|Week of: |
October 1, 2000
|He Felt Our Pain, While Increasing It
by: F.R. Duplantier
In his new book, Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years, journalist James Bovard returns a damning indictment against the self-proclaimed "most ethical" administration in history. "From concocting new prerogatives to confiscate private property, to championing FBI agents' right to shoot innocent Americans, to bankrolling the militarization of local police forces, the Clinton Administration stretched the power of government on all fronts," he asserts. "From the soaring number of wiretaps, to converting cell phones into homing devices for law enforcement, to turning bankers into spies against their customers, free speech and privacy were undermined again and again."
Bovard notes that "no aspect of Americans' lives was too arcane for federal intervention. The Clinton Administration built its 'bridge to the twenty-first century,'" he concludes, "by filling every sinkhole along the way with taxpayer dollars. From Ameri-Corps projects that beat the bushes to recruit new food stamp recipients, to a flood insurance program that multiplied flood damage, to programs to give the keys to lavish new single-family homes to public housing residents, the Clinton Administration's record domestic spending produced record fiascos."
Bovard refuses to judge the Clinton presidency "solely on whether the Senate convicted him on impeachment charges, or whether he and his wife were shown to have obstructed justice during the Whitewater investigation, or whether a federal judge fined him for perjury, or whether a clear link is discovered between Chinese military front companies and Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign. The danger of focusing on the best-known scandals," he warns, "is that people may forget or fail to realize how much misgovernment occurred during the 1990s. Far more Americans have been affected by IRS depredations, HUD-ruined neighborhoods, and FDA-denied drugs," Bovard declares, "than by Clinton's personal misbehavior. Many of the worst abuses of the Clinton Administration," he observes, "never appeared on the media's radar screen."
Bovard cautions his readers not to "assume that, since Clinton's reign will soon end, Americans no longer need to be concerned with his actions in office. The vast majority of Clinton-era misgovernment will survive the end of his administration," he predicts. "Even if Republicans capture the White House," Bovard asserts, "there is little reason at this time to expect that they will have the resolve to shut down HUD, slash the IRS's powers, severely curb the FBI, cease dictating racial hiring quotas, end the war on drug users, plow under farm subsidies, dismantle trade barriers, and respect the Bill of Rights. And," he adds, "if Vice President Gore is elected President, he can be expected to stretch federal power further in dozens of directions."
Bovard argues that "Clinton did more than any recent President to place the federal government above all laws -- above the Constitution -- and beyond any effective restraint. Clinton," he notes, "ignored federal and Supreme Court decisions limiting his power and Congress rarely had the gumption to check his abuses. Clinton exploited and expanded the dictatorial potential of the U.S. presidency."
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