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Editorials Dec. 30

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Pound foolish The local Clinton-haters were furious when the long and dirty campaign to destroy Bill Clinton failed. Now they’re barking because the new Clinton presidential library acknowledges that failure. Born to loathe. Here is the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette editorial page in full yelp about “the Clinton Library’s decision to squeeze the entire exhibit on impeachment into one not very prominent alcove at the library, as if his impeachment had been just a minor part of Bill Clinton’s presidency rather than its defining mark.” What defined the Clinton presidency was eight years of peace and prosperity; eight years of greater opportunity for women, blacks, Hispanics, gays and other minorities; eight years of increased emphasis on education — all of the things that are lacking from the George W. Bush administration, along with good English. Impeachment was indeed a minor part of Bill Clinton’s presidency, a partisan political ploy that would never have gotten as far as it did if Richard Mellon Scaife had less money, and congressional Republicans had more honor. Using the Democrat-Gazette’s unbalanced scale of significance, the “defining mark” of the Bush presidency would be his prancing around in a flight suit on the deck of a warship — political theater, as the Clinton impeachment was political theater, the difference being that Bush was a willing player and Clinton was not. The mythical weapons of mass destruction; the deaths of thousands of American servicemen and Iraqi civilians; the degradation of the environment; the special favors to the rich at the expense of the poor — these are not worth notice on the D-G editorial page. You can bet that when George W. Bush builds his library, they won’t be noticed there, either. Not the answer As a state Insurance Department official remarked the other day, it is probably too early to declare “tort reform” a failure based solely on the Arkansas experience. It is not too early to declare failure based on the experience everywhere else. The Arkansas law limiting the people’s right to sue those who’ve wronged them was enacted only in 2003, but similar laws have been on the books in other states long enough to measure any lowering of medical malpractice insurance premiums. Nowhere has “tort reform” achieved such a reduction, though lower malpractice rates are always cited as the principal justification for it. (“Tort reform” actually is intended to benefit insurance companies and corporate malefactors more than doctors, but proponents are loath to say so.) A recent Insurance Department evaluation of the Arkansas law found that it had produced no significant change in the malpractice market. It never will. “Tort reform” is designed to increase profits, not lower premiums.

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