DURING THE BUILDUP for his renomination tonight at the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton once mused that he sometimes wished he lived in a more challenging time -- specifically a time of war -- that could produce greatness in a president. He apparently had in mind the likes of Washington, Lincoln, Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. But if that is not to be, and God grant that it isn't, then he is willing to settle for Theodore Roosevelt as his model.
In a pre-convention interview with the Washington Post, Mr. Clinton said he hoped historians would write that for only the second time since the founding of the republic, a president guided the nation through a major change in the way people work, live and relate to one another "without a major war catalyzing it." "The first time," he said, "obviously being under Theodore Roosevelt's administration."
Among Clinton detractors, this could be a source of some amusement, since TR made it to the White House on the strength of his charge up San Juan Hill while Mr. Clinton got there in spite of his draft avoidance during the Vietnam war. But Mr. Clinton had another comparison in mind -- the rise of the industrial age at the beginning of this century and the transition to an information high-tech economy at its end.