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Above All That Drama

Polls of historians and political scientists have generally ranked Clinton as an above-average president. A 2017 C-Span poll of historians ranked Clinton as the 15th best president. A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Clinton as the 13th best president.

Clinton's "third way" of moderate liberalism built up the nation's fiscal health, resisted Republican attacks, and put the nation on a firm footing abroad amid globalization and the development of anti-American terrorist organizations.

Addressing Clinton's legacy, Russell L. Riley writes:

Clinton managed to remake the image and operations of the Democratic Party in ways that effectively undermined the so-called Reagan Revolution. His "New Democrat" Party co-opted the Reagan appeal to law and order, individualism, and welfare reform, and made the party more attractive to white middle-class Americans.

At the same time, the reborn party retained traditional Democratic commitments to providing for the disadvantaged, regulating the excesses of the private market place, supporting minorities and women, and using government to stimulate economic growth. Moreover, Clinton capitalized on growing dissatisfaction with far right-wing extremism within the Republican Party.

Nevertheless, Clinton's claims to a lasting, positive legacy for the Democratic Party have been severely undermined by two realities: the shift in control of Congress to the Republican Party on his watch and the loss by his would-be successor, Vice President Al Gore, in the 2000 presidential election. Thus, Clinton's partisan legacy remains complex and uncertain.

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