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Clinton Leaves A Damaged Legacy


~~Copyright 2001 Melvin Durai

I'm going to miss Bill Clinton. Really, I am. He's been one of a kind, a leader who could inspire both respect and ridicule, a president who left his unique mark on more than just an intern's dress.

He presided over one of the strongest economies in U.S. history. Indeed, without him, many people would have been unemployed, especially the comedians.

During his presidency, America became a friendlier country. Even strangers on the New York subway had something to share with each other: "Did you hear the latest Clinton joke?"

Though he failed to provide health insurance for everyone, he did give us the next best thing. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

It's easy, of course, to point out his failings. They captured the headlines and almost derailed his presidency. When friends asked me the question "What do you think of the Clinton scandal?" my answer was always the same: "Which one?"

But even Republicans couldn't help admiring Clinton's charisma and political skills. A brilliant speaker, he had a way of connecting with people -- and not just his interns. He possesses more natural magnetism than Al Gore and George W. Bush combined. They and other politicians must have been envious, for Clinton could charm almost anyone, sometimes even his wife.

America enjoyed epic peace and prosperity during his tenure. Perhaps he doesn't deserve all the credit -- but at least he hired and kept the right people. Imagine the state of the economy if he had appointed his half-brother, Roger, to head the Federal Reserve Board. America would be borrowing money from Haiti.

The economy was so strong that some people, such as Regis Philbin, managed to find second jobs. Clinton's policies helped bring wealth to millions of Americans, including one who sold many copies of a book called "Monica's Story."

Clinton was successful in reducing the deficit and creating free trade agreements. Thanks to his welfare reform, only a small group of able-bodied Americans can receive government money indefinitely. And Clinton will soon be lucky enough to join them.

While he achieved mixed results in foreign affairs, he showed more concern than some of his peers, making trips to countries that Bush would have trouble pronouncing. Clinton's critics believe he was just trying to get away from his problems. And perhaps that's true -- he didn't take many Republicans along.

Unfortunately, some may remember him solely for the Lewinsky scandal and the dishonor he brought to the highest office. Among his many statements as president, one seems unforgettable: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss. Lewinsky." A younger Clinton once managed to dodge the military draft, but that was easy compared to his later challenge: dodging his wife.

The House of Representatives impeached him, but Clinton showed great perseverance and somehow survived, an achievement akin to saving the Titanic. And even more amazing, Hillary didn't throw him overboard.

But his legacy was damaged and Gore failed to succeed him. The vice president, unwisely, didn't even allow Clinton to campaign for him, which is like going fishing without your biggest worm.

So now Clinton must step down and watch the Republicans take over. Well, at least Hillary got elected to the Senate. It may take Bill Clinton a few weeks to realize he's not as powerful as his wife. All these years, he's been in denial.


Copyright 2001 Melvin Durai

Melvin Durai is an Indiana-based writer and humorist. A native of India, he grew up in Zambia and moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s.

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