Part of Hillary Clinton’s appeal is that she is supposedly the most experienced person running for the White House in 2016, and that part of this experience includes her time spent as first lady of the United States. She’s referenced this fact on everything from diplomatic meetings, to her fateful efforts on universal health care.
Hillary has declared she wants to take the country back to a more peaceful and prosperous time, skipping past our first black president and the president that immediately followed her husband to that magical decade of the Clinton ’90s.
But funnily enough, Hillary has done everything in her power to distance herself from as many pieces of Bill Clinton’s legacy as possible — and this is becoming an increasingly big problem for her and her husband as she approaches a near-certain Democratic nomination.
It’s a fascinating predicament the former first lady finds herself in as she attempts to co-opt Bill’s successes while claiming that she was just a bystander for key parts of his legislative accomplishments.
To take just one example: Hillary has attempted to detach herself from the signing of Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As anyone who has followed recent events in Georgia, North Carolina, and Indiana can see, that one’s just not going to fly in Democratic-party politics in 2016.
These complications came into full view this past week when Bill Clinton was confronted by Black Lives Matter protesters over his administration’s 1994 crime bill (the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, authored by none other than Vice President Joe Biden), which some say shoulders most of the blame for a spike in mass incarcerations.
The BLM protesters went after Bill over Hillary’s comments about gangs of kids, “super predators,” and the need to “bring them to heel.” It was a startling wake-up call for the former charmer-in-chief to see just how far the party he once commanded has slipped to the left — especially as he came face to face with those all-too-famous unintended consequences Democrats like to hide from.
Until now, Hillary has pretty much been given a free pass to talk up her husband’s eight years. Hillary was one of the most influential, proactive, policymaking first ladies in modern history. Those jokes about a co-presidency go back 25 years and are wholly appropriate. Are BLM protestors really the only ones up to challenging both her words and actions, as well as her husband’s?
Hillary simply can’t have it both ways. She can’t run on the “Best of Times” nostalgia of Bill’s legacy while attempting to distance herself from the very real fallout of his policies concerning the voting base Democrats need to maintain if they are to be successful in November. It will be interesting to see where these demos land once Bernie Sanders is retired back to the congressional rest home.
If Hillary wants people to remember her husband’s administration so fondly, the question should be asked: Which parts of the Bill’s legacy does she still agree with?