- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2000

The question left unanswered by Bill Clinton following his Monday night speech that is, the pre-baton-passing farewell address to the Democratic National Convention is not so much, "What will we do after he is gone?" but rather, "How did we ever get along without him?"

"Eight years ago, when our party met in New York, it was in a far different time for America," Mr. Clinton began. "Our economy was in trouble, our society was divided, our political system was paralyzed." The president went on from there, invoking the dark imagery of disease-riddled children, smoldering church ruins, the despair of the unemployed … the rubble-strewn, wolf-roamed, potato-rationed desolation that was America, circa 1992. Don't remember that? How fortunate, then, that Mr. Clinton hasn't forgotten. Otherwise, Americans might never have realized the scope of the Clinton era's achievements which include not just the Internet, invented, as everyone knows, by Al Gore, but also Mr. Clinton's personal contributions of the wheel, the stock exchange and microwave popcorn.

It soon became clear Monday night that it was all really rather fabulous of him to take office when he did, 21-months after the economy had begun to recover from the eight-month recession that had interrupted the previous eight years of economic boom ignited by Reaganomics. But as much as Mr. Clinton has empowered and unleashed the American people, who, B.C. (Before Clinton), had only the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for inspiration and protection, some among us may find ourselves struggling with mixed emotions as the Clinton years come to a close.

What a time for the 25th Amendment to kick in and prevent him from seeking a third term of office. Such is life. It is time for Mr. Clinton to move on to "pass the baton," "the mantle of leadership," and "the torch," as the media says, to Mr. Gore. Scepters, anyone?

When it comes to Mr. Clinton, this baton-passing business has been taking considerable time and effort. Indeed, it still isn't over. As Franklin Ashley, professor of politics at the College of Charleston, put it to The Washington Post, "The passing of the baton from Bill Clinton to Al Gore has become like the passing of a painful kidney stone that just won't pass." Quite.

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