Dee Dee Myers: Bill Clinton’s Narrow Victories

Roundup: Talking About History

[Dee Dee Myers was press secretary for President Bill Clinton]

Barack Obama, reeling from the Democratic defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race, isn’t the first president to get an unwelcome anniversary gift a year after taking office. On Jan. 20, 1994, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that, at President Bill Clinton’s request, she had appointed Robert Fiske as special counsel to investigate the Whitewater case. What we didn’t know then was that seven months later, Mr. Fiske would be replaced by Ken Starr, whose investigation would ultimately lead to the president’s impeachment. But what those of us on the Clinton staff were learning fast after 12 tumultuous months on the job was how little control we had over our own unfolding drama. The cockiness of the campaign was giving way to a humility imposed by history....

As the people in the Obama administration look back over the first year, and forward to the future, they should do all they can to move their agenda. But they would be wise to remember that forces more powerful than their best-laid plans will shape their fate. Today’s failure may be tomorrow’s success, or vice versa. And history will have the last word.

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