Cutting With the Grain: Is There a Clinton Leadership Legacy?
BERT A. ROCKMAN
How do we come to grips with the nearly completed presidency of Bill Clinton? To pose this question reveals not only a presidency-centric outlook toward the American political system but also an individualized conception of leadership. It is plausible, after all, that the hard-charging Republican congressional class elected to the 104th Congress in 1994 may have had the largest leadership role of all in terms of setting a policy agenda, in later sealing the fates of two of their leaders ( Newt Gingrich and Robert Livingston), and in trying ultimately, if unsuccessfully, to terminate Bill Clinton's presidency. The fact of the matter is that presidents are not always the whole story of political leadership, 1 perhaps not even the main story.
The odd coupling of prosperity and partisanship are the tag lines of the Clinton years. Alan Greenspan, chair of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, is reputed to have had something to do with the prosperity side of things, and a string of Republican leaders and backbenchers, as well as the ubiquitous independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, may have had something to do with the partisan side. Investors hung on Greenspan's words, while Clinton prayed that the sayings of Chairman Greenspan would not imperil his presidency. Although the sheer quantity of Newt Gingrich's words made each of them less consequential than Greenspan's, no one symbolized the clamorous partisanship of the Clinton