July 02, 2003

Begala's Book

I finished reading "It's Still the Economy, Stupid" by Paul Begala. I was surprised to find this the most comprehensive treatment of Clinton's economic/budget success, much more so than Blumenthal's book (which largely focussed on Whitewater, Starr, etc. while this book completely ignored it). Begala spends much of the book rattling off an array of facts comparing Clinton's policies to those of Bush.

Now, I have to be fair about one thing. Begala is being a little dishonest about some policies. He claims there was a Clinton policy to do XYZ for the environment, workplace, etc. that Bush rescinded when he was in office. While technically true, I know there are a few of those that Clinton only ordered in his final days. If they were such a big deal, why didn't Clinton order them from the very beginning? If Begala had been up front about this, I would've trusted the book a bit more.

However, that's only a small fraction of the overall book. Begala talks extensively about the tax burden, showing that pretty much everyone except the top 5% or so got a tax cut during the Clinton years, and the budget balanced. And this was after the 1993 stimulus plan Clinton passed that all the Republicans were moaning and groaning about that it would wreck the economy, etc. It probably didn't have much of an effect either way, but did the Republicans take things back and say they were wrong? Are you kidding me?

Actually, on that Amazon page that I linked, there's a really funny review (but I don't think it is satirical) by some foaming-at-the-mouth conservative conspiracy theorist. One of those types that can't give Clinton credit for one iota of any good thing that happened during his administration. Everything good is a result of some Republican action or Reagan or Bush, while everything bad is squarely Clinton's fault. It's worth a read just to see what passes for dittohead thinking these days.

The book also details the policies put in place during the first two years of the current administration, with lots of details about how Enron screwed things up. The comprehensive list of every single thing Bush has done to put the environment dead last behind corporate needs is nothing short of incredible. It's doesn't really hit you until the whole list, the result of years of one scheme after another, is right there in front of you. Very depressing.

I'm taking a break from political books for a few days while I tear through the last three Harry Potter books. I finally decided there's no sense waiting for the whole series since I read the first two anyway (so the movies didn't spoil the books).

Posted by Observer at July 2, 2003 07:46 AM

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I keep debating whether or not to read the rest of the Potter books after reading the first one so it wouldn't spoil the first movie. I wasn't going to, but they get so many glowing reviews that I start to think maybe the rest of them get better.

I'm coming from the perspective that the first book was just typical childhood wish fulfillment. "Oh, my parents and siblings are so bad to me, but WAIT! I'm really adopted and magical! We play soccer at my boarding school, just with a funny name and more balls" Yawn. Very underwhelming.

However, as the fifth book comes out, the whole series starts to get exposed to spoilers, like some major character in book five dies, and I'm sure like "The Crying Game" the public will ruin it for those who didn't read it now.

Posted by: Humbaba on July 2, 2003 10:08 AM