I in no way am arguing the Bill Clinton is exempt from criticism. I opposed NAFTA and the Commodity Futures Trading Modernization Act as amended in the 2000 budget, which by the way, Sanders voted for despite the myth put out in primary that he didn’t (Oh, and it’s a lie to pretend its deregulatory amendments were hidden; the bill was very publicly blocked by Senator Phil Gramm to get them in it). However, to sit and pretend that Democrats were going to man the progressive barriers after 1) they did man the barriers with labor backed candidate, Walter Mondale, who was utterly destroyed in the 1984 election; 2) saw that the Republicans had held the White House for nearly a quarter of a century by successfully pealing working class white voters away using racial based economic resentments (welfare queens) and law and order messaging; 3) by the late 1980s, had amassed a large media and nonprofit legal infrastructure, which we take for granted today, to enhance their institutional power and fight unions and liberally aligned nonprofit organizations in the courts and in the press. They also had cultivated a strong relationship with white religious voters, over cultural issues, that Democrats and liberal groups simply did not have by the end of the 70s.
My problem with Frank et al and the “latest” historical revision of the last 40 years is it just doesn’t fairly represent the obstacles liberals and progressives faced from the other side. Clinton was notable because he managed to get elected in a conservative political environment, one in which the Republicans were considered to have a “lock” on the presidency, and one where they had made substantial inroads in Congress, including holding the Senate six years of the Reagan administration. That is also why his enemies attacked him so visciously too. In fact, Clinton’s weakness likely came as a result of pushing too far to the left too early on some issues, like healthcare reform and gays in the military. He increased taxes on the wealthy and was beat over the head for that too.