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The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals

Publisher: Free Press • 1999 • 170 pages
4.25 out of 5 • View Ratings Details • 12 Ratings

The Clinton scandals, observes former Reagan Education Secretary Bill Bennett, are more than the story of a corrupt administration. They point the finger to a watershed period in our history: “Once in a great while a single national event crystallizes where we are and who we are and what we esteem. The Clinton presidency has provided us with a window onto our times, our moral order, our understanding of citizenship. The many Clinton scandals tell us, in a way few other events can, where we are in our public philosophy. They reveal insights into how we view politics and power; virtue and vice; public trust and respect for the law; sexual morality and standards of personal conduct…. The widespread loss of outrage against this president’s misconduct tells us something fundamentally important about our condition.”

America to Mr. Clinton:”What we should be talking about is that we are going to have the first balanced budget in more than three decades. That’s going to impact our children, not this sleaze that is masquerading as news.”That’s an actual quote from a typical American voter. But what makes those words truly shocking is that they came out of the mouth of someone who opposed Clinton in 1996. And just as shocking, new arguments in support of Clinton emerge almost daily, many coming from the same “man on the street.” And as we all know, the president — and Congress — are listening.

Now, at long last, someone is taking the bull by the horns and attacking the Clinton apologists head on. In “The Death of Outrage,” Bill Bennett explains why each of the arguments made in defense of Clinton is harmful to our national life. Mr. Bennett doesn’t need to convert you, of course, but would you know how to answer — convincingly — each of the following Clinton defenses in a conversation with your neighbor? In a letter to the editor? At a public or church meeting? In a talk with your children?

In the end, notes Bennett, perhaps the most important residue of the Clinton scandals will be the lessons they teach our children: “If these arguments are left standing, if the justifications are left intact, what will be the cost to the America of your children and grandchildren?” A sober warning, and one we can’t ignore for much longer. Bonus report:”The Nixon and Clinton Administration Scandals: A Comparative Analysis”Here’s Bill Bennett’s answer to James Carville’s comment of May 8, 1998: “The idea that Ken Starr’s little nickel dime sex investigation is somehow or another akin to Watergate is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard.” Now, in detail, the amazing similarities between the Nixon defense and Clinton defense in 33 separate areas. Based on history, the trend points to an ominous future for Mr. Clinton. This is a “must read” appendix.

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