Fate of the Union: America's Rocky Road to Political Stalemate

By Robert Shogan | Go to book overview

7
The Crybaby

STARTING EARLY IN CLINTON'S SECOND YEAR in the White House, one day every week a dozen or so of his political advisers, briefing books and notes in hand, trooped to a meeting room hidden away in the White House basement. There they spent the better part of two hours planning Clinton's role in the November midterm elections. Their leader was Clinton's deputy chief of staff and chief troubleshooter, Harold Ickes, whose new role as campaign overseer drained time away from his efforts to muster support for Clinton's health-care reform and to contain damage from the Whitewater affair. His assignment testified to the recognition by President Clinton, shared by the Republican high command, that the midterm balloting would go a long way toward defining the political future.

Ickes and his crew faced a sobering task. From the beginning, the 1994 midterm election loomed as an uphill march for Democrats and a golden opportunity for Republicans. History was the most evident factor working against the Democrats and in favor of the GOP. Not since 1934, when a grateful electorate rewarded Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Democrats for checking the ravages of the Great Depression, has the party controlling the White House failed to lose ground in a midterm election. Given Bill Clinton'S fitful start in the White House, no one supposed that his administration would be an exception to that rule.

Indeed, to the contrary, the Democrats now feared that their victory in the presidential election would be their undoing in the midterm. Their wellfounded anxiety reflected the ultimate triumph of Madison's scheme of restraint through countervailing ambitions. His design had produced the gridlock that marked the government for the twelve years when Republican presidents Reagan and Bush had been pitted against the Democratic majorities in the House, and half the time in the Senate, too. This stalemate had not only frustrated the electorate but further debilitated and fractured

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Fate of the Union: America's Rocky Road to Political Stalemate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Author's Note xi
  • 1 - Born to Fail 1
  • 2 - The Coincumbents: the Price of Pragmatism 17
  • 3 - The Prinee of Ambivalenee 49
  • 4 - The Contenders: Who Else is There? 73
  • 5 - The Ppophet: Back to the Future 99
  • 6 - The Unraveling 133
  • 7 - The Crybaby 165
  • 8 - The Lawmaker 197
  • 9 - The Pitchfork Rebellion 217
  • 10 - The Return of the Comeback Kid 239
  • 11 - Divided They Ran 265
  • 12 - The New Political Order 289
  • A Note on Sources 321
  • Index 323
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