Happy Birthday, President Clinton

By Susan Estrich

August 23, 2019 4 min read

On the occasion of Bill Clinton's 73rd birthday, the chattering class has come to bury the president they once adored — and not to praise him.

Not me.

I wish the biggest thing I had to worry about in the world was a blue dress. Imagine having time or energy for such nonsense when the Russians are wreaking havoc with our democracy.

I wish the guy in the White House spent his energy trying to put out racial fires rather than ignite them.

I wish our commander in chief didn't play domestic politics with Israel's future and security.

I wish the current president were devoting almost every waking moment he had to try to bring peace to the Middle East, instead of picking fights with Israel.

I wish we had a president who at least knew what our pain felt like, instead of not even having a clue.

I wish Madeleine Albright were secretary of state and Al Gore were vice president.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Back in 1988, when the world thought I was the biggest idiot on the planet for not sending my candidate out to fight the good fight, you defended me. You told them it was not my decision. You stood by your friend when times were tough.

And when they came after you, demanding impeachment for a mistake so many of them had made, I stood by you. Not because you were right, but because they were wrong. It was all just a weapon. Who would have ever imagined Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, that a man who said he grabbed girls by the genitals — who has a grown daughter — would become the president?

So, you weren't perfect. So, you made mistakes.

I remember the first time I saw you in the White House. Your shoulders were broader. You were, well, bigger. Hope. Imagination. What am I to say when young people talk about bringing children into a world that your successor is happily watching burn up? Hope?

I remember one night, long after Monica, when we stayed up talking. You talked about terrorism. I talked about hate and whether "politics" — not money and ads, but compromise and cooperation — could ever surmount the passions of faith and the miseries of poverty.

I so wish you were president today.

We were so young. But we knew the stakes. We had lost and lost, and if we had kept on losing, the Supreme Court would be lost for good.

Days after Ronald Reagan took office, Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children's Defense Fund — my hero — wandered the halls of the U.S. Senate, looking for even a handful of votes to support programs for children.

People suffered. They are suffering now. This isn't a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. It is a fight for the health and well-being of the poorest among us, a fight for a safety net without holes, a fight to hold families together.

Perhaps we are not liberal enough; that's what I thought of my parents. Then again, 51% of America is probably not to Bill Clinton's left.

The country is a better place because you were our president, even if we have miles still to go before we sleep.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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