Talk:Bill Clinton

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 Definition US Democratic politician (1946– ); Governor of Arkansas 1983–1992; President of the United States 1993–2001, husband of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [d] [e]

Editor plan and guidelines

  • A general principle of all articles about political figures: it should be impossible to determine whether the authors are supporters or opponents of the subject of the article. Citizendium is neither Democrat nor Republican.

This article talk page is now under dispute watch

See CZ:Dispute Watch. You're going to have to start using the {{prop}} template in the way that page describes, illustrated here: Talk:Oriental (word). We're testing out a dispute resolution idea, but I'm taking the test seriously. From now on, disputation on this page must be on-topic, and on-topic means (1) aimed at a specific proposition, (2) the proposition must concern the wording of the text, and (3) engaging in a dispute, as opposed to how to characterize the dispute, is off-topic. Call it the Anti-Bloviation Rule!  :-) --Larry Sanger 07:26, 3 August 2007 (CDT)

What follows is not my most passionately held belief, nor is it a particularly important issue IMHO, but it is an issue none-the-less and I'm going to try to push it through this new system to see how the system works. Will Nesbitt 06:39, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Will demonstrated able how well a motivated troublemaker could break the system. I think it's a failure, so this dispute watch is off... --Larry Sanger 03:31, 10 August 2007 (CDT)

The appropriateness of the word "brilliant" to describe any political figure.

Proposition: Introductory paragraph sentence reading: Clinton, a policy wonk, was (with Ronald Reagan) one of the two best campaigners in recent decades.

I think it is inappropriate for CZ to describe any politician with an editorial adjective such as "brilliant". Clinton may well be brilliant, but there are many arguments against his brilliance. Because this is an arguable statement, it is not a factual statement, thus I don't think CZ should take a position on his brilliance.

The comparison to Reagan reads like an attempt to placate partisans, and doesn't solve the real editorial issue. I don't think CZ should take a position on Reagan's brilliance either, btw. The way it's now written, the comment on Reagan seems wildly off-topic and only makes sense in the context that someone is trying to appease those who disagree with Clinton's brilliance. The footnote leads to a search engine with no direct quote or opinion by any expert. If there were an expert to quote I would suggest the sentence read:

Expert X says that Clinton, a policy wonk, was one of the two best campaigners in recent decades.

As a result of working through this debate, I checked the "sources" for this claim. The current source is not really a source but a link to the results of a keyword search from a search engine. These are quotes from the top three sources on the search engine provided by previous researcher:

"Bill Clinton's the best campaigner I've seen in my life," said Tom McGrath of Pepperell, Mass., who plans to support Hillary Clinton "on her own merits." -- Concord Monitor Online (Tom McGrath is some average guy at a Clinton rally.)
"the best campaigner there ever was"--David Matthews...Longtime friend of Clinton
“What John Edwards had going for him is first of all he’s the best campaigner I’ve seen since Bill Clinton. His speech is the most fantastic stump speech.” -- DAVID BROOKS. (This appears to be a Democratic campaign site of some sort.)

The next reference is entitled: "Rush Limba sic. - Lying Nazi Whore". It's a random collection of thoughts attesting the poster's political opinions regarding Rush Limbaugh's flaws. One of the quatrains mentions the phrase "best campaigner of the 20th Century".

I gave up research after this, because it does not appear that the sources support the claim made by the sentence. I would prefer to see this sentence removed until these claims can be supported by expert opinion. Will Nesbitt 07:03, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

the experts agree on Reagan and Clinton's campaign prowess and CZ reflects that. It's not at all controversial. Richard Jensen 14:01, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
Reagan's brilliance is not relevant and thus shouldn't be mentioned. Clinton's brilliance is not particularly controversial, but it is an opinion. Opinions must be ascribed to experts and not to CZ. Please find a reference that testifies to Clinton's brilliance. The previous source was very poor work. I have said repeatedly, it's fine to quote the opinions of Jensen or Moyers or Tom McGrath or David Matthews (above) regarding Clinton's brilliance. CZ is not neutral and our work here is exceeding difficult if we devolve into a place to argue opinions, rather than a place to report facts. Will Nesbitt 14:07, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
Facts are what the experts agree on, including Clinton's brilliance at campaigning. there is no alternative viewpoint. Richard Jensen 14:10, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
Isn't a dead horse being beaten here? The word "brilliant" hasn't been used for some time now - it says that he and Reagan were the two best campaigners of recent times. This too, I freely concede, may also be inaccurate, as being as possibly being biased, but at least I think the discussion should focus of *this* phrasing, not the previous.Hayford Peirce 14:11, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
The advantage of current phrasing: there have been a few dozen major national campaigners in recent decades Clinton and Reagan have received intense scrutiny from many experts all across the spectrum, who agree on the consensus. To report that consensus is CZ's mission. To NOT report it because it makes a Democrat look good is the sort of pro-GOP bias we avoid. Richard Jensen 14:16, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
Thank you Hayford for identifying my mistake of honing in on "brilliant". But the argument remains the same whether you insert "best campaigner" or use "brilliant". This is an editorial value judgment and as such is outside of our purview.
Contrary to Richard's assertion, there is no great consensus about Clinton's skills. In fact, it's not difficult to find both conservative and liberal commentators who agree and/or disagree about Clinton's campaign skills. I've posted them here before and I can post them again. My point is not to prove that Clinton is any type of campaigner (brilliant or poor) but rather to prove that the point is arguable. That is a relatively easy point to prove. The simple solution is to pick from one of the quotes above or find another that you prefer. It's too easy to get hung up on political labels and thus be unable to see best path to neutrality. Will Nesbitt 14:21, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
who does Nesbitt think are the consensus-best campaigners of the last 50 years? Lets put some alternative names on the table. Richard Jensen 14:44, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

I find this discussion very strange. It is not unreasonable for Will to ask for academic sources, rather than political allies' and supporters' opinions. It should not be difficult to find some! As far as superlatives are concerned, my feeling is that it is not a comparison with other campaigners, it is rather a theoretical position suggesting that it is difficult to imagine anyone doing better. Such a conclusion should be supported by analysis, rather than simply being claimed. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:27, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Nesbitt himself cited David Brooks making the point, then dismissed him as a Democrat! Brooks is a leading conservative, the columnist for NY Times. The article cites standard books by experts, all of whom agree on Clinton's amazing campaign skills. Nesbitt is making an artificial controversy and he is not citing any experts who support him (because there are none). Richard Jensen 15:42, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

I did not put David Brooks on the table, nor did I dismiss him. I followed the footnote which led to a search engine which lead to a website with a quote from Mr. Brooks. I quoted the website that was sourced (with a simple cut and paste). The source gave not indication of who Mr. Brooks was or why this was a worthwhile resource. It was just a a picture of John Edwards with a quote about Clinton. If this article chooses to quote Mr. Brooks, I have no problem or issue. My only issue is that this article should not take a stand on "best campaigner", "brilliance" or other value judgment. Will Nesbitt 18:03, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

I think when judging a politician's skill at something, you will always find a dissenting opinion. There does appear to be a significant amount of commentary referring to Clinton's campaign skills. I suggest the best way to qualify this in the article is to note something like "Clinton is widely regarded as..." with links to several footnotes to back this up. --Todd Coles 21:43, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
I put in almost exactly this same phrase some time ago but Prof. Jensen deleted it on the grounds that experts had already decided Clinton was brilliant and that there was no purpose in discussing it any further. Hayford Peirce 10:15, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

I'm deleting this "vote." Until we actually discuss and decide that we will take open "votes" about these issues, a la Wikipedia, we aren't going to do it. --Larry Sanger 05:13, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

Todd, thank you for stating my point more eloquently. I agree with your solution completely. Will Nesbitt 09:55, 6 August 2007 (CDT)


Proposition: This sentence "Clinton has become a major fundraiser and campaigner for his wife, with his special appeal to the African American vote to neutralize her main opponent, Barak Obama" is very nearly factual, but is mostly editorial. A better sentence would be: "Currently, Clinton is a major fundraiser and campaigner for his wife." With a source to support this claim."

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

the issue of the black vote is very important in Dem primary, and the experts report it as a contest between Obama and BILL Clinton. CZis not taking sides for or against any candidate here. Richard Jensen 00:43, 6 August 2007 (CDT)
I agree. The issue is important. Importance and relevance are two different things. Let's stick to relevant facts and avoid editorials at all costs. Will Nesbitt 09:53, 6 August 2007 (CDT)
Will, what's the problem at all? Why would the above be a better sentence? The original sentence is both true and uncontroversial, isn't it? --Larry Sanger 03:32, 7 August 2007 (CDT)


Commented this section out, too. Reinstated. Maybe you, Richard and Will, are proving that the Dispute Watch regime is a failure, but this section began with something that wasn't a clear proposition about how to change the text. It merely listed some quotations (albeit very interesting) that establish that

To comment an issue brought up here. The fact that some experts say X does not entail that CZ should state X without attribution or qualification. If there are other experts who deny or doubt X, and even if there are significant portions of the non-expert population who disagree with X, it follows that we must attribute X to the experts if we state X at all. This is our policy, and frankly, I have no idea why anyone would object to it. It's perfectly innocuous: so, say it, but then attribute it. CZ is guided by experts and it does reflect expert opinion first and foremost. But it is also guided by a neutrality policy that acts as an important qualifier of expert opinion.

Furthermore, Richard, if you as an editor in this area don't want to participate in Dispute Watch, let me know, and we will remove this article from Dispute Watch.

I will be e-mailing you individually and trust me, this time we will solve the problem permanently. --Larry Sanger 03:59, 7 August 2007 (CDT)

Larry, this succinct statement describes my understanding of the neutrality policy. Thanks for you efforts. I know this is a difficult task, but we appreciate it, even when it seems like we don't. Will Nesbitt 08:19, 7 August 2007 (CDT)

What the experts say

Here's what experts say:

  • "The [1992] victory was clearly a result of Clinton's superiority as a campaigner, combining

broad knowledge and clear articulation of issues, unbounded personal energy ..."[1]

  • "Clinton proved to be an agile and resourceful campaigner, supported

by a good organization and ample funding." [2]

  • "Clinton: Quiet Momentum The Comeback Kid is a fierce campaigner" (Washington TIMES< right wing newspaper)
  • " that consummate campaigner" [3], British journal of political science
  • "campaigner Clinton came on strong" [4]
  • "the Great Campaigner" London Review of Books
  • "Clinton is known as "the Great Campaigner." US pol Sci journal [5] Richard Jensen 15:54, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

I would support inserting any of these quotes into the article.

I suggest balancing these quotes with alternative viewpoints such as liberal Sam Smith who wrote: "CLINTON WAS NOWHERE NEAR as good a politician as the Washington media and political establishment has claimed and the myth has proved to be a destructive fantasy for the party." This is a quote from Shadows of Hope: A Freethinker's Guide to Politics in the Time of Clinton by Sam Smith co-author of 50 Reasons Not to Vote for Bush. Here's a complete breakdown of why this liberal author has written a book to deconstruct the Clinton myth. Will Nesbitt 18:17, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Smith is a left winger who complained that Clinton failed to pass a left-wing agenda in hisfirst year in office. He does not comment on Clinton the campaigner.Richard Jensen 00:56, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

Smith's commented on Clinton's campaigning by charging that the Clinton legacy is "Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions" and "Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad" and "47 individuals and businesses associated with the Clinton machine were convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes with 33 of these occurring during the Clinton administration itself." [1] Would you prefer a right-wing assault on the claims of Clinton's greatness?

BTW, you have misunderstood this as my personal assault on Clinton it is not. I also oppose the descriptor of Clinton as "a mediocre speaker". We cannot say with absolute certitude that Clinton is "brilliant" this or "mediocre" that. Those are opinions. Let's stick to facts and quote others for opinions. Will Nesbitt 09:52, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

"Do no harm" should be our motto. When we say "some believe XYZ" users read that as "some do NOT believe XYZ". In the Clinton issues discussed here (on campaigning and speaking) there is unanimity among experts (including Sam Smith who was mis-characterized--he actually equated Clinton to the best campaigner of the 20th century--it was Clinton's POLITICAL GOALS Smith denounced). As for "opinions" --yes that is what encyclopedias are full of: the opinions of experts. We are built around that and the notion that there are "facts" versus "opinions" is very poorly formulated misunderstanding of scholarship. Richard Jensen 10:26, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

Only experts can tell the difference between "facts" and "opinions" (because facts are what experts agree on). They do this by intense in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources, with sustained debates in serious forums. CZ (as opposed to Wikipedia) has made a commitment to reliance on the experts and scholars. Richard Jensen 10:47, 6 August 2007 (CDT)
That's your opinion. ;^)
Seriously though, I may be wrong but after some reflection I think that statement reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the neutral policy of CZ. As I understand it, we are here to provide information and the reader is there to decide. However, it's not my place to put an editor in check. Therefore, I think we'll want to check this one with the Editor-in-Chief.Will Nesbitt 11:11, 6 August 2007 (CDT)
CZ policy: 2. t will be the project's aim to make the content of the Citizendium:
       * accurate
       * based on common experience, published, credible research, and expert opinion
       * neutral in this sense
       * legal and responsible
       * family-friendly from [6] Richard Jensen 12:48, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

Footnote #1

That takes us down to Klein, who I assume is Joe Klein, but then the link does *not* take us to a Klein citation. Shouldn't there be a clear "Source" that tells us what the Klein reference is? I.e.,


  • Presidents I Have Known and Scorned, by Joe Klein, Time magazine, July 4, 2005, page 24

...said Hayford Peirce (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)

A comment was removed from the talk page here because the article is under dispute watch. The comment was not on-topic for a particular proposition. Please do see CZ:Dispute Watch for background.

the Klein reference is to his full-length book on the clinton presidency which is cited in the bibliog Klein is a top political reporter and expert on campaigns see [7] and [8] Richard Jensen 01:02, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

I'm sorely tempted to delete the above exchanges as they do not make use of {{prop}}: will you please convert them now? --Larry Sanger 22:04, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

the question was what was the ambiguous Klein reference, and I answered it (his recent book on Clinton)Richard Jensen 00:37, 7 August 2007 (CDT)

Hold off

How about no more than two propositions per person at a time? This is to keep things manageable.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 20:03, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

The page is beginning to look hilarious:-) Probably, your two propositions per person per day should be in the rules. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:06, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

I added this.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 20:45, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Changes to this article

Any substantive changes to this article must be discussed here first. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:56, 6 October 2007 (CDT)

Indeed--and I will add that only experts are able to separeate fact and opinion. The article is now well balanced and factual.Richard Jensen 15:52, 6 October 2007 (CDT)


Clinton was implicated in an illegal fundraising from the PRC government, dubbed "Chinagate", should it be discussed in the article? Also, the article says he and Reagan are two best campaigners, how about John F. Kennedy? Yi Zhe Wu 21:16, 6 October 2007 (CDT)

the Catholics LOVED Kennedy, but more as a symbol than anything else. He overwhelmed his opponents with family money, and otherwise was not especially good at campaigning. Richard Jensen 22:24, 6 October 2007 (CDT)
If you have well-sourced information on the illegal fundraising, I think it should be included. It might help with some of the arguments here about pro-Left bias, to include it.--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:31, 6 October 2007 (CDT)
Wikipeida has a featured long article on this particular issue, I think there are some sources listed that are useful. Myself is not a Clinton historian and did not like him as a president, especially his Darwinian welfare reform that hurts millions of poverty-stricken Americans (that is considered "Left"?) Yi Zhe Wu 10:03, 7 October 2007 (CDT)
the "Chinagate" business did not directly touch Clinton; only the GOP alleged that when it was looking for mischief. Richard Jensen 17:23, 7 October 2007 (CDT)
My concern is that whether the president actually accepted money from the PRC government, and I am confused by those articles (still not knowing he did or not). Yi Zhe Wu 19:15, 7 October 2007 (CDT)
he did not. that would be an impeachable crime--he was impeached, but not for THAT. Richard Jensen 19:27, 7 October 2007 (CDT)

Recent campaign

Has the article talk about the recent campaigns he conducts to first help elect his wife, and now Obama, to the presidency in the 2008 election? Yi Zhe Wu 17:14, 3 September 2008 (CDT)

Also I started the scandals and impeachment section. I don't know a lot about those scandals (many "-gates" and Monica). Someone who is an expert of Clinton presidency please expand the section. Yi Zhe Wu 17:41, 3 September 2008 (CDT)