesty a focal point of their campaign to return to the White House, ignoring the productive relationship they enjoyed with him while governing. (In fact, it was respect for Bill Clinton’s governance that first convinced me Rush Limbaugh had the marks of a classless buffoon. What’s old is new, I guess.)
That being said — at the risk of irritating the same readers I’ve irritated before with similar comments — I will continue to argue, until I can’t argue anymore, that a material part of Bill Clinton’s effectiveness was the counterbalance he faced in Newt Gingrich. Neither man was a saint, nor is either of them today. But their unique combination, their persistent tug-of-war yielded a budget surplus and a generally prosperous nation.
And that’s precisely why I anticipate, with more than minor glee, a return of the Senate to Republican control in 2010. Obama needs his own Gingrich. Finding him will surely help the new President become the great President he’s capable of being, because greatness is never born of one person’s capabilities alone. It’s born from exceedingly capable people who are tossed into cauldrons of conflict, where they don’t get everything they want, and are thus “forced to refine and sharpen and improve their ideas.”
OK. Go ahead, now. Let me have it. Tell me how terribly wrong and misguided I am. You know you want to.