Adam McKay thinks Bill Clinton was ‘one of the worst presidents in the modern age’


Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attends the inaugural ‘This Can Happen’ conference

Are you looking forward to Vice? That’s the Adam McKay-directed bio-pic about Dick Cheney, with Christian Bale starring as Cheney and Amy Adams starring as Lynne Cheney. I think the movie looks good, but I did have concerns that it would treat a war criminal like a cuddly con artist, or that the Cheneys would be humanized, and all of that. Well, Adam McKay, Bale and Adams all sat down for The Hollywood Reporter’s cover story, and I came away feeling like… okay, maybe McKay didn’t humanize Cheney after all? Bale wanted to find the humanity in Cheney, for sure, but McKay wasn’t interested. McKay scorched the f–k out of everyone involved with the Bush administration, and his quotes were the most interesting and noteworthy. Some highlights (all quotes are from McKay):

McKay think Bush was an idiot: “George W. Bush is really going to hate this movie. I think there’s going to be a backlash from the Bob Woodwards of the world, who went the opposite direction with the narrative. Their idea was, ‘Bush is smarter than you think. He actually did a lot.’ I did a lot of research on that. And boy, do I strongly disagree. I couldn’t find any evidence that Bush was surprisingly competent. I just didn’t see it.”

He thinks Bill Clinton was a bad president: “I legitimately think Bill Clinton is one of the worst presidents in the modern age. I really do. I think his presidency has aged so poorly: the deregulating of the banks. His personal life [in light of] the #MeToo movement. Like, shame on all of us. I at least was at SNL making fun of him with some cold opens. But man, they let that guy off the hook. I think he killed the Democratic Party. … I would say Jeb over Bill Clinton.”

He thinks Trump is better than Bush/Cheney: “I would choose Trump over Bush and Cheney… Dick Cheney was the safe-cracker, the professional you brought in who knew all the ins and outs of our government. He was the ultimate gamesman. With Trump, the front door to the White House is wide open. There’s deer and dogs and hyenas running around. And this guy is like an orangutan just throwing sh-t around. But Cheney was the grand master who finished the deal. Donald Trump has no belief system. So I would take the hyenas, the random wild animals running through the White House over Cheney any day of the week. If Cheney had stayed in office — let’s say we didn’t have term limits, and he was able to go another four, eight years — they would have invaded Iran.”

On being criticized by Joe Scarborough: “He wrote something like: ‘Adam McKay is very biased,’ so I was like, ‘I wonder what Joe Scarborough said about the Iraq War.’ Beep, beep, beep [miming Googling]. Oh, well, you know, vehement supporter of it. I don’t think anyone who supported the Iraq War should hold office anymore. I don’t think anyone who supported the Iraq War should be a legitimate pundit on television. Like, you failed the biggest test that we had.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

As I was reading this cover story, I was reminded yet again of how many people were wrong about the Iraq War and how almost all of them never had to face any consequences for it. I was one of those wide-eyed liberals who believed that once Bush and Cheney were out of office, we would have a reckoning, as a country, about the Iraq War and how intelligence was falsified and how Cheney gamed the “liberal media.” But the reckoning never happened, and there was no “truth and reconciliation” moment in politics or the media. And I think those compounded failures led to Trump.

All that being said, I think McKay is full of it when it comes to Clinton’s presidency being one of the worst. The Clinton presidency wasn’t the best thing ever, and of course we should turn a critical eye to all of it. But “Bill Clinton is one of the worst presidents in the modern age”? Really? A modern age which included Dubya and Trump???

Embed from Getty Images

Cover courtesy of THR, additional photo courtesy of Getty.

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103 Responses to “Adam McKay thinks Bill Clinton was ‘one of the worst presidents in the modern age’”

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  1. OriginalLala says:

    Trump is the worst president of the modern age. Fixed it for you Adam!

    • Jerusha says:

      Trump is the worst president since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Updated it for you.

    • Arpeggi says:

      He didn’t say Clinton was the worst, he said one of the worst and he’s actually not wrong. We tend to overlook some stuff because of the terrible republican POTUS that came after, but Clinton was super sketchy, so much time was wasted because of that, and the 2008 crisis is partially his administration’s fault.

      From a US-centered perspective, Trump is the worst. From a global perspective GWB’s administration has been the worst. What they’ve done led to the death and displacement of millions of people and some countries will suffer the consequences for decades to come. Let’s not forget that W was not only a warmonger but also a born-again fundamentalist and some of the anti-homosexuality laws we’ve seen appearing in African countries directly from the policies of this administration. And Bush’s people are also to blame for the Tea Party rhetoric (that’s all Rove’s doing) and all that led us to Trump. Both W and the dotard should be in jail.

      • Rulla says:

        Exactly. And I think it was Clinton who pretty much dismantled welfare to appease the cons. People are still suffering from his centrist policies.

      • Milla says:

        I absolutely agree with your thoughts. Apart from Obama, I don’t think any potus in modern era has been anything but a lowlife. They all wanted blood of innocent and didn’t have any moral values, not even tried to hide that what they are/were.
        Good old Billy was charming and smart, sharp, he appeared to be one of you, his pr was amazing. Some people still don’t see all the issues he caused, cos he’s still acting. He is like Tony blaaah, never cared for his country, never cared that he’s living it in a mess, in short, don’t trust politicians.

    • charo says:

      Clinton left us a good economy and a SURPLUS! Which W. promptly decimated invading Iraq.

      How does he compare these two and not see that?

  2. CharliePenn says:

    I am just so ready to tear all these ole white men down from their high places so sure, add Bill Clinton to the pile. I’m done with all of it, all of them!

  3. Sam the Pink says:

    Worst? Hmm. I think that’s debatable. Worse then a guy like Nixon, who brought the office into disrepute (although, honestly, Nixon’s actual policies weren’t that bad, it was his personal shortcomings that did him in).

    But I do think Bill Clinton did a huge amount of damage in other ways. Especially with the conversation around sexual harassment and women. Jake Tapper mentioned a while ago that Bill is the biggest hurdle to Democrats being taken more seriously then the Republicans on that issue. As long as Bill is around – and his supporters – Dems can’t meaningfully talk about “supporting women.” (Though it’s not just Bill – look at what happened with Keith Ellison). Bill is a big reason why many Americans don’t take the Dems seriously when it comes to sexual harassment and gender issues. Now, they do seem to be pushing him into the background, but I still feel like the party is going to have to make a reckoning of it. I’d certainly feel better about them if they did.

    • Snowflake says:

      But Bill’s was a consensual affair, I dont see why people get so worked up about it. My mom, a Trump supporter, said, oh, he did it in the WHITE HOUSE, trying to make him out as being worse than Trump. To me, it’s not a big deal. it was in a building, a consensual affair. Old man, young girl trying to sleep up the ladder, happens all the time. To me, that’s totally different from me too stories of sexual harrassment and assault. So I don’t get why that is considered a big deal but Trump gets a pass. Not speaking about you, just what I’ve heard from people in general.

      • minx says:

        Agree. And the Clinton years were peaceful and prosperous.

      • Dixiebells says:

        Because of the power disparity. Yes she started it. Yes she wanted it. It was on him to shut it down the second she initiated it. And he didn’t. The whole me too conversation has rightly started a conversation about power dynamics. You can’t talk about one without the other. Is she the same as other victims? No. But I also feel like it’s disengenous to write off the Clinton/lewinsky affair as nbd because it was “consensual”. People in positions of power in the workplace (or anywhere) have responsibility. He ignored his. That makes him a scum bag and a creep.

        I don’t know what the HR policy of the White House was in the 90s but today the correct answer to this would have been disciplining/reassigning her for initiating the inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace. No one is saying she’s totally innocent and victimized. That should have come from her boss. Instead someone in a power position maintained the affair. That puts it in the universe of sexual harassment. Maybe not as cleanly as my boss said I would be fired if I didn’t sleep with him. But it’s still an abuse of power on sex at work. Sexual harassment is about power. He abused his.

      • burdzeyeview says:

        @snowflake – you could say that about the #MeToo movement that started with Weinstein..”Old man, young girl trying to sleep up the ladder, happens all the time”. Lewinsky was a young impressionable intern, he was POTUS – abuse of power IMO. I would argue with you it was not quite as consensual as some people like to think.

      • Arpeggi says:

        The thing is that Monica Lewinsky wasn’t the only woman… I highly doubt that all the women he grabbed, told salacious things to and, yes, slept with throughout the years were consenting. And even with Lewinsky, the power dynamic made it wrong. We would judge a university prof who’d use his status to sleep with undergrads even if they are consenting, no? I’d tend to believe that being POTUS makes you way more powerful than a prof. It also makes you more at risk for bribery and extorsion and that’s also hugely problematic when you hold such a powerful position.

      • cr says:

        “Because of the power disparity. Yes she started it. Yes she wanted it. It was on him to shut it down the second she initiated it.”
        This. He should have had her on a plane back to Portland ASAP after she flashed her thong. He chose not to.
        Lewinsky was also dragged through the mud by both Republicans and many Democrats.

        As for Clinton’s policies, there were some bad ones, and he was never a progressive, he was always a centrist. He also had to deal with a increasingly right-wing Congress after 1994. As my friend said at the end of his term ‘if you didn’t have issues with him you weren’t paying attention.’ And she voted for him twice.
        But he wasn’t one of the worst presidents of modern times, he wasn’t even the worst Dem president of modern times.
        Also, because of Clinton we have The Notorious RBG (may the Flying Spaghetti Monster always watch over her).

      • Otaku fairy... says:

        @burdseyeview: Monica Lewinsky really doesn’t compare to Weinstein’s victims because they were actually sexually assaulted/harassed, threatened, and blackmailed by him. Monica admits that she consensually pursued and carried on an affair with him based on attraction.
        I still think the affair was wrong and foolish- mostly on Bill’s part. As people have said, it was mainly his responsibility to shut that down as the most powerful man in the world and as the married person. But two adults don’t have to be on the same level of power for sex to be consensual, and adults aren’t being abused/ harassed/victimized when they decide to act on their fantasy of banging a powerful famous man or woman. A power imbalance was present, but that power wasn’t used to either pressure the less powerful person do something they didn’t want to do or punish them for not complying. I also can’t agree with the idea that at 22 (and it actually continued until she was 24), Monica was too young to know better. I do think Monica has more than paid for the bad decisions she’s made though.

      • Sassbr says:

        She was 21, and an intern, and he was the POTUS AND her boss. The lines of consensual sex blur. Meanwhile-he was also accused of rape.

      • Dixiebells says:

        @otaku fairy no two adults don’t have to be at the same level of power for it to be consensual… in private. This was AT WORK. It’s not even gray area, it was literally in the most famous office in the world.

        I administer the SH policy including the caveat on amorous relationships in my job. More than once we’ve had people in the office who were both consenting and wanting the relationship, but because one is the others persons boss guess what… policy violation and disciplinary action. That may seem harsh and like it’s taking people’s autonomy away but it is pretty standard in most workplace SH policies. As has been discussed the concern is about power and the potential abuse of it.

        As a specialist in this field him not shutting down her advances as soon as they started as the more senior (most senior!) employee is the most egregious part of the whole mess. And that’s even with me fully acknowledging she started it. She should have been disciplined appropriately and this would have been a non-thing. (Side note: my autocorrect tried to make that non-thong)

      • Suz says:

        @snowflake – but what he did to Paula Jones in 1991 was not consensual.

      • Sis says:

        You’re ignoring Juanita Broadderick (who was a Democratic operative who credibly claimed Bill Clinton raped her when she was supporting his campaign). Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and numerous other women. Come on, we have to admit there was a lot more than Monica Lewinsky. It’s a real issue.

    • Enormous Coat says:

      Clinton’s presidency marked a turn for the Dem party and it was one we are seeing as a major blunder. The party of Wall Street and de-regulation was a disaster. And his change to the welfare system also created a lot of problems, not to mention the anti-crime agenda. And the Lewinsky “affair” was the world’s most powerful man taking full advantage of a 21 year old intern. Bill Clinton is a sleaze & he was not a great President by any stretch.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        It’s a pretty standard mark in our history regarding presidents. That when they change something the full effect happens post term. Theres that immediate spike and then the plateau. Which is why presidents inherit previous presidents issues.

        Clinton had an affair with an adult. It was consensual. And Monica stated he didnt manipulate her. She was attracted to that power.

        Anyway I’m of the mind you can show me a president that hasn’t had an affair holding office and I’ll show you a liar.

      • Millenial says:

        Obama certainly didn’t have an affair in office. I’d even be a little surprised if W did. I don’t think we can say all presidents have affairs.

      • Jerusha says:

        No affairs holding office?
        Obama and Carter, certainly. Probably W and Ford, even Reagan and Nixon, most likely. To go even farther back, Truman. And prior to FDR, a few more, I imagine.

    • perplexed says:

      I don’t think Bill Clinton got away scot-free? He did face impeachment from Congress. He had to answer humiliating questions about the affair through the media, through depositions and through video testimony. Hillary was criticized no matter what stance she took. Chelsea had to be peace-broker holding both their hands. He did face consequences in a way that Brett Kavanaugh never did. People will forever have arguments as to how he used his power to have a consensual affair, but I think it’s rewriting history to claim he never faced the wrath or consequences of people gunning for what he did. I also think Monica Lewinsky’s story is a hard one to decipher (i.e why did she save the blue dress if her hope was to avoid humiliation?) so I don’t think she would necessarily get the same sympathy as someone targeted by Anthony Weiner (ew).

      Pretty much every Democratic politician has had to face some kind of reckoning when their sex behaviour has come to light. I don’t necessarily think the same can be said for Republican politicians — they keep getting rewarded by their part with the chance to keep running and praise from Donald Trump. WTF.

    • Honey says:

      Yes. The Clinton years were prosperous for me and a lot of people. Many of us have fond memories of that time. Robert Reich was a very good Secretary of Labor as well. However, there were some big negatives too.

      Clinton’s (and Dick Morris’s) overall crime was trying to out republican the republicans in his fight against Newt Gingrich and the House. In his fight, Clinton moved us more toward the right. Also, under his presidency neoliberal policies (deregulation and the dismantling of public aid for needy families) got more traction and the overly harsh criminalization of crack users and the sentencing disparities between crack and cocaine possession and distribution (especially for young black men) were atrocious and devastated a lot of black communities.

      Rating Clinton is a mixed bag. We / I felt good. That’s true. I do remember his Administration with a sense of fondness. However, the negative impact of some of the policies just can’t be disputed.

  4. Indiana Joanna says:

    OMG, McKay is not anyone I’d ever look to for cogent political commentary. Bush & Cheney are on the same political spectrum of hideous behaviour just a few markers apart from drump & Mother’s husband who are monstrous. Just because drump hasn’t started pointless wars that have done so much harm doesn’t mean he isn’t trying. So far he is dismantling our democracy while trying to sell off our country all to enrich himself. I won’t be watching this movie.

    I never liked or necessarily trusted Clinton, but I voted twice for him. He is not the worst president.

    • Betsy says:

      I wasn’t old enoug to vote for him in either election, but I agree with you. He wasn’t a perfect president by a long shot, but COME ON. Given how poorly our two most recent, unpopularity elected Repo presidents acted and are acting, how much worse would the GOP be by now if they had been in office then?

    • Mego says:

      Mother’s husband – good one ha ha!

  5. Sarphati says:

    I long for the days of W. We only had to worry about a stupid President. Not the devil himself. Students of history will point to the present administration when discussing the downfall of American hegemony in the free world. That is an accomplishment you can tweet about Mr. President.

    • Helen says:

      the downfall of american hegemony will be a great thing for the “free world.”

    • deezee says:

      I can tell you, the rest of the 1st world does not want an American hegemony. And the US hasn’t really been a true leader in a long time, but its citizens still think they’re a world leader.

      • Gl. says:

        @Sarphati , yes you, the US citizens, only had to worry about a stupid president. But what he did to the rest of the world, especially to the Middle East – well people living in that region had much more to worry about than just a stupid president elected in an overseas country. He destroyed lives. The repercussions are still going today. The Obama administration you are so in love with… well guess who instigated the so-called Arab spring? Who encouraged the armed opposition in Syria and actually provided them weapons and helped create the situation that millions of people had to flee their country and immigrate? @Darla – the power vacuum similar to the one you mentioned happened in Libya and Syria and changed the lives of millions of people in those countries and their neighbor countries. GWB was one of the worst things to have happened to the humankind because of the so-called hegemony of the US. I wish we would have been able to know him only as a stupid president just like you guys. Let’s hope that, for the sake of the humankind, no president ever tops his achievements in destroying lives.

        You American citizens are very privileged to have been able to worry only about the stupidity of your president whereas millions of people were killed, tortured, raped and had to immigrate

      • Rulla says:

        Thank for being much more eloquent than I am, GL. It astounds me how little Americans know of the destruction their government has caused and continues to cause abroad. Maybe they should ask the people in the caravan heading towards the US

      • Nic919 says:

        I am not American so I certainly see how the US has abused its power. That said, who steps in the vacuum? China? Because they care about human rights even less than the Americans. They are currently putting their Muslims in re-education camps. When the country in charge is not a liberal democracy things are going to get much worse than they currently are.

      • Nat says:

        Why must someone step in? We had 2 superpowers for 70 years. Then we had 1 for about 30 now? Who said we can’t have 3? or 5? Or none?

      • Darla says:

        Nat, because that’s not how power works. I wish it was. But it’s not.

    • Arpeggi says:

      W is a war criminal. Have a look at what Iraq looks like. Look at Yemen, Libya, Syria, the millions of people that have been displaced in the last 10 years… This is all W’s doing. Trust me, the rest of the world didn’t only worried about a stupid POTUS, a lot of the rest of the world worried about not dying as a result of this lying zealot decision.

      W, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney, Rove were monsters and should be in jail (yes, Powell too, he knew he was lying when he claimed to the Security Council that Iraq had WMD, he to is responsible)

      • G. says:

        Exactly. Millions of people died or were tortured or had to be replaced. Millions of women were raped and killed. The demographics of a whole region permanently changed. But as the rest of the world was dealing with all this, the privileged US citizens only had to worry about the stupidity of their president. Oh the horror!

      • burdzeyeview says:

        And Blair was complicit in all of it.

      • Arpeggi says:

        Don’t even get me started about Tony Blair

  6. Kaye says:

    Who the hell is Adam McKay and why should we give a rat’s a$$ about his opinion?

  7. minx says:

    Trump is the worst of the worst. McKay is an idiot.

  8. FarahH says:

    Trump is very horrible but it’ll be years before we see the damage he’s done. Bush crashed our economy and lied the world into wars we’re still fighting. You can’t say Trump’s worse yet that’s just revionist history. Think of the millions dead because of Bush

    • Scylla74 says:

      Not to forget: this immense refugee and migrant crisis also ultimately made Brexit happen. So indirectly the wars the US are fighting thousand of miles away are pretty destabilizing for the rest of the world.

  9. Jane says:

    He’s not wrong about Clinton. Practically everything he did has aged horrendously. He actually had the opportunity and ability to improve things, and instead he purposefully chose policies with short term upsides for himself and extremely long-term and far reaching downsides for America. He’s certainly the most selfish modern President, and that’s saying something with Nixon in the picture.

    And of course Cheney is worse than Trump. Trump is far more outwardly heinous and revolting, but as of now he’s not yet responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. I know Trump is a nightmare, but I wish people wouldn’t minimise what Cheney and Bush (and Blair) did.

    • Scylla74 says:

      This….

      My take on the election was that Trump will be horrible for civil rights but probably less of a hawk for the rest of the world (I still detest Trump deeply).

      But from an outsider perspective people were very afraid what country HC would turn into a “democracy” next….

  10. Diana says:

    No debate. Trump is the worst. It’s the saddest most inhumane time in modern history. Everything that was ever taught to us about being kind, supportive, honest people who work hard and love and forgive… is literally upside down. Infants in cages are you kidding me? And all the power hungry republicans doing all they can to maintain their male whiteness and money. These assholes can all go to hell.

    • Jane says:

      It’s not even close to the most inhumane time in America’s history. America’s history is one of genocide, slavery and war crimes.

    • Rulla says:

      Those values you mentioned were not applied to the rest of the world. Trump isn’t up in bush and obama territory yet. I don’t doubt he’ll get there though.

  11. Jen says:

    Clinton was pretty bad. Deregulating the banks had a huge hand in the financial crisis of 2008.

    • Dara says:

      I agree that de-regulation caused, or at least contributed, to the crisis, but the law itself was introduced by Republicans, and passed by the both the Republican-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate before Clinton signed it into law.

      It was also almost ten years between the law going into effect and the market collapsing, so there was plenty of opportunity to prevent the meltdown, but everyone was too busy getting rich from the boom to notice something really bad was about to happen. It’s reminiscent of what is happening now to be honest.

  12. Jess says:

    I agree that Bush/Cheney were horrible and did a lot of damage, both domestically and internationally (remember, they appointed Roberts, who had always been vocal about dismantling the Voting Rights Act – and they were focused on putting judges in place who believed in strong executive branch powers). I’ve hated the affection we’re seeing for Bush now because of Trump. And Cheney is pure evil. That being said, the difference for me between Trump and Bush is their supporters. As much as I hated Bush/Cheney I couldn’t get super mad at their supporters – even too many Dems fell for the post 9-11 lies. But what’s so upsetting about Trump is that he has shown us how awful so many Americans can be. So it’s the Trump supporters that make this administration so truly awful for me.
    One other note about McKay – I’m still ticked that this supposedly liberal advocate could work with Mel Gibson (in Daddy’s Home 2). He talks about Clinton and MeToo but then hires that horrible man.

  13. Sojaschnitzel says:

    Let me get this straight: so Clinton having adult fun with some consenting adult woman is worse than thousands of children being separated from their parents and being traumatized for the rest of their lifes?

    • ClaraAnn says:

      I didn’t realize Monica was an adult for a long time because I assumed the only reason Americans were so outraged was because she was underage. For a country so obsessed with sex and sexualizing women you sure all hate it when it’s convienent for you.

      My mother always said that Americans were just mad because Monica was fat and American men despise overweight women. If he had cheated on his wife with a cute, slim little thing no one would have been so angry. I don’t know how true that is.

    • Arpeggi says:

      I doubt that he was talking about the Lewinsky mess. That being said, throughout the years, there have been many women who came forward and say that Clinton did things without their consent and there are no reasons to doubt them all.

      But there was a lot of deregulations during the Clinton era and some of that led to the 2008 financial crisis, lots of cuts in the social safety nets. The rich became even richer, and lots of people had a great time, but it didn’t exactly trickled down to all. And maybe, if Clinton hadn’t been so murky, the administration would have spent more time looking at what was happening in the Middle East and to the former US ally Osama Bin Laden…

  14. Darla says:

    Yeah, Clinton is nowhere near one of the worst. And claiming he destroyed the democratic party that then went on to elect the first black president to two incredibly successful terms, is hilarious.

    Also, trump is way worse than W, and I do agree with him about W and cheney, I have no illusions about them, I don’t think trump makes them look good. But, trump’s worse. By far. We may not even get out of this.

    So, not impressed with this guy’s intelligence, and that turns me off to the film.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Locally, Trump may be worst, but look at the mess W, Cheney and their cronies created in the Middle East and the millions of people that died as a result of their lies: Bush has been far worst. Some countries might never come back from it and they never had a say in that election.

    • Rulla says:

      Clinton moves the Democratic Party to the right, so I’d say, he destroyed it. Multiple people have already mentioned the destruction of the ME and other parts of the world already.

  15. Lucy says:

    Modern era???? So according to ‘ultra-liberal/true progressive/real democrat’ Adam McKay Reagan was better than Clinton???

  16. Helen says:

    “And I think those compounded failures led to Trump.” bingo

  17. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    This guy sounds like the type of person who enjoys offering an opinion without actually thinking through his opinion, just for the sake of saying something. People like that should shut their mouths and open their minds more often than not.

    • Millenial says:

      It sounds like he did a lot of research, at least on the Bush administration, before the film. It’s his opinion sure, but I don’t think we can say it isn’t well thought out.

  18. Talie says:

    That’s the one thing that irks me about Michelle Obama’s publicity tour – her revamping of Bush’s image. And no one is calling her out. He stole the future from an entire generation with the economic collapse and the war.

  19. adastraperaspera says:

    He’s wrong about Bill Clinton’s presidency. And he’s spending time and money on a movie about Cheney? Even if the movie is a critical look, what the heck? How about a thoughtful, deep-dive documentary instead? In what world do we need to be watching actors play the Cheneys? I’ll never watch this. I do think this movie is a sign we’re now going to be subjected to dozens of men playing Oliver Stone and forcing their ahistorical versions of history on us for their own glorification.

  20. Honey says:

    I’m no fan of Bush or his Administration. However, I’ve always said that I’m sure if invited to his ranch down in Crawford that you’’ll have a good ole time and the best ribs you’ve ever eaten BUT he should have never risen to the level of president. Never.

  21. cate says:

    bad take. was clinton a saint? hell no. but you compare an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a self proclaimed sexual assault goon, who hates women, has no brains, and looks up children while taking NRA blood money while sittin in putin “i hate america” pocket? this is so warped. bush and cheney were vile. they started wars with false pretense, leading to the death and destruction of so many innocent lives. mckay is deranged.

  22. Lynne says:

    Clinton was chosen to lead the Dems, and was subsequently elected because of his looks. He had an excellent campaign and his wife was presented as half of the team vs the candidate’s wife. HRC would have been a much better president than Bill but the US was not ready to elect a woman at that time. His winning the election opened the door for her become a strong player, prove herself in high office so later be viable to be elected as first woman president. We knew her and we were comfortable….. Unfortunately the affair happened and being POTUS it wasn’t swept under the rug like the ones before plus, the family has way too much baggage that keeps coming up.
    She was a poor choice against Trump because of this.

  23. Div says:

    McKay is obnoxious. Some things about Clinton have aged poorly, but again, society has shifted further left and he was relatively liberal for his time. Deregulation was a mistake, but you can’t blame the 2008 economic collapse only on Clinton deregulating banks.

    Anyway, claiming Clinton was one of the worst of the modern age is just flat out wrong. Clinton was better than Regan, Bush, W., Nixon, and arguably even Carter due to Carter’s support of Suharto. This is what drives me nuts about some of my fellow progressives-you can be critical of Clinton but at least contextualize his actions.

    • Mia says:

      Dear god yes!

      I’d assume the “modern age” encompasses any president since, and including, Nixon. And Clinton would give a run for their money to all of them, bar Obama and possibly (but far from certainly) Bush the First. McKay feels that Clinton got off lightly for his mistakes and misdeeds? Seriously? Makes me want to hear this douchebag’s take on Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair…

    • Darla says:

      Thank you Div. Reading these comments I just shake my head. These people must be very young. They certainly did not know the 90′s I knew. There’s no context here. I mean, the CBC supported the crime bill for crikes sakes!

  24. Kk2 says:

    Three non Lewinsky related ways Clinton sucked: 1. His crime bill imprisoned lots of low level drug users, 2. Weeks after doing that, he deregulated banks, 3. He signed the defense of marriage act (yes Congress passed it with veto proof majority, but you can still make them veto it).

    And Lewinsky affair was gross and embarrassing. Because of power differential and the fact that he did it in the gd oval office.

    I’m a liberal but I don’t have a lot of love for Clinton. Don’t know where id rank him.

  25. Meg says:

    Adam mckay does a lot of complaining in this interview and i think he falls into the trap of someone who feels powerful when they complain, like doing so makes them the smartest guy in the room so he just keeps doing it-because making the points he did about trump and bush then to say clintin was one of the worst presidents, just doesnt add up.

  26. Keaton says:

    McKay’s comments suggest he’s cloistered, privileged and frankly more than a little bit ignorant.

    RE: Clinton.
    I agree with McKay that Clinton’s presidency isn’t looking as good in hindsight. I even agree that Clinton got away with some things he shouldn’t have. (Although I’d argue his chickens are coming home to roost NOW).

    But no, Clinton did not destroy the Democratic Party. People who make that argument ignore what happened during the Carter administration and the fact it lead to 12 years of Reagan/Bush. All of that preceded Clinton coming to office.
    FWIW I love Carter. I think he’s our best EX-POTUS. But he had the bad luck of being POTUS during a terrible financial crisis (stagnation & inflation, oil crisis, double digit interest rates).
    Carter also had the bad luck of the Iran Hostage Crisis dominating the nightly news for years and making a large part of the American people feel weak and shamed. To be honest, Carter also wasn’t the most effective communicator so he wasn’t able to rally the American people. I think that time period did more to harm the Democratic Party brand on the national level than anything Clinton ever did and it helped turbocharge the existing conservative movement. The Dems were truly in shitty shape nationally UNTIL Clinton, People act like the Dems were this thriving successful pure progressive party until Bill Clinton came along and somehow magically forced it to go down the middle. It was a shit show. Yeah the Dems still controlled the House & Senate (thanks incumbency effects) but the GOP conservative activists were worming their way up into power at the grass roots level. The right wing activists didn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere because of Clinton.

    RE: Trump vs Bush/Cheney
    Anyone that says Bush/Cheney is worse than Trump is ASTOUNDINGLY privileged. I think that’s obvious. But sure, let’s put aside the fact Trump has emboldened the most vile racist, xenophobic, misogynistic monsters in our society and made a huge number of Americans feel less safe. No biggie, right Adam? As long as wealthy white progressive bros can still bitch about Cheney like it’s 2003. But what about Trump’s wholesale slaughter of our democratic norms & institutions? What about his attacks on the post WW II rules based international order (that conveniently enough has harmed our fellow liberal democracies and emboldened far right racist nationalist authoritarian leaders.. Hmm). What about the fact he literally LIES to the American people every single day? Maybe those things just don’t matter to wealthy white progressive bros like McKay. Well I still say Trump is worse and far more dangerous simply because he has a cult of personality surrounding him that neither Bush nor Cheney did or do. The same people who love Trump hated Bush because of things like Medicare Part D, education reform and ESPECIALLY his attempt at immigration reform. (Never underestimate how much the racist fear of immigrants has fueled the MAGAt crowd). Don’t get me wrong, Bush had a terrible Presidency. I voted against him both times and remember bemoaning his 2004 win (“Why did we re-elect that idiot? WTF?”). But he left office with a 19% approval rating and a big chunk of the MAGAt cult hate him because he doesn’t show proper fealty to their orange clown god. There’s no chance that Bush, Cheney and the dreaded neocons will worm their way back into power while we’re focused on Trump’s sins.
    We’ve got far bigger fish to fry nowadays Adam McKay. I’ll take a pass on paying to see this film. *Yawn*

    • Arpeggi says:

      I don’t disagree with what your saying but your Bush vs Trump mostly takes into account the effects of the administrations in the US and not across the world. To compare the awfulness of the 2 administrations only from a local perspective is actually quite privileged. More than 600,000 civilians have died in Iraq since W lied about the presence of WMDs to justify an invasion and prove his daddy that he could win a war he had lost. Millions have been displaced because of all the disruptions in the Middle East and the rise of ISIS and I honestly doubt that Syria will be able to recover from all of it. While Trump is doing a horrible job in the US, his actions so far, aren’t as damaging as Bush’s were for the rest of the world.

      • Keaton says:

        No, my criticism of Trump is both from a local and international perspective. I’m not denying that the Iraq War was a huge mistake that has had a devastating impact. It was one of the worst foreign policy mistakes any POTUS has ever made. I’m not minimizing it.
        But similarly, we shouldn’t minimize the impact of Trump’s actions on the rest of the world either. It’s maddening to me that so many Americans (even on the left) downplay or ignore what he’s doing to the rules based post WW II international order and our alliances with fellow liberal democracies (which are under attack worldwide). Hell, he’s emboldening rightwing racist nationalist movements worldwide. That alone is damaging to other countries. Not to mention his treatment of people in Central America who are (largely) trying to escape grinding poverty and crime (some of which we are responsible for). Hell even with respect to the Middle East Trump is trash: Bush was pro Israel but at least his Admin paid SOME lip service to the rights of the Palestinian people. Trump on the other hand has Bibi so far up his ass… And don’t get me started on Saudi Arabia or what’s happening in Yemen.
        Trump has only been in office 2 years. Give him time. I think people in other countries are going to be feeling the negative impact of this Administration for a long time to come. That’s the sad and sickening thing: The US is being damaged but we’re still the last remaining superpower and incredibly wealthy and privileged compared to the rest of the world. We’ll bounce back to some degree but some of these other countries? Eh. (To clarify: I’m not espousing Bush era policies. I’m saying Trump’s policies aren’t better and in many ways will make things even worse for the rest of the world.)

      • Nat says:

        @Keaton
        Except no one is minimizing the impact of Trump’s actions. We merely contend that breaking the rules and alienating allies is still not quite as bad as killing millions of people. Rules can be re-established, allies can come around, but those people won’t get a second chance. So, honestly, it sounds to me like you’re the only one doing the minimizing here.

    • Mego says:

      Bush and Trump are terrible. Bush in a very covert sociopathic manner and Trump in an overt malignantly narcissistic manner. Both tremendously harmful and abhorrent. I lived through the Reagan years and his historical canonization gets massive eyerolls from me. The Republican party has a penchant for deplorable leaders and given their base (NRA and religous right) it is no surprise.

      • Christin says:

        I don’t buy the Saint Reagan efforts, either. Dirty tricks were played to make Carter look bad from the beginning, by actor Ronnie and his buddies. It was a slicker form of gaslighting than what we see today.

  27. U.S and them says:

    Name one American President from the last fifty years who wasn’t an imperialist corporate shill.

  28. Diana says:

    So agree with you @keaton!

  29. Willowy Willow says:

    + 1 Keaton .. and my I just add in reference to McKay’s feelings about Bill Clinton being a bad president:

    1. Bill Clinton’s personal life was a mess, to be sure. But …
    2. Mr. McKay seems to forget the Republican Revolution of 1994 . Thereafter, the House and Senate were controlled by the Republicans until the election of 2000. So .. Crack a history book, McKay. The house and the Senate BOTH had more than enough votes to nix any veto President Clinton could have pushed on the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act .. so to blame him for the act itself? Yes .. that seems logical.

  30. CK says:

    A lot of things that happened during the Clinton administration are terrible in hindsight, but folks who make that argument tend to ignore the positions of the populace back then. The same people that the Democratic Party of the 90s were answering to were the same folks that sent Reagan to the WH in a landslide and then entrenched his legacy w/ 12 years of Reagan/Bush governance. They didn’t just wake up in 1992 and say “Oh, let’s ditch the conservative policies and cultural norms that we mainlined for 12 years”. No, a 3rd party candidate, a terrible tax promise, and an older candidate came together to put a charismatic centrist Democrat in the White House. As such, we got policies that were sometimes bad, but also to the left of what the public wanted/demanded. Hindsight looks into policy always tend to leave out the demand for said policy from the public and the alternatives from said era.

  31. Delphi says:

    So many commenters on here behaving as though the only sketchy thing about Clinton was the Monica Lewinsky affair. There are multiple very credible allegations of rape against him, including (as someone said above) Juanita Broadrick. Once you start reading interviews with them or detailed reporting from back then (and newer Me Too/ I Believe Her reporting too) it’s impossible to look at him the same way.

    I understand what Adam McKay is trying to do here, and he isn’t saying that Clinton was a worse president than Nixon or Trump or Bush. But the main thing is that on the left we talk about how terrible they are while pretending as though Clinton was fine. We need to be clear that Clinton was *not* a great president, and it’s possible that he assaulted and raped multiple women.

    McKay is not letting Trump off the hook, and he’s not saying allegations of rape are better or worse than locking up children. All of these things are terrible things and we need to be honest about these enormous failures of leadership and personal character.

  32. Lucy says:

    I was born in 1981. I’d say Clinton is the 4th worst (after bush ii, regan, and trump). Obama is the only one I’m more or less proud of (his drones give me HUGE pause).

  33. Nat says:

    All these comments and not a single one takes issue with Clinton’s actions in Kosovo? Forgotten or written off as utterly justified? I thought that eventually even in the US there seemed to be a strong belief that America got involved there in large part as a diversionary tactic to distract from the Lewinsky affair.
    I’m fairly sure we have people from different countries that once made up Yugoslavia here, I’m surprised they haven’t chimed in.
    The whitewashing that happens every time we talk about American presidents is quite something. Hearing variations on “yes, Bush started a war under false pretenses, but his heart was in the right place” just blows my mind every time.

    • Div says:

      The NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia is widely accepted as ‘right,’ if flawed, by most of the left and right (with a few notable exceptions on both sides) in the United States considering the genocide that occurred in Kosovo. I understand that a fair amount of Croatians, and many Serbians, disagree, but intervention in this particular case was widely seen as justified by not only the US and nations that are part of NATO.

      There are other military actions one can object to with Clinton, as the Crime Bill, and Lewinsky, but again, people aren’t necessarily whitewashing Clinton as contextualizing his actions compared to other presidents and the cultural/social norms of the time. Every single US president’s administration has done something horrific and people judge administrations on that particular scale (Carter and Suharto, FDR and internment camps); it’s depressing and shows our relatively low standards, but it’s the truth and part of the reason is that our government itself is inherently deeply flawed.

      And McKay is doing the same thing here by comparing him to other presidents, he’s not judging Clinton without context. And he’s wrong, because Clinton, when compared to Bush, W. Bush, Nixon, Reagan, Ford, and Carter—was a better president than most.

  34. Jess says:

    So Bill Clinton cheated on his wife while in the Oval Office and then left Monica out in the cold and pushed the FBI on her to lie under oath and made her feel so bad that she contemplated killing herself … but yeah let’s run down trump. The world has gone mad!!!

  35. Veronica S. says:

    I dunno, the older I get, the more I feel Clinton may not age as well as we’d like to think. His legacy is certainly overshadowed by Gingrich’s petty Congressional moves, but in addition to the banks being deregulated and his sexual immorality, there was the NATO involvement in the Kosovo War that continued the American trend of invasive military violence with no productive follow through. His big appeal to everyone was the balanced debt, but that was more likely a result of Bush Sr’s tax increases than anything he did. Otherwise, he’s sort of a nothingburger overshadowed by partisan political games.

    Totally agree with him, though, that Bush is still worse than Trump. The latter is a demagogue and definitely is a risk to democracy and minorities if allowed to run amuck, and there’s no downplaying the impact of his actions even on an international scale, but over a million are dead because of the Middle Eastern wars – which are STILL GOING ON. We shouldn’t ever forget that. The Bush-Cheney administration is what set America on the path to Trump.

    • Darla says:

      Well, I agree with your last sentence. And that’s why I side eye never trumpers many of whom came right out of the W admin.

      But as for the body count, don’t forget we’ve got 13 million on the verge of starving to death in yemen while trumpy continues footsies with the saudis. And today, Mexican toddlers are choking on U.S. tear gas at the border. So…

      We will see won’t we?

      • Veronica S. says:

        The Yemen conflict started up under the Obama administration, so unfortunately, the blame isn’t squarely on Trump for that one. That we continue to do nothing about it after justifying wars elsewhere for less is just a continuation of revealing the inconstant “moral” argument that supposedly supported the Iraq invasion. Trump absolutely has the potential to be as bad, if not worse, than Bush-Cheney, but it’s a matter of whether people decide to show up in 2020 to do the right thing instead of pretending it doesn’t matter like it did in 2004.

  36. Tina says:

    Why do people like him constantly think the world has been waiting for their political analyses? He’s an actor, FFS!

  37. ValiantlyVarnished says:

    Clinton is directly responsible for the current prison industrial complex. He was the arbiter of the three strikes rule, his crime bill disproportionately affected POC – specifically black people. His financial deregulation directly led to the 2008 financial crisis. And don’t get me started on the s*it he did as far as American foreign policy. I am a lifelong Democrat…and McKay isn’t wrong. One of the worst Presidents in history? No. But someone who low key f*cked up this country for my generation and whose policy failures are STILL being felt? Hell yeah.

  38. Lala11_7 says:

    So…let me get THIS straight…

    Clinton…who passed FMLA…a policy that LITERALLY have kept folks from losing their jobs due to illness…etc…Hillary who TRIED to pass Universal Healthcare during that SAME time period…Clinton who signed executive orders so that BILLIONS of dollars could go into training and educating folks who were on welfare or unemployed (I know…because I was a receiver of one of those MAGNIFICENT programs that allowed me to get THOUSANDS of dollars of software training when I was unemployed)…Clinton who also poured billions into programs getting folks into decent housing…who laid down the infrastructure for the internet by financing that humongous task…who TRIED to make school free until the junior year in college and who TRIED to get a decent welfare bill passed…but folks didn’t go out in VOTE in the mid-terms and let the Republicans swarmed in…so we GOT what we GOT…Clinton who wanted to APOLOGIZE to Black folks for slavery, until he was hounded to death and the Republicans made sure THAT was taken off of the table too…THAT is one of the worst POTUS in modern day age?

    I will NEVER…as long as I am Black…watch another Adam McKay movie…

  39. isadora says:

    I’m not a fan of Clinton but calling him one of the worst presidents is a stretch. I don’t condone his indiscretion even if it was consensual. When you’re in position of power and married you should know better than that. But at least he has had a good economy to show for.

    Choosing between Bush & Twitler is choosing between 2 evils in their own right. And under which rock has he been living to give Tweedledum the benefit of the doubt? Cheney might be considered a secret smart chessplayer but having people like Stephen Miller, Bolton and the rest of Twitler’s cabinet who manage to implement awful policies is harmless?! Please get your head out your ass McKay.

    Throughout it’s history America did support questionable regimes for bita bit of money & oil all at the cost of innocent lives. At some point in time it comes back to bite them in the ass (as it has several times).

    American needs a long and hard introspection of it wants to see itself in the world. You can’t blurt out that you’re the champion of freedom all the while supporting regimes who opress people.

  40. Sal says:

    This dude is a Bernie Bro. Of course he hates the Clintons.