Bill Clinton’s Presidency was so lacking in history-making events, yet so crowded with the embarrassing minutiae of scandalmongering, that it was easy to miss the great change that those years meant for the country and the Democratic Party. Clinton turned sharply toward deregulation, embracing the free-market ideas of his Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and the chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan. The results appeared to be spectacular. Here is Clinton’s version, in his final State of the Union Message, in 2000: “We are fortunate to be alive at this moment in history. Never before has our nation enjoyed, at once, so much prosperity and social progress with so little internal crisis and so few external threats.” The country had more jobs, higher wages, faster growth, bigger surpluses; it had replaced “outmoded ideologies” with dazzling technology. The longest peacetime expansion in history had practically abolished the business cycle. Economic conflict was obsolete. Education was the answer to all problems of social class. (His laundry list of proposals to Congress included more money for Internet access in schools and funds to help poor kids take college-test-prep courses.) “My fellow-Americans,” the President announced. “We have crossed the bridge we built to the twenty-first century.”
George Packer, “The Unconnected”, The New Yorker (31 October 2016), 52-53.