Bill Clinton loses an admirer

Bill Clinton’s slippery use of numbers turns a fan into a former fan. Sad.

Reader Alex F. demonstrates the infectious nature of CDS.* Reacting to this post, he writes:

I’ve been emailing that video out to friends and family and complaining about him to everyone I know. I’m an Obama supporter, but I like the Clintons, especially Bill Clinton. I really like Bill Clinton. I bought his book! I was proud to have him as the

President of the United States and the standard-bearer for the Democratic Party.

Honestly, when I first read the transcript of the video yesterday, this was my thought process: “Wow! I had supported the right of the casino workers to caucus, but I didn’t realize that the delegate allocation system gives them five times as much power as other voters. That is unfair. Those teachers really have a point, even if their suit was blatantly motivated by political considerations. I’m going to have to look up the caucusing rules myself now, but I have to say that Bill Clinton makes a very good argument here. Maybe those at-large caucus sites should be shut down.”

Well, I looked up the rules and found that &#8212 of course &#8212 he was twisting the numbers in a totally dishonest manner, dare I say lying. Nothing the Clintons have done over the course of the campaign has really bothered me… until this. I am angry at Bill Clinton, and I’ve lost a lot of trust and respect for him. And there was a lot for him to lose.

I assume that as a mathematically oriented academic, you have the same reaction I do: if you lie with numbers, especially to an audience that doesn’t have the background to call you on it, you simply cannot be trusted.

Now for the rest of my life any time he argues for a position with which I disagree, I’m going to have to look up every single fact he cites. I don’t want to have to treat Bill Clinton like I would treat a Republican op-ed columnist, but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

Sad. I remember wearing a saxophone lapel pin.

* CDS= Clinton Derangment Syndrome.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: