December 19, 2007

Exploiting Bill Clinton.

How can Hillary exploit Bill's popularity without opening up all the complexities of judging his Presidency? Matt Bai writes in the NYT Magazine:
When I asked Bill Clinton about this issue, during an informal meeting in South Carolina, he readily agreed to sit down for a longer interview on his legacy’s role in the campaign. A few weeks later, however, and at the last minute, Hillary’s aides canceled the interview. Famously controlling, they would not even allow the former president to talk about his record.
Interesting. You know, I was just watching the Charlie Rose interview with Bill Clinton, and I thought Bill Clinton seemed really angry about something. I had the impression that something was nagging at him that he couldn't talk about. I also noticed that he used the words "she" and "her" to great excess and rarely voiced his wife's name.

Here's Bai:
On those rare ocasions when the former president hasn’t been able to resist defending his wife or burnishing his own record, the results haven’t been especially helpful. Unlike Hillary Clinton and her team of advisers, who are relentlessly on message and disciplined, Bill Clinton is a more instinctual politician, given to improvisational moments that must torment his wife’s obsessive-compulsive aides. In November, Clinton suddenly asserted during a campaign appearance in Iowa that he opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning — an aside that he needn’t have offered and that clearly contradicted not only his wife’s Congressional vote but his own statements in the build-up to the war.
If you were writing a novel about the 2008 presidential campaign, wouldn't you want Bill Clinton as your main character? What a complex situation he is in. He stands to gain power, but his time is also over. He can help his wife, but he can also hurt her. He is supposed to fight for her, but he's continually tempted to justify himself. He has the more creative mind, but he cannot outshine her.

ADDED: You know, things like this — "Elder Bush nixes Clinton trip idea" — make me think Bill secretly wants Hillary to lose:
Former President George H.W. Bush has shot down his successor Bill Clinton’s idea of a diplomatic mission under a Hillary Clinton presidency that would send him and other notables abroad to assure other nations that “America is open for business and cooperation again.”

The move came one day after Bill Clinton made the suggestion on the campaign trail in South Carolina, in response to a question from a supporter about his wife’s “number-one priority” upon reaching the White House.
Why did Bill say that? It enlisted Bush 41 in what sounded like a plain insult to Bush 43.

MORE: Bill's way of talking about Hillary reminds me a bit of the way George Bush talked about Harriet Miers just before she withdrew:
Harriet Miers is -- is an extraordinary woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis....

Harriet Miers is a fine person....

21 comments:

Roger said...

Lord...I guess the republic could survive four or even eight years of an HRC presidency with WJC as first gentlemen, but the mind boggles at the thought! There is no way any force on this planet would be able to keep WJC under control; eg: ...and Mr. Clinton: the president has nuked Iran..what would YOU have done in your Presidency? etc

SteveR said...

Gee her people are such a well oiled machine (The Inevitable Candidate) and the fact that he is so much in the picture now days would indicate some desparation.

Why would they want him making promises for Bush 41 to tour the world, for example?

George said...

As you say in your penultimate line, Professor, Mr. Clinton is indeed "continually tempted."

Fen said...

and the fact that he is so much in the picture now days would indicate some desparation.

Chelsea's in the mix now too, on the campaign trail. I'm beginning to think Oprah campaigning with Obama has put Hillary back on her heels.

Ann Althouse said...

"As you say in your penultimate line, Professor, Mr. Clinton is indeed "continually tempted.""

Yes, "justify" would be a funny new slang term. I need to justify myself...

peter hoh said...

Justify. Sort of like the evangelical "testify," but more self-serving.

peter hoh said...

On the topic of political spouses, I always thought that Teresa Heinz Kerry was not terribly interested in the limits that being first lady would have imposed upon her.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"More creative" may be the understatement of the year:

Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that the first thing his wife Hillary will do when she reaches the White House is dispatch him and his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, on an around-the-world mission to repair the damage done to America's reputation by the current president — Bush's son, George W. Bush.

(h/t MinuteMan)

AJ Lynch said...

WJC hates being out of power and out of the limelight.

I suspect he is deeply depressed since he left office. His personal hell is to be irrelvant after being POTUS for 8 years.

Combine the depression/ irrelbvance with an absence of core values - that mix makes him careless with the truth which is dangerous for Hillary's campaign.

Meade said...
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Meade said...

"...[Robert] Borosage told me, Clinton’s presidency fit snugly into the era of Reagan and Bush. Faced with ascendant conservatism, he says, 'Clinton saw his job, in a sense, as getting the Democratic Party to adjust to it, rather than to resist it.'"

Or maybe the new slang term should be "adjustify." As in, "Adjustify" my record."

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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PatCA said...

I wonder how he will respond, how he will live, if she wins. I can't imagine his ego and appetites being satisfied with being the laughable First Gentleman. I predict lots of overt bad sexual behavior.

Bill will also prove a convenient scapegoat, as in who's hiding the documents? Bill.

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/12/19/clintons-still-withholding-2600-pages-of-records/

Meade said...

Goodness! I'll have what Ruth Anne's having.

rhhardin said...

But of course they're not voting for Hillary, they're voting for Bill.

The novel ought to be about Hillary's position, not Bill's.

She's the one putting her feminist self-respect on the line.

She ought to lose her voice and let Bill give the speeches.

reader_iam said...

I'm thinking of switching to bottled water until after the caucuses. It's just getting weirder and weirder in Campaign World in this final weeks, and, well, one just can't be too careful.

***

BTW, it's official: We've now gotten calls from the Obama campaign on all of our phone lines since last evening. There's some big rally at the RiverCenter Friday morning.

Gee, it's nice to be wanted.

/OT

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Roger said...

Ruth Ann--I caucused once, but my mother caught me. I have never caucused again.

Chip Ahoy said...

You watched that?

I saw his profile a couple of times on Charlie Rose as I made passes through the channels. Bad habit, I know. It's autonomic to slide right over both. See?, I'd prefer my ex-presidents to remain in 'retirement' mode, perhaps occasionally seen, but seldom heard. A zen master instructed me to not energize anything I don't want. Since it's not possible to make them shut up, the best one can do is not give them any energy.

Sissy Willis said...

He has the more "creative" mind? I guess it depends upon what your definition of creative is.

Some pundit -- can't remember which, but one of the usual suspects -- said the difference between Bubba and the Mrs. is that he actually believes the bald-faced tales he spins.

knoxwhirled said...

It's been greatly entertaining to observe Bill during this campaign. It can only get better... almost worth a Hillary presidency just to see what would happen.

depends upon what your definition of creative is.

exactly what I was going to say!