December 21, 2007

Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton: "Everything I'm saying here is my wife's position, not just mine."

Bill Clinton is out and about, burnishing his image, basking in the glow of attention. By the way, his wife is running for President. When he's not referring to that woman as "his wife," he likes to refer to her as "she":
"The reason she ought to be president, over and above her vision and her plans is that she has proven in every position she has ever had in life, whether it was in elected office or not, that she is a world-class genius in making positive changes in other people's lives."
Making positive changes in other people's lives.... It sounds so presidential so wifely.

World-class genius... Must we talk about that too? Two thoughts:

1. A man calls his wife a genius. Does it mean anything, even if he charges it up with the 90s modifier "world-class"? "World-class" actually detracts from it. If a man tells you his wife is a "great cook," are you more likely to believe it's anything more than the guy's preening about his own stature if he makes it "awesomely great"? If he tells you his wife looks like a model, does your mental image of her improve if he says she looks like a "super model"? A man is bragging about his woman: That places her ever more firmly in the position of his woman.

2. Remember the way people talked about John Kerry in 2004? Supposedly, he had a brilliant mind, full of "nuance" and "complexity." But, as I wrote at the time, the evidence was lacking. There was also some discussion back then about whether smarter actually is better for a President. But some people — dare I say, especially on the left? — are susceptible to the argument that the most intellectually brilliant candidate ought to win. And right now, these poor souls are being massaged by statements like Bill's about Hillary. So where's the evidence?

I've been reading Carl Bernstein's book "A Woman in Charge." Here's a passage:
By tenth grade, Hillary had realized that she was by no means the smartest member of her class, and that to compete at the top level of academic achievement she would have to work harder than others. She was an honor roll student by force of will, intense preparation, and dutiful study. Even with such extraordinary effort, her grade point average was too low to be among the top ten students in her class.
Meanwhile, Alan Greenspan's book "The Age of Turbulence" lavishes praise on Bill Clinton for his intellect (especially for his grasp of economics and his perception of how things would change in the future). Greenspan classes Bill Clinton with the smartest of all the Presidents he has known: Richard Nixon. Which brings us back to the point that "smartest" doesn't encapsulate what you really want in a President.

ADDED: I love found humor. I was just Googling around for some talk about the irritating adjective "world-class" — the usage panel does not accept it as "as a vague way of emphasizing magnitude or degree" — and I found this 2005 blog post from Brad Feld:
I heard the phrase "world class" three times today. I've decided to toss it on the scrap heap of "phrases that mean nothing to me anymore." I'm finishing up Friedman's The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century(which is awesome BTW - definitely a world class book – I’ll be done on my SF to Chicago trip Thursday night.) It dawned on me that the phrase "world class" isn't indexed against anything. No one ever says, "that's not world class, it's American class."...

In my first company, we talked briefly (I think about 60 seconds) about creating a mission "to be the best software consulting company in the world." After all the MIT / Brown / Wellesley people in my company laughed (“hey Brad, who gives a damn about a stupid vague unattainable mission like that?"), I / we realized that vapid phrases didn't inspire anything (except internal contempt). It took more than 60 seconds to come up with our mission, which was "We suck less."...

We delivered more often then not. So - while we never achieved that elusive "world class" status, we definitely sucked less most of the time. And - when I wandered down the hallways saying "guys - focus on sucking less - that's the key to our success", people rallied a lot more than if I had shouted "we are going to be world class" from the rooftops.
Of course, Bill Clinton can't be saying of Hillary, "She sucks less." But the truth is that's all most of us expect from a candidate, for them to suck less than the others.

54 comments:

Chip Ahoy said...

We know better. We saw her ad down there ↓.

rhhardin said...

of _his woman_.

But she is. You could possibly complain it should be ``one of his women,'' but that's somehing between him and Hillary.

Possession of people turns up all over in ways that are not at all objectionable.

Vicki Hearne in the course of attacking the modern idea of animal rights :

Possession of a being by another has come into more and more disrepute, so that the common understanding of one person possessing another is slavery. But the important detail about the kind of possessive pronoun that I have in mind is reciprocity: If I have a friend, she has a friend. If I have a daughter she has a mother. The possessive does not bind one of us while freeing the other; it cannot do that. Moreover, should the mother reject the daughter, the word that applies is "disown." The form of disowning that most often appears in the news is domestic violence. Parents abuse children; husbands batter wives.

Some cases of reciprocal possessives have built in limitations, such as "my patient / my doctor" or "my student / my teacher" or "my agent / my client." Other possessive relations are extremely limited but still remarkably binding: "my neighbor" and "my country" and "my president." The responsibilities and the ties signaled by reciprocal possession typically are hard to dissolve. It can be as difficult to give up an enemy as to give up a friend, and often the one becomes the other, as though the logic of the possessive pronoun outlasts the forms it chanced to take at a given moment, as though we were stuck with one another. In these bindings, nearly inextricable, are found the origin of our rights. They imply a possessiveness but also recognize an acknowledgment by each side of the other's existence.


Looking for reciprocality is a better deal.

rhhardin said...

Don't forget that Hillary has a world-class arm with an ashtray.

Meade said...

He should just refer to her as the most forgiving woman he's ever known and leave it at that; a world-class forgiver, if he must; warm, likable, and able to forgive those who trespass against her. But mean as a snake when she needs to be. Did I tell ya about the time I...

Ron said...

As long as she has presents for me, Bill can say she's smarter than Einstein! After all, did Einstein find the Pre-K package for all of us this holiday season? I think not!

Ron said...

Fine, fine, whatever! Just so long as Bill doesn't break into "Bess you is my woman now!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApZ0lqGIF74

hdhouse said...

Ann said: "But some people — dare I say, especially on the left? — are susceptible to the argument that the most intellectually brilliant candidate ought to win."

After 8 years of going the incredibly stupid route i think most people are just hoping for moderately bright. Brilliant is a plus. But who called Hillary the "smartest woman in the world"? Certainly not she. Berstein's observation of not being in the top 10 in her class plass to the urban myth that Hillary thinks of herself that way although there is absolutely no quote that depicts that self assessment. This entire subject is the result of the relentless "pinning" done by the right wing.

More to the point is that of possession. That is more crazy stuff and picking angels off the head of a pin. My wife or my sister or my dog does not confer ownership (well maybe my dog does). It is a way of simply setting up the identification of a person. NOTHING MORE. Bill has 4 choices:

1. My wife Hillary
2. Hillary who is my wife
3. Hillary (nothing more)
4. My wife

and I agree that "world-class" (thank you Ross Perot) is meaningless and Bill should be smarter than to use a phrase which is, at best, one that makes a lot of people cringe on hearing.

Meade said...

...I was against cheating on that woman, my wife, Hillary, from the beginning...

rhhardin said...

hdhouse, actually Vicki Hearne is always a leftist, but winds up writing on the right in spite of herself.

EnigmatiCore said...

"But some people — dare I say, especially on the left? — are susceptible to the argument that the most intellectually brilliant candidate ought to win."

I think it looks like this, but I think it is somewhat different. I think the left is more susceptible than the right to think their positions are intellectually brilliant. Therefore, they think that the left's candidates are smarter.

It is because they view their candidates as smarter that they argue the smarter candidate should win, not vice-versa.

DBrooks17 said...

enigmaticore's comment is my candidate for comment of the month. It's dead on the money.

MadisonMan said...

But the truth is that's all most of us expect from a candidate, for them to suck less than the others.

Ain't that the sad truth. My vote is usually at least half against someone, rather than mostly for someone.

AllenS said...

If the writers are still on strike when Bill and Hill are elected president, Letterman and Leno won't need the writers, they'll have plenty of fresh material on a daily basis to get all the laughs they need.

Wurly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Smartest woman in the world was from her testifying before Congress about health care, September 28, 2003, and the media reaction.

rhhardin said...

I should add that smartest woman in the world was the media talking point siezed on my Limbaugh for eternal parodic repetition, ensuring its survival.

rhhardin said...

damn, 1993, not 2003. Check-dating habit dysfunction.

ricpic said...

Do I get any credit for taking a world class shit this morning?

Pogo said...

It's too bad that ego is not like gravity, so that two monstrous egos meeting eventually crush each other, or are instead like magnetic poles, so that they fiercely repel.

Instead we have a geometric or even logarithmic expansion from these two merged narcissi, like a fertilized egg or fractal engorgement, requiring continual and increasing sustenance, a devouring vampiric vortex yelping "feed me Seymour, feed me".

Henry said...

It's too bad that ego is not like gravity

LOL. But I think it is. In the Clintons' case, the big egos are trying to crush and repel each other at the same time.

It's a kind of binary star system. Red giant. White Dwarf.

* * *

Personally, I give a lot of credit to WJC for his intelligence. He is probably the most economically literate president we've ever had (unlike Nixon, for example).

He had terrible failings of character, and the same mixed record on foreign policy that most presidents have, but the country mostly benefited from his intelligence.

That said, the smartest candidate in the running (both parties) is probably Mitt Romney. Not my first choice, I must say.

Roger said...

Why do I get this feeling Bill Clinton wants to be in the White House again even more than his wife? If we could make Bill go away, Hillary might get my support--the two of them together will perpetuate a long national nightmare, and if getting Bill is the price of getting HRC, forget it, Hill.

Roger said...

ricpic: I am afraid that Titus has reached out and touched you with his magic all the way from Wisconsin.

Kirk Parker said...

Wow, Ann, all this fairly long post just as a setup for the penultimate sentence???

:-)

MadisonMan said...

This might be off-topic.

I think a good plot twist in Ann's novel with Bill Clinton as the central character yearning to get back to the center of power would be: the winner of the Presidency divorces his wife, and then marries Hillary after she ditches Bill for someone (the new President) who has more power and who can therefore offer her more. Talk about Soap Opera! This would work best if Giuliani were to become President, simply because he has a history of ditching his wives, and also their past history would make for a more tempestuous, colorful relationship.

Roger said...

Having consulted my crystal ball I will make the following predictions with respect to the Democratic primaries (good only until early Feb). Edwards will be the surprise winner in Iowa; Obama will take New Hampshire; and HRC will edge out Obama in South Carolina. These results will unleash a torrent of mud slinging leading up to the first regional primary--after that my crystal ball, covered in mud as it will be, cannot help me. Its going to be a hell of a primary season, I think, and political junkies like me will OD on it.

And I cant even see whats going with the republicans. Someone wrote in earlier a brokered republican convention--that resonates with me.

dave in boca said...

She does "suck less" than at least one of his other "women." Plantation ethos in the western Bible belt.

Middle Class Guy said...

What are all the positions she has held in life? She was a lawyer in a firm that was poltically connected. She was first lady in Arkansas. She was First Lady in the white House. What has she done? What are her accomlishments? No one except Bill knows. As to genius, hey no genius would never have married Bill Clinton.

Der Hahn said...

Rodger, I mostly agree. I think Hillary is going to be a (very close) third in IA but Obama will just edge out Edwards. Nice wins out here.

The Huckster will probably squeak past Romney , and I look for the surprises to be a strong showing by Ron Paul and a very weak one by Guiliani. Thompson and McCain aren't going to be in the top three.

Finishing between the two most, errr, colorful candidates will give Romney a boost into NH. It seems like every year pundits salivate over a brokered convention but I'm betting that the field will winnow rather quickly to race between Romney and either McCain or Guiliani. Huckabee might hang on for a while but I doubt if he wins more than IA. I don't see where Thompson is going to make a break into the top three. IA was probably his best chance until Huckabee caught fire. He might be able to do it with a good showing in NH.

Balfegor said...

Re: Madisonman

I think a good plot twist in Ann's novel with Bill Clinton as the central character yearning to get back to the center of power would be: the winner of the Presidency divorces his wife, and then marries Hillary after she ditches Bill for someone (the new President) who has more power and who can therefore offer her more. Talk about Soap Opera!

It's like The Simulacra! Except Nicole Thibodeaux is supposed to be (a) beautiful and (b) an actress playing the role of Nicole Thibodeaux. And the President, Rudi (Kalbfleisch), is a robot.

So actually, I guess it's not really all that analogous. But that's what flashed through my head.

Cedarford said...

Henhouse - But who called Hillary the "smartest woman in the world"? Certainly not she..... there is absolutely no quote that depicts that self assessment. This entire subject is the result of the relentless "pinning" done by the right wing.

The answer is that media and feminist admirers of Hillary pegged her with that, as well as "One of the top 100 most distinguished lawyers in the country."
Hillary WAS mocked for it, but she did not dispute it. She should have. The woman is of above-average intelligence, but no Bill Clinton...the guy his Yale Law classmates said "There goes the guy who doesn't study. He gets it all in class or from friends notes when he cuts..."
***********************
Hillary failed her DC Bar exam after struggling at Yale Law.
She has no history of involvement in major litigation, but of appointments to Boards through other's auspices or her husbands to get extra income for her and Bill via corporate contacts made steered to Hillary's firms.
She has no paper trail of "great and momentous decisions" where her role can be definitively documented by scholars, researchers, journalists examination of the memo trails and principal and deputy principal's meeting minutes.
Like John Kerry, Algore, it is comforting to have people idolize you as being smarter than you actually are. It plays that way in the Democrat ranks.
***********************
Our "very smart people in politics" - the truly gifted - is a short list at the President and Constitutional Founder level. Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Hoover, Nixon, Clinton. Hoover was an engineering and logistics genius still studied for his seminal contributions in those fields as well as his translations - but miscast as President. Nixon, IMO, was the most consequential President of the 20th Century next to FDR. More than LBJ and Reagan...but done in by a Leftist media and his vulnerablities in personality.

In the years since Nixon, aside from Moynihan briefly toying with a Presidential run, only Bill Clinton would be what you would call "gifted" in a pack of men ranging from very smart to above average in intelligence. We know by now that the Presidency fortunately does not require genius. Brains help and may be the difference between a good and a truly great President (Jefferson, Lincoln vs. Cleveland, Eisenhower), but not a perequisite to being a great President (FDR, Reagan) that have other formidable tools of leadership and vision.

In the current race, we have one guy who appears from his record to be as gifted or more so than Bill Clinton was - Mitt Romney. They don't show up in many elections, and have other flaws in ability such that we wisely don't hand out the Presidency to the winner of a national IQ Test - but when they have enough of those abilities - they can be a consequential and even great President that charts our future.

And 2008 has a lot of "very smarts" - Obama, Giuliani, Edwards. And "smarts" like Hillary!, Thompson, The Huckster,
That all have enough brains to be President.
Then there are Dennis Kuchinich, and Richardson.....

Cedarford said...

Middleclass guy - As to genius, hey no genius would never have married Bill Clinton.

Made my case against Hillary! being some sort of uber-mind, in one sentence.

SteveR said...

As has already been demonstrated here, the modifier "world-class" is generally used to emphasize a negative, as in "he's a world-class asshole". As far as being a genius, I agree with Enigmaticore's view.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Of course, Bill Clinton can't be saying of Hillary, "She sucks less.""

Even if true?

AllenS said...

Even if Hillary! sucks less, I'll bet that she's never been a cigar humidor.

martha said...

I was one year behind Hillary Rodham at Wellesley. She was not known as a "world class genius" during her college years. I remember her as a grim, humorless, extraordinarily serious President of the Student Government who worked tirelessly with endless numerous committees to change the governing constitution (?)/ rules for students. The main result as I remember it was giving students the power to sue with benefit of outside counsel representation if they were charged with a disciplinary infraction. This led to an infamous case of a sophomore caught cheating on her ART History exam turning the Wellesley student judicial system into a farce when she hired a sleazy lawyer and imported her parents and younger brother to campus for the "trial". Her lawyer's defense consisted of investigating the sexual histories of the professors in the Art History Department and putting the professors on trial. My other major memory of Ms. Rodham was her graduation speech which was embarrassing for most of the invited guests since it was an insulting attack on the invited speaker--Senator Brook, a Black senator from Massachusetts. Senator Brook was a Republican but he was also invited after being selected by the graduating senior class and hardly deserved the rambling insulting diatribe unleashed on him that day at Wellesley.
Genius Hillary is not. Dogged and hard workier and nasty fighter she is.

Trooper York said...

There is some dispute among historians as to which first lady sucked least. Most of the oral histories that have come down through the years have nominated Dolley Madison as the most accomplished from her days as girl about town before she snagged James. Abigail Adams was also well know as an accomplish skin flautist as evidenced by her husband voluminous correspondence in which he called he “sweet lips” and his “golden throated swallow.” Barbara Bush is also a contender because you know there had to be some reason why Poppy married her. But the general consensus of most reputable historians is that Eleanor Roosevelt sucked least because of her unfortunate dental situation. As noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. noted, “FDR felt very deprived. As he once told Joe Stalin at Yalta, getting a hummer from Eleanor is like trying to sodomize a beaver.”
(Eleanor and Franklin; An Oral History, Doris Kearns Goodwin)

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that it needs to be kept in mind that while Bill Clinton is brilliant, it is likely his wife is not. Very smart, but not in his league. She just works a lot harder, i.e. a grind. Which means that she probably wouldn't make it in Yale LS these days, and he probably would. But then, now days, Bush (43) and Kerry probably wouldn't make it into Yale undergrad and Gore into Harvard undergrad either.

This time around, I think it highly likely that the brightest bulb is Romney, graduating high in his class at Harvard for both his JD and his MBA. I think that there is a possibility that at least Obama, and maybe Thompson,and even Richardson, are smarter than Hillary.

Of course, that means that all of these five are probably smarter than both the major party candidates in the last two presidential elections (with Bush probably the smartest of the three, it isn't that hard).

John Stodder said...

I remember her as a grim, humorless, extraordinarily serious President of the Student Government who worked tirelessly with...

"Tirelessly" is another word Hillary associates with herself, and her acolytes associate with her. She has "worked tirelessly" for children her whole life, she has said thousands of times. I take that to mean she has sacrificed everything else in her life -- family, career, money, leisure -- to improve the lives of children. But what's it all added up to?

When you're writing a resume, you're supposed to focus on results, but Hillary seems content to focus on her good intentions and this "tirelessly" business. Would you hire someone who worked tirelessly to achieve a goal and had nothing to show for it?

That's the most curious thing about Bill's praises. "She is a world-class genius in making positive changes in other people's lives" ought to be followed by at least three examples.

To be fair, Obama hasn't made a big difference in anyone's life either. But he doesn't make such claims for himself. He talks about what he's going to do, not what he did.

If we were choosing based on resume, the Republicans would have a distinct advantage, if they nominate Romney, Giuliani or McCain. The most accomplished Democrats have the least chance of getting the nomination, with the exception of Edwards, who has clearly accomplished a great deal, albeit in a controversial field.

My point is, if Hillary is campaigning based on her achievements, there's not much there, and she's vulnerable to being trumped. She needs to shift her focus to some other attribute where she has more to point to. If Tim Russert were to ask her in a debate, "name your three biggest accomplishments," the results wouldn't be pretty.

John Stodder said...

When I was young and single, there were a few girls who would make a play for me by saying they thought I was "so intelligent" and that made me a suitable candidate for a relationship because they, themselves were "intelligent" and wanted to make sure they were with someone who was also "intelligent."

I always ran the other way from these girls.

"Intelligent" is not a compliment unless it is connected with a specific thing one is working on, i.e., "That was an intelligent choice." To invert Forrest Gump, "intelligent is as intelligent does." You don't need to be intelligent to do something intelligent. And being intelligent doesn't automatically prevent you from doing something really stupid.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Maybe if Hillary had sucked more, the Clinton legacy would be entirely positive.

Roger said...

Trooper: re your FDR at Yalta story--dammit man, thats the third monitor I have ruined! and I will have cold sweats about both Eleanor and the beaver.

PatCA said...

I think it's all becoming very interesting watching a former president campaign for his wife, at least from a psycho-political point of reference. Margaret Thatcher was blessed with a non-political spouse.

Whatever he says, it's going to be wrong; it will sound condescending or puffed up because... the empress has no clothes! We all know his (mixed) record and her (nonexistent) record. We know their marital, haha, history. He diminishes himself by his involvement, which makes him look increasingly like some tinpot former tyrant pushing his surrogate and glossing over his own reign.

Don't cry for me, Argentina...

Rich B said...

Couldn't we get the Clintons a reality show so that we could enjoy their hijinks without the harmful side effects of an actual HRC presidency?

Trooper York said...

I want to vote for Fred Thompson because he is the only candidate who can truthfully say that his wife has a "world class" ass.

JSinger said...

Remember the way people talked about John Kerry in 2004? Supposedly, he had a brilliant mind, full of "nuance" and "complexity." But, as I wrote at the time, the evidence was lacking.

Who took any of that seriously? Kerry was a senator for years and no one in Massachusetts ever thought of him as particularly smart. (As opposed to, say, Paul Tsongas.) In the presidential primary, no one claimed Kerry was especially intelligent. (Would anyone imagine he's smarter than Howard Dean?) The "nuance" thing was invented solely to explain away the fact that he's a less coherent speaker than Bush, and to justify a platform at odds with pretty much every major vote he ever cast.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is obviously intelligent, although hardly in Bill's class.

Trooper York said...

I mean, you could bounce a quarter off it at the Superbowl to determine who kicks off. And those nips. Man, put your eye out. (Oh sorry, too much information). (Slinking quietly away).

JohnAnnArbor said...

My other major memory of Ms. Rodham was her graduation speech which was embarrassing for most of the invited guests since it was an insulting attack on the invited speaker--Senator Brook, a Black senator from Massachusetts.
What a petty thing to do.

Tim said...

"By tenth grade, Hillary had realized that she was by no means the smartest member of her class, and that to compete at the top level of academic achievement she would have to work harder than others. She was an honor roll student by force of will, intense preparation, and dutiful study. Even with such extraordinary effort, her grade point average was too low to be among the top ten students in her class."

Oh, here we go again. Right Wing Propaganda. Politics of personal destruction. This can't possibly be true - EVERYONE knows Hillary! is the mostest smartest woman walking the face of the earth since, well, since Eve walked the Garden before biting that damned apple... We NEED Hillary! to save us from the sins committed in our name by Chimpy McBushitler and Halliburton's Cheney.

Roger said...

"What a petty thing to do." So the nasty comments to Gen Petraeus have their roots in her basic style.

ricpic said...

"It's smart to be smart,"
Said the horse 'fore the cart
Matter of factly --
Farting heartily.

Michael_H said...

Most men, evidently including Bill Clinton, would prefer a woman who is a good lay, or who could be perceived as being a good lay, rather than one who is "dogged and hard worker and nasty fighter she is."

Sort of explains her high negatives among hetero males. She's the opposite of Viagra.

reader_iam said...

Do we actually know what Bill Clinton's IQ is or Hillary Clinton's? I've read lots of references over time, but don't recall seeing a definitive citation.

A minor thing; just curious, since that comparison keeps getting made (and I don't mean here, specifically).

Joan said...

Reader, this page lists Bill's as 137 and Hillary's as 140, but they're only estimates. 137 for Bill seems to be a consensus; it's mentioned on several different sites. This site repeats the 137 and 140 scores for Bill & Hill, but there's no sourcing for either.

Fen said...

What has she done? What are her accomlishments?

To be fair, she did turn the Clinton campaign around after the Gennifer Flowers story hit and sunk them. His campaign staff was depressed and ready to throw in the towel.

There's also the old joke about Bill & Hillary coming across a toothless gas station attendent while driving back to Arkansas. She's watching the guy, her eyes glaze over and she's lost in thought. Bill quips: "thinking about what your life would have been like if you hadn't met me?". She responds: "Yes, I was thinking that if I hadn't met you, that man would be the President."

Yah, sorry if I killed the joke, I don't recall the exact syntax. Point is, Bill would not have amounted to much without her driving and pushing him all the way.