The custom of trying to guess what a president's
legacy will be is a good one: It forces us to think about how
history will judge our times. But what will Clinton really be
remembered for? Conventional wisdom says it will be summed up in one
word: "Monica." But this misses the point.
Monica will appear in history books, but decent
people probably won't want to dwell on her in the future, just as
many wanted to ignore her in the past.
A counter-intuitive strain of thought says he'll be
remembered as a conservative president who balanced the budget,
reformed welcome and established NAFTA. Not likely. This is the
Gingrich legacy after all (excepting NAFTA, which belongs to Reagan
and Bush) -- and what past budgets and spending slowdowns do we
remember previous administrators for?
Unfortunately, these stabs at Clinton's legacy have
missed what will surely emerge as the lasting effect of the last
What Clinton will be remembered for is violence.
For one thing, the most ubiquitous domestic news
stories of the Clinton years -- the Oklahoma City bombing, the O.J.
Simpson trial and the Columbine massacre -- were all about violence,
though these had nothing to do with Clinton.
Other violence in the Clinton years will not,
perhaps, be held against him: In Somalia, U.S. soldiers' bodies
being dragged through the streets. In Kosovo, U.S. troops ousting
one violent regime ... only to see another take its place. In China,
a new level of U.S. friendship followed by a new level of anti-
religious violence. In Northern Ireland, a celebration of Clinton,
and then back to the killing. In the Middle East, a protracted (and
noble) effort at peace, followed by new death, pain and hatred.
No, the violence that will become part of the
Clinton legacy is violence against children. And that's not counting
the strange mixture of big guns and little kids early in the
administration at Waco and at its end in Elian's closet hideaway.
The Clinton legacy that will rank right up there
with slavery and war is infanticide.
In 1993 came President Clinton's executive order
legalizing fetal tissue research. One of his first actions as
president, it was hailed as a great liberation for science: The sad
reality of abortion could have some salutary use.
What was underreported (or ignored) at the time was
that first-trimester fetuses are of limited use for fetal
experimentation. Older, more developed babies were much more useful.
The "problem" for pharmaceutical firms and medical research
industries is that such babies were in short supply. Not
surprisingly, a new class of entrepreneurs soon found ways to meet
In 1996, a growing late-term-abortion industry must
have seemed in jeopardy when the U.S. House and Senate
overwhelmingly supported a ban on partial-birth abortions. The bill
banned the abortion procedure in which a baby is removed feet first
from the mother's womb, its skull broken by a doctor's scissors and
its brains removed.
But Clinton vetoed the ban in 1996. He vetoed
similar legislation a year later.
He wouldn't sign last year's partial-birth abortion
act either, even though new information about the trade in body
parts shed light on the money motive behind the barbaric procedure.
Partial-brith abortion keeps a baby's body intact so that it fetches
a higher price from researchers -- $500 for an "intact trunk
(with/without limbs)," according to one report.
Clinton's executive order made partial-birth
abortion possible, his vetos kept it legal and his administration's
inaction has see it grow profitable. And, as pro-abortion former
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan has said, partial-birth abortion is
This is what history will remember about the
Clinton years: the legalization and fostering of infanticide. "And
where were the decent people in America?" history will ask.
Let's hope that each of us can answer that question