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Friday, March 31, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 123

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Fractured freedoms are Clinton's legacy

Adam D. Elrod

With the Clinton Administration slowly coming to a close, there has been quite a bit of attention (mostly from the president himself) about what the "Clinton Legacy" will be comprised of.

The president naïvely hopes that the history books will forget entirely about his apparent involvement in the myriad scandals that surrounded him, and focus only on the Reagan-induced prosperity that we now enjoy. 

The Republican congress hopes that history will remember only the scandals and corruption, and that discarded the President's inability to foul up our thriving economy from the record.

It is my belief that President Clinton deserves to be recognized for both. President Clinton's scandal-ridden administration deserves to go down in history as possibly the most corrupt administration this country has ever seen. He degraded the office of the president, transcended the rule of law and twisted the Constitution. For this he deserves to go down in infamy.

While Bill Clinton is not entirely responsible for our thriving economy, which is a direct result of the "Reaganomics" of the '80s, he does deserve credit for managing (despite his liberal tendencies) to continue the prosperity that Reagan began. He deserves credit for staying out of the way and allowing American entrepreneurs to carry our economy to unimaginable heights.

However, I do not believe that either of these should comprise the majority of the true Clinton legacy. The president's duty to Americans is to do everything within his power to preserve the freedoms and liberties that we are guaranteed in the Constitution, and it is on this scale that the legacy of a president should be judged. So, let us examine the actions taken by the Clinton Administration regarding the freedoms that we are entitled to.

Ever since Bill Clinton was elected to office in 1992, he has mounted a constant onslaught on our liberties. His strategy has been to choose a freedom that is only utilized by a small minority of Americans, such as gun ownership or smoking, and to mount an assault on this freedom on all fronts (executive, legislative and judicial).

Since this administration took office, it has slowly, but surely, assailed the smoking industry and all who are involved in it. It has, without congressional approval, imposed strict regulations on the sale of tobacco products. It forcibly discontinued decade-old ad campaigns run by cigarette companies. It imposed hefty taxes on consumers of tobacco products, so as to discourage their use. And it has begun instating lawsuits against tobacco companies for their products' harmful effects.

All of these actions have taken place in opposition to a business which markets a perfectly legal product. Since when do we allow the government to seek to collapse an entire industry simply because it is unpopular? The product carries all of the proper warnings, and everyone knows of its ill-effects. Thus, each person should be given the freedom to choose whether or not they use the product; each individual should suffer the consequences of their actions.

Al Gore requests that we ask the question, "Are we better off financially than we were eight years ago?" I implore you to ask the question, "Are we as free as we were eight years ago?" This nation may be on an economic upswing, but we are on a libertarian downslide. If left unchecked, could lead to the complete demise of the liberties that made this country the democratic icon that it is today.

Elrod, a junior political science major, 
can be reached at WhKnght007@aol.com.

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