Clinton is trying to present himself as a wise and kindly philanthropist these days. From the beginning of the transcript, before Chris Wallace asks him about bin Laden:
So what you can do as a former president, you don’t have as wide a range of powers so you have to concentrate on fewer things. But you are less at the mercy of …events. If I say look we’re going to work on economic empowerment of poor people, on fighting aids and other diseases, on trying to bridge the religious and political differences between people and on trying to avoid the worst calamities of climate change and try to revitalize the economy in the process, I can actually do that. Because tomorrow when I get up and there’s a bad headline in the papers, it’s President Bush’s responsibility and not mine. That’s the joy of being a former potus. And it is true that if you live long enough and have discipline in the way you do it — like this [Clinton Global Initiative] — you might be able to effect as many lives as you did when president.He said almost those exact words to the same question-prompt when he was on "The Daily Show" this week. He wants to be the mellow, above-the-fray ex-president, but he really can't control the presentation. And now that he's shown how raw and angry he is about the criticisms, it's not going to get any easier.
Actually, I don't mind seeing him angry. He should be angry about this. I'd like to think that when he was in office he had this kind of edge and was not good-natured and relaxed. Of course, he's pissed at his critics, and it's fine for him to be the kind of guy who gets pissed. That doesn't mean his critics aren't right about a lot of things, but there's nothing really wrong with him getting angry like this. I assume a good part of it is that he's angry at himself for the opportunities he can now see he missed.
It's just unusual, as Chris Wallace says at the end of the interview, for anyone -- anyone important -- to act like that on TV.
UPDATE: I'm just watching Chris Wallace on FoxNews talking about the interview. He says, "I've been in the business a long time, and I've never seen anything quite like this, certainly not involving a President or former President." He notes that this is the first time Clinton has given FoxNews a one-on-one interview and that it was subject to the requirement that half of it be about the CGI. After talking about the CGI, Wallace introduced the subject of going after bin Laden, which, Wallace says, you'd think he'd be prepared to talk about, but: "He went off." Wallace, "mindful of the 15 minute rule," tried to bring him back to the subject of the CGI, but he wanted to go into Somalia and the USS Cole. Brian Wilson, who's interviewing Wallace, says that the short clip from the interview reminded him of Clinton's oft-seen, finger-wagging about "that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Wallace responds that he didn't think he was badgering or baiting Clinton, but "he just seemed set off," perhaps because of the "Path to 9/11" documentary. "He just feels ill-used on the issue of how much he did to go after the war on terror, and he lets it all spill out on 'FoxNews Sunday."
ANOTHER UPDATE: I've changed the link for the transcript to the official Fox News transcript. And I wrote about watching the interview here.