The Clinton Doc On PBS

Clinton was a flawed president. However, what seemed important while he was president seems less important now. Maybe that’s the unfortunate takeaway of politics.

I watched the first half of the PBS Clinton documentary last night. It wasn’t long before I tweeted,

“PBS portrayal of Clinton akin to Republicans talking about Reagan. Interesting.”

Later I read Lanny Davis’ (Clinton’s special counsel) comment in The Hill.

To watch four hours of the so-called documentary on the eight years of the Clinton presidency gave me the sensation of a report about a glass of water that is 75 percent full and 25 percent empty. The PBS presentation, I am guessing, spent 75 percent of the four hours reporting on 25 percent of the story, i.e., the issue of “scandal” in the Clinton presidency, omitting the substance and policy achievements of the Clinton presidency, i.e., issues that affected the lives of most Americans and that they care about most.

I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored. My mind was changed by the time it was over. I hadn’t moved my opinion to Davises, but certainly in that direction. The longer I watched the fairer the documentary seemed.

It originally felt biased because Clinton was a better president than could be appreciated at the time.

The doc presented a lot of history I hadn’t seen including a still and film of a young Bill Clinton meeting President John Kennedy at the White House. How had that remained hidden so long?

Clinton was a flawed president. However, what seemed important while he was president seems less important now. Maybe that’s the unfortunate takeaway of politics.

When someone’s in office the opposition, with the tacit encouragement of the media, looks for weakness or failing. Those traits get amplified through reptition. However, with the luxury of perspective Clinton seems much more effective as a president–still fallible as a man.

I’ve got two hours down with another two to watch. Originally I wasn’t sure I’d have the motivation to sit through the show. Now I can’t wait to see the second half.

8 thoughts on “The Clinton Doc On PBS”

  1. I saw it when they were playing it earlier, and it’s definately an interesting watch. I wish they had spent more time on things other than Lewinsky when it came to his Presidency, but the parts about his time as a politician outside of the White House were informative.

    Most people don’t have the attention span nowadays to sit down and watch the whole thing at once, though, which is a shame in this case.

  2. i too have watched two of the four hours and i feel, so far, it was well done, i am getting more of who the man was, and i think it is a well done documentary and you had never seen the footage of him with JFK before?? that’s surprising 😉

  3. I hope to watch this at some point… thanks for the review. I have seen the picture of the young Clinton meeting JFK… several times, but then again I am a bit of a history geek. Guess you missed it being busy predicting the weather and all, lol.

  4. Geoff, that photo of President Kennedy and a very young Bill Clinton, who was representing Arkansas Boys’ State, was made public when President Clinton was running for office in 1992!!

    Reagan–Clinton — no comparison whatever. Reagan was rarely or never in charge. His memory issues surfaced far earlier than his official Alzheimer’s diagnosis although that will always be denied. His was a carefully scripted presidency.

  5. Bill Clinton, despite all of the “scandals” will remain one of my favorite Presidents of recent years. He is a very intelligent man, and seems like the type of person who you could sit and have a conversation with. I’d love to be able to have a couple of hours to just talk with him and pick his brain.

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