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.