Has the shine come off the Clinton (Bill) apple among college students?


It occurs to me that today’s college students and very recent college graduates have only really experienced two presidential administrations – the current one and the Clinton administration.

Yes, I know, not a shocking revelation by any stretch.  But consider that many college students are likely to have a very idealized view of the Clinton years especially in light of the almost utter failure of his successor.  When your frame of reference is terrorist attack followed by an incomplete war in Afghanistan and a, to say the least, “controversial” war in Iraq on the foreign front and a recession, slow recovery, housing bubble burst and a “potentially worse than the Great Depression” recession on the domestic front, even James Buchanan’s presidency is going to look like the golden era.  So imagine what Bill Clinton’s presidency, as rife as it was with partisan vitriol, moral missteps and some isolated examples of bureaucratic ineptitude, must look like.

Ask many college students and their likely to rank the Clinton presidency and its 22 million new jobs, post Cold War aura among the top 5 “best presidencies ever” along with Washington, Lincoln, Bartlet and Ford (Harrison, not Gerald).So it must be tough for President Clinton to see his luster being lost among those younger people.

 According to Politico.com the former president defended his stance against Barack Obama – the heir apparent to the Bill Clinton mystique among college-age and recently graduated voters – at an assembly of college journalists convened by mtvU, a college-oriented channel of MTV.  In fact, the former president seems to have acted at times during the interview like the crusty old dean from most college movies than the cool, rock-star, former president:

Clinton responded hotly when asked: “How is it that the guy from Hope is the insider from Washington?”“I think that every election should be about hope, and every election should be about the future,” he said. “I have no problem with that. But how anybody could say I’m the Washington insider when I live in New York and I have not gotten — I’m not in politics anymore. And if you look at it, I think that all I have done is keep pushing America into the future in what I do in my post-presidential life.”   

So I pose this questions to any of the college students and recent grads in the audience: has your opinion of President Clinton changed since the start of this presidential campaign?

According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, also reported on Politico.com,  you may not be the only one who has soured on the popular former prez:

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Thursday found that more Americans view Bill Clinton negatively than positively, 45 to 42 percent. It marked the first time since January 2002 that a plurality of Americans disapproved of the former president. One month earlier, The Gallup Poll found that nearly as many Americans had an unfavorable as favorable view of Bill Clinton—for the first time in nearly five years.    

Presidential historians quoted in the article say there’s one thing that could help Clinton regain his former post-presidential popularity – a victory by Mrs. Clinton. 


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