Is Bill Clinton redeemed?

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest gay rights group, has invited former president Bill Clinton to keynote their annual dinner next month.

That’s led a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle to suggest that Clinton has been “redeemed” for the double sins of embracing the anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) during his tenure in the 1990s.

I wasn’t thrilled with how President Clinton handled DADT in 1993 (clumsily), nor with his approach to DOMA in 1996 (welcoming it with open arms, and then using his support of it to rally southern voters). But. There is no question that Bill Clinton was, as my friend Richard Socarides calls him, a “transformational figure” in the battle for gay rights.

And keep in mind, Clinton addressed the HRC dinner back in 1997 as well. And that was right after DOMA passed the previous year. So this effort to read-the-tea-leaves about Clinton’s invite might prove weak tea after all.

Then-President Bill Clinton appearing at the HRC annual dinner with then- HRC President Elizabeth Birch.

Then-President Bill Clinton appearing at the HRC annual dinner with then- HRC President Elizabeth Birch.

I was just coming out around the time Clinton was running for president, and elected. And it was a big deal having a candidate, and then president, who dared to speak our name.

I remember watching the Democratic convention and seeing Clinton supporter, and someone I grew to know and admire years later, Bob Hattoy address the convention during prime time as both an openly-gay man and a person living with HIV/AIDS. That was unheard of at a political convention, let alone prime time. And, it forced the Republicans to then do the same, inviting AIDS activist, and GOP doyenne, Mary Fisher to speak at their convention. (Though Mary was “safely” straight.)

And that was only the beginning.

Clinton gave us the first administration committed to fighting HIV/AIDS, including appointing an AIDS czar. He gave us the first openly-gay appointees at the most senior levels in any administration as of that date. He gave us the first openly-gay US ambassador, and more.

Bill Clinton wasn’t perfect. And as good as he was on our issues, there was reason for our community to be annoyed with him at times during his presidency and after. (For example, it took him a while to come around on marriage equality.) But during his time in office, and subsequently, President Clinton made a huge difference for our community, and on issues we care about like AIDS.

So I have no problem with HRC embracing Bill Clinton. Yeah, DADT and DOMA kinda stunk. But he still made a huge difference for the gay community at a crucial time. And for that, he shall forever be thanked.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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55 Responses to “Is Bill Clinton redeemed?”

  1. woodroad34 says:

    I’m not sure I understand your comment. Obama’s been polarizing, for sure; but this post is about Bill Clinton. His two-steps-forward-one-step-back approach with DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell were devastating, resulting (with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) people losing their careers or attempts by male superiors to threaten female underlings loss of their careers if they didn’t subjugate themselves to the male superiors (it might’ve also played out with a female superior/male underling). The DOMA debacle was one of the Republican Party’s worst moments and Bill played right into it, causing legitimacy to anti-gay forces and the Brian Browns and Rick Santorums of the country.

  2. wmforr says:

    Everyone seems to forget how DADT came about. As his very first (I believe) act as President, Clinton issued an executive order rescinding the ban on gays in the military. He did this quite clumsily, but I believe he had the right intention. The Right, and some of the Left went ballistic, which he hadn’t anticipated. DADT was the “compromise” that was pushed on him, and at the time many gays in and out of the military thought it was a good first step, not knowing how it would be abused.

    It was, after all, “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t PURSUE.” Of course, they did pursue, and they did ask.

  3. wmforr says:

    And Obama hasn’t been polarizing? Not his fault, it’s the color of his skin.

  4. kuvasz says:

    No way in hell.

  5. Ironically, yes as to Bill, no as to HRC…

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    His other policies included the mass murder of children in Iraq, NAFTA, DOMA and DADT, gutting welfare, increasing the police by 200,000, and beginning the policy of rendition – murder, kidnapping and torture of his political and military opponents overseas.

    He had nothing to do with the minor increases in prosperity and unemployment, those were largely due to the end of inflation from the Vietname war and the payouts of taxpayer money for Carter Reagan crash of the credit unions, and partly due to the peace dividend.

    Which were his good policies?

  7. Bill_Perdue says:

    Don’t feel alone.

    The polls show very large numbers of people are moving left and as they do they’ll abandon the twin parties of the right, the Democrats and the Republicans, and their extremist wings, Dixiecrats and Tea Party types.

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    Dole as well as Clinton wanted DOMA passed. Both Championed it. The cowardice and treason of Clinton and virtually Democrats in Congress, from Biden to is clear.

    In terms of today’s chief issue, now that we’re beginning to defeat the Democrats DOMA the same scenario is in process. The Republicans openly opposed a non religious CRA or ENDA. Democrats only vote for it when it has no chance of being enacted. They’re still pandering.

    As for Obama, he’s never been our friend. Not when he cultivated scum like Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin, not when hid DoJ defended DOMA and DADT with rabidly bigoted language for the first two or three years of his first term, not when he torpedoed the fight against Prop 8 with ‘gawds’ in the mix’ and not when he and other Democrats stopped votes on ENDA, year after year after year.

    You can say that his support for marriage equality was friendly but that that only began after we began winning in the polls. It was not so much friendly as a desperate attempt to get money for his campaign. I’ve looked several times but there don’t seem to be any studies that indicate how many LGBT eligible voters have been voting. (Registered voters are a separate question, and Obama’s last minute rebranding did get him some extra votes, as was intended.)

    The truth us that neither party espouses our agenda but they do promote the agendas of corporate polluters, union busters and austerity mongers, and both are in the process of creating a police state. Neither are worth supporting in the least.

  9. 2karmanot says:

    Simple answer: NO

  10. woodroad34 says:

    Just watched the David Geffen bio on American Masters last night. He explained why he went Obama and not Hillary the last time around; I believe his quote was “Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is – and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? – can bring this country together.” And it was precisely because of this. Billy-boy really needs to apologize if he wants to see Hllary get elected.

  11. basenjilover says:

    Over at Crooks and Liars, read Robert Borosage’s column “Bill Clinton’s Corporate Fantasy”.

  12. BeccaM says:

    ‘Comfort zone’ is a good term. Quite apt. But as for getting over it, I’m not hopeful.

  13. FLL says:

    Yes, I think you’re right. The HRC is probably doing this to kiss up to the Clintons, both of them. Although the people in the HRC are timid, I doubt that most LGBT Americans have any reason to be timid. This is because the 2016 presidential race will likely be close, and even mainstream Republicans like Jeb Bush are avoiding openly homophobic positions. LGBT voters will quickly conclude that if they survived George Bush, they would be able to survive a Jeb Bush presidency with ease, even though Jeb Bush would probably veto ENDA or a comprehensive Civil Rights Act. But then, who knows? Maybe Jeb Bush would let the bill pass into law without either his signature or his veto. What all this adds up to is that Hillary needs LGBT voters a lot more than they need her, which is a rather nice position to be in, for a change. The fearful, pandering attitude of the HRC toward Hillary Clinton, then, is atypical of LGBT voters in general. That’s a nice situation for most LGBT voters and a painful situation for homophobes and (ahem…) the small minority of self-loathing gay people who rather resent the recent advances in civil rights…

    …not that there is anyone like that on these comment pages.

  14. FLL says:

    I cannot disagree with any of your points. Bill Clinton had to have a comfort zone in order to operate. If he didn’t have that comfort zone, he turned coward and ran, which is what I think happened in 1993. Real leaders, like Truman, are rare among politicians. The thing that bothers me the most about Hillary is that she needs the same kind of comfort zone in order to do the right thing. When she doesn’t have it, she does the wrong thing, like voting for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. I hope she gets over that. It would be good to hear her say that she was wrong. Bill Clinton could do the same in October when he addresses the HRC.

  15. FLL says:

    Bill Clinton was nasty and cynical in many respects. You’re right about that. The main point that I made in my reply below to Becca was American society was pretty nasty and cynical with regard to civil rights during the 1990s, and so, sadly, Bill Clinton was simply a reflection of the times and the society.

  16. BeccaM says:

    I’m busy with a heavy workload today, so I can’t really get into a lot of detail. Let’s just say that Aubrey does a pretty good job of running through my ‘thought processes.’

    Yes, the American people are also to blame. However, there remained this thread of cowardice and failure to lead in the White House and in the Democratic party in the 1990s on gay issues.

    Although I didn’t live through the time, I think back to the 1940s when Harry Truman, over the objections of a solid majority of the American people, ordered the desegregation and racial integration of the U.S. military. That was leadership. It wasn’t just looking at where the crowd was already going and getting out in front of it, even though the destination was an appalling one (in the ’90s, being institutionalized anti-gay discrimination).

    It was bad enough that it was the Dems who pushed through DOMA and DADT, dissembling in both cases as to how bad the discrimination would actually be. It was worse how, with DADT, the President himself could’ve made it less awful by using the laws retention provisions and plain language to make it far more difficult to discharge someone from the service. Especially if the person did nothing themselves to have violated the “Don’t Tell” part, or when someone else violated the “Don’t Ask” part. Instead, they went right ahead and instituted the worst expression of the law, with gay and lesbian servicemembers kept right until someone wanted them gone and then whoosh, out the door they went. (DADT was abused constantly to deny pensions and other post-service benefits.) Or how DADT was used to coerce women into having sex, lest they be accused of being lesbians.

    Instead of saying, “These are bad laws, but I have no choice but to let them pass into law” — Bill Clinton and the Dems began running on them, as if they were proud to have passed DADT and DOMA. Instead of finding ways to institute regulations to blunt the discriminatory effects of those laws, the administration did the opposite. Basically, they told the gay community, “Mmmm, isn’t the sh*t sandwich mighty tasty? You be sure to eat it all up because we could’ve given you far worse.” And they appeased the bigots. Call it what you will, it was the opposite of leadership.

    BTW, I don’t make the mistake of presuming that Bill and Hillary Clinton are the same person. I prefer to judge her on her own merits and shortcomings, and the big issue I had a problem with and the one I still do is her inability to admit she was wrong to vote for the Iraq war and the Patriot (sic) Act.

  17. dcinsider says:

    Having paid careful attention to Schoolhouse Rock as a child, I am well aware of the process of how a bill becomes law. Perhaps “author” was a bit off, but the point is, and was, that Clinton was a gutless coward when he signed both measures, and the pain he inflicted from his cowardice was decades long and real.

    John can post anything he wishes, and as I stated, if he wants to forgive Bill Clinton, have at it. I think its shameful that so many gay Democrats run to Clinton’s defense, with absurd statements like “the Republicans made him do it.” Puhleez. The man was President of the United States, not the hall monitor at recess. No one made him do anything. Clinton apologists will always defend him, no matter what. They’ve drunk the Clinton kool-aid.

    Many of us, however, do indeed have memories, and we don’t brain bleach the past to justify the actions of a political coward.

    And as for cowards, you can throw in barney Frank for giving Bill Clinton cover within the gay community during these years. I consider that clown (who I know personally) to be an obnoxious blowhard who accomplished exactly nothing for gays and lesbians while in Congress. The same Clinton apologists fall all over that jerk as well.

    There are heroes in our community, Barney Frank ain’t one of them. And as for Presidents, give me President Obama any day. You can keep Clinton.

  18. Alpha 50327 says:

    Has Clinton ever actually apologized for DADT and DOMA? Has he come out and said ‘I was wrong and I am deeply sorry for the pain and misery I enabled.’ I’m honestly asking.

  19. basenjilover says:

    No “redemption” for the Clintons from me. When and if Hillary runs and wins the presidency, good ‘ole hypocritically Bill will be advising her to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” to complacent neocons and throw gays under bus (more appropriately “ram and run over by bus”). The Clintons revere and worship the money god.

  20. jomicur says:

    I’m not at all certain what “redeemed means, in this case. If he were working actively to undo all the damage he did to our community and advance the cause of LGBT equality, well, maybe then. But all I’m aware of him doing is making feel-good speeches and trying to bluff his record out of existence. If that’s “redemption, I’m the president of the senate.

    Bill Clinton’s betrayals are responsible (not solely, but largely) for the fact that I haven’t voted for a Democratic candidate for president since the 90’s. Time was when I thought any Democrat was automatically better than any Republican. Clinton taught me otherwise. I voted for him eagerly in ’92, in large measure spurred by his stump speech to gay groups. Remember? “I’ve have a vision of America, and you are part of it.” Then came DADT. I remember walking into the voting booth in ’96 and thinking, “Am I going to let this bastard sucker me a second time?” The answer was clear, and as I said, I haven’t bought the D party line since.

    Bill Clinton turned me into a third-party voter, and I know I’m not the only one who can say that. I suppose that’s redemption of a sort, but it’s hardly the kind HRC is touting.

  21. FLL says:

    You’re right to say that Bill Clinton was not a leader but a triangulator. But there’s nothing in your reply that contradicts the point that I made in my reply to Becca, which is that it’s cowardly to blame elected politicians of the 1990s when they were just a reflection of all the people in the companies that we worked for and the extended families that we were a part of. You could justifiably conclude that, as a result of Bill Clinton’s triangulation during the 1990s, Hillary is not to be trusted today. Well? Well? Then vote in the primaries, which is exactly the opposite of what Bill Perdue is suggesting. Make sense?

  22. Aubrey Haltom says:

    I remember the 1992 election very well. The ‘culture wars’ meme began in earnest at that time. The ‘Pats’ (Buchanan, Robertson) were major players at the Republican national convention. There was AIDS hysteria, religious hatred, and our community was in the midst of a plague.

    As a response to the Republicans open contempt for gays and lesbians, the lgbt community provided Clinton with money and votes, nationally. And the national polling orgs, for the first time, asked in exit polls if voters were gay. The exit polls showed 2.5 % of voters in 1992 were gay, lesbian. Though even the polling orgs said that number was significantly undercounted. People weren’t comfortable with the idea of coming out to pollsters.

    The general consensus was that @ 5% of voters in 1992 were gay, lesbian. And that 72 % of those gay and lesbian voters chose Clinton. Bush 1 and Perot would split the balance of the lgbt vote – 14% each.

    The lgbt orgs then demanded Clinton follow-up on his campaign promises: 1. an executive order ending the military ban on gay service members; 2. the creation of an agency to deal specifically with the AIDS plague, and the appointment of an AIDS czar to run this agency/program. (there were other demands, but these were primary.)

    So, yes, DADT initially began as an attempt to do away with the absolute ban on gays and lesbians in the military. But we would quickly be introduced to Bill’s ‘modus operandi’ in the DADT debacle. Clinton was outplayed by the
    Republicans on this issue – and his support for open service was almost immediately turned on its head into a humiliating display of homophobia by all parties involved, including Clinton.

    DOMA was nothing more than an expression of how the Dems felt about us at the time. Clinton signed DOMA simply to ensure that his sizable lead in the polls would not take a 2 – 3 percentage point hit – which is what his campaign team had calculated might happen if he were to veto it.

    Having a substantial lead in the polls, Clinton chose to not only throw us under the bus, he actually drove the damn vehicle over us himself.

    Our community is ‘tactically expendable’ to the Dems. For 2 – 3 percentage points, not only Clinton but several Democratic Senators would sign on to horrific animus and discrimination against a minority community.

    Then, as others have mentioned, the Clinton campaign had to be shamed into stopping the radio ads it was running in southern religious radio stations. Where Bill proclaimed his commitment to discrimination.

    And the excuses from both Bill and Hillary that have followed the past few years are almost as insulting as the law itself. We’re told that Bill signed this travesty of a law to save our community from a federal marriage amendment.

    The only problem with this explanation? Even Clinton’s own staff admit there was NO conversation re: a possible fma in the lead-up to the actual DOMA signing. There anachronistic attempt to relocate the fma into DOMA’s trajectory would be laughable, if not for how contemptuous it is of people’s memory.

    It seems the Clintons think we won’t remember. Or, probably a more likely scenario, if they can come up with something that SOUNDS plausible (no matter how fallacious) then orgs like HRC will have something to throw at any criticism for events such as this HRC gala with Bill as the speaker.

    No apologies from either of the Clintons. Not even an apology for the very real consequences that DOMA (and DADT) had on the lives of lgbt citizens.

    And Hillary’s dance around the equality issue hints at nothing more than a continuation of the ‘tactical expediency’ valuation this community has with these two.

    I realize how homophobic the late 80s and early 90s was. I lived through it. It was a different time.

    But this community supported Bill to such an extent that, at the time, some very credible news orgs were declaring Clinton’s win was a result of our 72% endorsement of Bill in the 3-way race.

    We wanted a leader. We got a triangulator.

  23. FLL says:

    OK, point taken. If it were anyone other than Nicho, I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning it. But it’s Nicho, after all.

  24. FLL says:

    Agreed. “Like”

  25. FLL says:

    By the way, the “like” button was never meant as a substitute for a cohesive argument. If anyone wants to, they can copy the link to the video below and use it as a reply to any of my comments:

  26. Houndentenor says:

    Clinton signed a bunch of deregulation legislation that made it possible for the banks to get so big and faily and create the fraud and mess that led to the 2008 economic meltdown. Some of his policies were good, others not so much.

  27. Houndentenor says:

    It’s an expression. I hear it all the time. Get over it.

  28. FLL says:

    I don’t expect you to read every comment on a given thread, so I’ll answer you directly. You want John to be ashamed of himself for having uploaded this post? Well, that’s pretty dramatic. Where to begin? You claim that DADT and DOMA were authored by Bill Clinton. That is just plain false. Think before you write or you run the risk of making a fool of yourself. DADT was authored by bigoted military leaders in conjunction with their supporters in Congress, and they forced it on Bill Clinton, as the historical record clearly shows. Were you living in a cave when this was happening? You seem to be the one who wants to rewrite history. As for as DOMA, once again this was authored by Congress, not Bill Clinton. You can look up both the bill and the attached congressional documentation if you want. If I were to be charitable to you, I think what you meant to say is that Bill Clinton took cynical advantage of his signing DOMA in his 1996 reelection campaign. That does not mean that Bill Clinton authored the bill. Congress authored the bill (which is to say they created and passed the bill) and Bill Clinton signed it. The Republicans made it clear that if he didn’t sign the bill, Bill Dole would make that the centerpiece of his 1996 presidential campaign.

    dcinsider, you’ve written some insightful comments in the past, but this one was just pathetic—absolutely riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods. Maybe you just had a bad day. I look forward to your typically good comments in the future. What you said to John, I’ll say to you. You know better than this.

  29. dcinsider says:

    I share your Hillary concerns for precisely the same reason. I will NEVER trust the Clintons. Ever.

  30. dcinsider says:

    Wow. You are a very forgiving person.

    DOMA and DADT were not just a couple of pieces of bad legislation, they codified misery, bankruptcy, and in some cases death for gays and lesbians for decades. They were among the most harmful things ever inflicted upon the gay and lesbian community, and he was their author. Nothing, not all the efforts of Republicans over the same time, did more harm to us than Bill Clinton’s anti-gay legislation.

    If you and HRC want to forgive those offenses, that is your choice. But you don’t get to re-write history. He was a paradox, for sure. He did a few, very few, positive things, and two enormously negative things. In my mind, he has never adequately apologized for his actions, and I, for one, have never forgiven him, nor will I. he is largely the reason I don’t trust Hillary.

    C’mon John you know better than this.


  31. FLL says:

    One topic in John’s post, and many of the comments, is Bill Clinton throwing gay people under the bus during the 1990s. I don’t want people to get so used to hypocrisy that they start to accept it, so I’ll offer another example of throwing LGBT people under the bus. The following thread was on Americablog in August of last year:
    Part of my comment regarding Bill’s arguments on that thread was as follows:

    Bill Perdue’s comment did not occur in a vacuum. His never-ending narrative is that countries where civil rights have succeeded to a large degree are “the bad people,” and he always describes those countries as “much worse” than places where civil rights are horrendously ignored, which are “the good people.” This narrative extends throughout Bill Perdue’s comment history.

    Now you would think that Bill would try to refute that and state that he was in favor of the current push for LGBT civil rights, but you would be wrong. This was Bill’s stunning reply, complete with sarcastic quote marks around the term “Civil Rights”:

    ‘Civil Rights’ and all political rights in the absence of economic democracy – socialism – are not a solution.

    As far as Bill was concerned (at least as of last year), LGBT people could wait to get equal rights under the law… either until some socialist government established a command economy and took control of most economic activity… or forever, whichever came first. Talk about throwing people under the bus. This brings me to Bill’s admirers on this blog. They exhibit nothing but resentment toward LGBT people. They resent the recent advances in civil rights, even though they are loath to admit it. So I guess life has done them wrong, blah, blah, blah. We’ll have to reserve a special table for them when we all see each other in Washington. Who should we say the table is reserved for? Bitter party of six?

  32. FLL says:

    …having lived through the 1990s: LGBTs were thrown under the bus by Clinton and the Dems the instant it was deemed politically expedient to do so

    I see eye-to-eye with you fairly often, Becca, but the idea that you express in the excerpt from your comment above, although true, is a distortion if you don’t add the context. During the very homophobic 1990s, the American people, as I clearly recall, threw gay people under the bus. Laying the blame on some very abstract entity like “those Democrats in Washington” avoids the responsibility for holding accountable all the people who were around us at the time: co-workers, extended family members, even friends. I’m not going to second-guess you concerning your thoughts about the people that you worked with and had extended family gatherings with or your thoughts about the American people as a whole during the 1990s. I’ll simply listen to what you say about that.

    In general, I think it would be cowardly and misleading for the vast majority of gay and bisexual Americans to say something like: “Oh, most of the folks around me during the 1990s were in favor of marriage equality and open military service. The saintly American people were thwarted by the evil Democrats in Washington.” That is such an obviously false statement. During the 1990s, the cowardly and politically cynical attitude of the Democrats toward gay and bi people and the open hatred of the Republicans toward gay and bi people were simply a reflection of the greater society and the microcosm of our extended families and co-workers. I do use the word “our” here. The co-workers that I chose to work alongside and my own extended family were just as much of a mixed bag as I’m sure yours or Bill’s were. There are some I regard with affection and others that I’ll never have anything to do with.

    It’s just too easy to let everyone you knew and had ties with during the 1990s off the hook by blaming it all on some political boogyman. Some commenters on this blog (and I’m not including you here) conclude by saying, “I’m just more comfortable with Republicans in power than with Democrats in power.” Yes, Becca, I think we can all understand an implied main idea. Even our goddamn high school English teachers got that across. And we can all be spared the notion that it’s ever so likely that a socialist workers’ party will win a majority in Congress anytime soon, regardless of how you or Bill or I feel about state ownership of “the means of production.” So why take Bill’s advice and refuse to support the Democrats of today (or supportive Republicans, for that matter) because of what the American people were in the 1990s, for what our own extended families and co-workers were in the 1990s? To what purpose? Anthony Kennedy was more of a fluke than anything else if only because Reagan wanted Robert Bork on the Supreme Court so badly; after Bork’s defeat via the Democratic filibuster, Reagan had to say “F*ck it, I guess Kennedy will do.” Now look at the rest of the Supreme Court. Once again, I ask you, “To what purpose?” We’ve all changed, Becca. You, I, the country as a whole—everyone. I want you to ask Bill where he’s going with all of this—”Quo vadis, Bill?”

  33. FLL says:

    See my reply to caphillprof above. The same applies to your reply to my comment. What you and Nicho are saying at least belongs in a separate comment, not a reply to my comment. Neither one of you are addressing anything in my comment, so it’s not really a “reply,” is it? If you want to expand the conversation to talk about other Clinton policies, fine. Then comment at the top of the thread.

  34. FLL says:

    Fine. Expand the conversation on this thread to include the whole range of Clinton policies if you want, but Nicho or you could at least address something or anything in my original comment if you’re going to reply to it. That’s the way comment pages work, don’t you think?

  35. caphillprof says:

    In politics all issues are one.

    He led the way to destroy the economy, but he was good on the gays?

  36. caphillprof says:

    They pretty well have you cornered.

  37. caphillprof says:

    It’s not about Bill. HRC is positioning itself for the disaster of a Hillary presidency.

  38. Bill_Perdue says:

    I agree with much of that. Bill Clintons support for DADT, his first major betrayal of the LGBT communities, is examined in detail in these two videos, where’s he’s interviewed by Bil Browning.

    It’s clear from these videos that Bill Clinton, a Dixiecrat was an opportunist bigot, a function bigot what ever one thinks of his ‘inner’ feeling. His second betrayal, DOMA, convinces me that he was just an ordinary, tawdry Dixiecrat/Democrat and bigot sans qualifiers.

    The criticisms of the Clintons after he left office were very timid timid but over time a very large number of LGBT activists, including many Democrats, now look at him that same way they’d look at a sidewinder pulling back for a strike. Much of that is based on a series of stories that originally appeared on AmericaBlog. The same kind of early criticisms of Obama are beginning to surface in terms of his role in the passage of Prop 8 and in delaying passage of ENDA and I suspect they’ll spread and solidify soon after he leaves office. office.

  39. BeccaM says:

    You and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, Bill, but one thing was abundantly clear to me, having lived through the 1990s: LGBTs were thrown under the bus by Clinton and the Dems the instant it was deemed politically expedient to do so. In fact, in the debates on DOMA and DADT, they seemed to be falling all over themselves to proclaim how they were ‘protecting’ marriage and the military from the presence of gay people.

    I mean, in a situation where it could’ve been judged, “Okay, too soon, we can’t get equality passed, it’s best if we do nothing” — they didn’t just go neutral on gay rights. They went negative.

    I honestly think their calculation was “who else are the gays gonna vote for anyway?” right alongside “we can steal some of the wobbly conservatives if we trash the gays.”

  40. Jim Olson says:

    I’ll vote for Hillary, if she’s the candidate, but I’ll loathe doing so. Because the only alternative is to vote for a Republican, which I will never do.

  41. Bill_Perdue says:

    There is no proof at all that there was a worse version of DOMA being proposed in 1996. And what could have been worse? The Federal Marriage Amendment? That was introduced in 2002, six years later, in the House of Representatives, by Representative Ronnie Shows, who, you guessed it, is a Democrat.

    Clinton is responsible for DOMA, he embraced it and championed it. It doesn’t matter if a veto would have been overridden. Those who give that as an excuse have to figure out whether or their loyalty belongs to Democrats or to the LGBT Communities.

    “Months earlier, May 23, 1996, Clinton made his first comments on DOMA, jumbling the specific effect of the bill but echoing comments from his press secretary that he would sign it. On July 11, 1996, the administration issued a Statement of administration Policy: ”The President … has long opposed same sex marriage. Therefore, if H.R. 3396 were presented to the President as ordered reported from the House Judiciary Committee, the President would sign the legislation.”

    Clinton signed DOMA because he’s a bigot. He gloated about it in his campaign ads. “One reason the Rick Warren thing is a big deal is because, after Bill Clinton, the gay community is unusually sensitive to getting the shorter angle of presidential triangulation. It is hard to overstate the optimism and excitement that gays and lesbians felt in 1992. But the optimism deflated spectacularly after “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, not to mention President Clinton’s sneaky 1996 ad boasting about DOMA, which aired only on Christian radio. Clinton was willing to say the word “gay” in public and appear in black tie at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, but, in the eyes of the gay political community, his commitment to gay rights vanished.

    DADT, another betrayal, was the work of Democrat Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, who led the contingent that favored maintaining the absolute ban on gays. Reformers were led by Democratic Congressman Barney “Quisling” Frank of Massachusetts, who favored modification (but ultimately voted for the defense authorization bill with the gay ban language), and Barry Goldwater, a former Republican Senator and a retired Major General. Wiki

    Clinton was never a threat to the Republicans, like Obama, he’s a clear example of the fact that there are no real differences between the two parties. According to TIME Magazine “By the time Clinton arrived in Chicago for his party’s convention in August, nothing that hinted at liberalism was left hanging on him. When the President, who had begun his term advocating the rights of gays in the military, came around to supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition for gay and lesbian unions, Dole was wide-eyed. “Is there anything we’re for that he won’t jump on?” Dole asked. The answer, essentially, was nothing…”

    Clinton, like Obama, was a godsend for Republicans. He championed NAFTA and deregulation when they couldn’t get them passed. Those two initiatives laid the ground work, along with Bush’s tax cuts, for the Crash of 2007.

  42. pricknick says:

    “But isn’t that a comment for other threads?”
    No. It’s not a comment for other threads. We’re talking about a family affair. You can not take what billy boy says and differentiate what his hill billary wife will do.

    Clintons are done in my book and many others.

  43. Indigo says:

    What an excellent characterization. And a telling note on who, exactly, both the Alpha-Gays and the Clintons are. They’re both cheesy cliques but, in a sense, they deserve each other. I don’t feel any deep sensation of disgust or interest in them. They’re a political phenomenon, though, and that’s something I keep an eye on.

  44. Indigo says:

    Sure, it’s politics we’re talking; canonization is in a separate file.

  45. cambridgemac says:

    Oh thank god someone has a memory. I mean really. I’ve been over them for years.
    And speaking of the memory hole, how about James Carroll’s Oct. 5, 2009 Boston Globe op-ed piece in which he describes in excruciating detail how Colin Powell, Dole and other Republicans began their homophobic campaign before Clinton took the oath of office – and how Clinton blinked in the face of open insubordination – and sacrificed not only gay people, but nuclear disarmament, which was in fact the game. Zero nukes destroyed under Clinton – and a military elite that could tell the President “no” – supported by Southern senators who made overt threats to the President’s safety. With impunity.

  46. Houndentenor says:

    Collins may have been defensible. She was instrumental in getting DADT repealed, after all. D’Amato was not. But HRC endorsements mean nothing. No one votes based on their recommendations or D’Amoto would have been re-elected. What a joke. Worse was the condescending letter they sent to those of us who complained. I responded by mailing in my membership card. I am sure I wasn’t the only one. As my donations were so small like they could have had any fucks go give. We have better and more productive gay rights groups. This one has the most money since the big donors will get to meet the Clintons! I’ve met them many times (in the 80s and 90s). That was then. This is now. I’d like for us to move forward instead of backwards. The Clintons are a reminder of a painful past in which we had to be satisfied with scraps from the table and being kicked but not too hard by the politicians we helped elect. I’m done with that bullshit. It was necessary then but it isn’t now. The Clintons are the past. I’m looking for a candidate for 2016 that won’t sell me out at the first inconvenient (for them) moment which I still believe Hillary would do. Redeemed? they haven’t even fucking apologized!

  47. Houndentenor says:

    Exactly. Why spend money trying to pass legislation or advocating on behalf of lbgt people when you can throw lavish parties and take selfies with celebrities.

  48. FLL says:

    “Cocktail Queens for Clinton”

    You really have some twisted self-loathing concerning gay men, don’t you? Come on, Nicho, share with the rest of the class.

  49. FLL says:

    But isn’t that a comment for other threads? NAFTA and banking deregulation are complex discussions on their own. Not only that but you can’t assume that I would disagree with you or some other hypothetical commenter concerning NAFTA or bank deregulation.

    I was commenting on the substance of John’s post. That concept seems alien to you. You don’t address a single point in my comment. Are you just starved for attention? Starved for attention now? Starved for attention when you were a child? What’s with that “baby” avatar of yours anyway?

  50. pricknick says:

    Anything with the last name of clinton belongs in the trash heap of history.

  51. Naja pallida says:


  52. nicho says:

    And millions of gays and lesbians — along with straights — were severely hurt by his other policies — NAFTA, CAFTA, banking deregulation, the slaughter in Iraq, and the destruction of welfare.

  53. nicho says:

    “Cocktail Queens for Clinton”

  54. FLL says:

    As Becca points out below, HRC is certainly no gold standard for activism, so I’ll ignore HRC’s support when I assess Bill Clinton’s presidency. Clinton made it clear in 1992 that he wanted open military service for gay people. I suppose he was taken by surprise by the vehemence of the bigoted opposition, spearheaded by the Republicans, of course, who were (and to some extent still are) the party that actively appealed to homophobes. It’s pretty clear from the record that DADT was forced on him. I think Clinton got worse and more cynical as a result of that 1992-1993 DADT experience. Although DOMA was a Republican initiative (of course, of course and again, of course), Clinton’s genuine crime was to cynically make use of his signature on DOMA to stump for Southern votes by touting his signing of DOMA on Southern evangelical radio stations. For that particular 1996 campaign strategy, an apology is in order. However, his desire to put open military service for gay people on the table in 1996 (when no one else in politics was expecting it) was a plus.

  55. BeccaM says:

    This is the HRC we’re talking about. Cocktail party fundraisers and access.

    Remember when they endorsed D’Amato? Or Susan Collins? Or when they awarded Goldman Sachs with the 2011 “Workplace Equality Innovation Award”?

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