Bill Clinton is president-elect of the United States, and all Americans should hope he is a highly successful president. The Arkansas governor ran a tough, smart race and emerged with a massive victory over incumbent President George Bush.
He now faces the difficult job of fulfilling his campaign promises. During his long, successful effort to win the presidency, Clinton continually pounded at what he said were many wrongs and weaknesses with the country and what he claimed were poor performances by the Reagan and Bush administrations. He said the country was in its worst economic condition in the past 50 years. One way or another, and often with the help of the media, he was able to develop a perceived economic crisis in the country. He was critical of Bush and the president's handling of the Saddam Hussein situation in Iraq, and he suggested America had lost respect throughout the world. He had many easy answers on how to create more jobs, provide health care for all Americans, make a college education available for all Americans and provide more services for more Americans without increasing taxes for most. It all sounded good and easy, and the voters bought it.
However, it should be noted that although Clinton did rack up a resounding win Tuesday, he received less than 50 percent of the popular vote, so he is likely to face some rough sailing even with the luxury of a Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
Americans should make a point to record the country's current economic index figures inflation rate, unemployment rate and interest rates and compare these figures with what develops, for better or worse, in the years ahead.
Clinton's campaign was a skillful political exercise, and the Arkansas governor must be given credit for having the courage and confidence to enter the race when other, better-known Democrats backed away from challenging Bush. Nevertheless, it should be recognized he benefited not only from an able campaign but also from the luck of a worldwide economic downturn and a poorly directed and poorly executed Bush campaign. By skill, luck, timing or all three, Clinton came through with a big win.
It will be interesting to watch the role of Hillary Clinton, who was kept under wraps and somewhat muzzled during the campaign. In his victory address Tuesday night, one of the first comments by the president-elect was that his wife is likely to become one of this nation's greatest first ladies. Does this mean she will play a far more active role in the politics, policies and decisions of the new administration than have previous first ladies? If so, will her policies and views be similar to those expressed by her husband during the campaign, or will she have her own political agenda?
At this time, there is no way of knowing how much Ross Perot's candidacy hurt or helped Clinton's effort and, conversely, helped or hurt the Bush campaign. Several months ago, one of Perot's senior advisers said the Texan's main desire in the presidential race was to do whatever he could to help Clinton and hurt Bush. He said Perot had a deep dislike, almost a hatred of his fellow Texan, and he wanted to hurt the president. Voter analysts will have a field day trying to determine the role and effect of Perot.
Getting back to the whys of the Clinton victory, there probably is one more major factor. The public, justified or not, wanted a change after 12 years of a Republican president in the White House. There was, and is, a definite and strong anti-incumbent sentiment in the country, as witnessed by the success of term limitation measures in all 14 states in which voters had a chance to express their views on the matter. Bush was one of the 1992 election victims of this feeling. Some incumbents were returned to office, but it is clear the majority of American voters want term limits on their lawmakers. Many of those who today are basking in their Tuesday victories are likely to be ousted by term limit legislation if the various state votes prove to be constitutional.
There will be ample time to dissect the 1992 election, and there is sure to be much finger-pointing among Republicans. Right now, however, Clinton deserves congratulations for his successful campaign.