"So anyway, I told them before you got here, I said I’m glad we won this race in New York," Clinton told Ryan, when the two met backstage at a forum on the national debt held by the Pete Peterson Foundation. But he added, “I hope Democrats don't use this as an excuse to do nothing.”Watching that clip, I felt that was staged for the camera. They're savvy enough to know where the media are. It was ABC News, backstage with them. So my question is, why did each of the 2 men decide that was what they wanted people to overhear? I'd say, first, that both men see themselves as the serious thinkers, trying to face and solve a real problem. The setting frames the message as: This is what the most serious and knowledgeable men from the 2 political parties say to each other when they are not playing politics for the camera.
Ryan told Clinton he fears that now nothing will get done in Washington.
“My guess is it’s going to sink into paralysis is what’s going to happen. And you know the math. It’s just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving,” Ryan said.
Clinton told Ryan that if he ever wanted to talk about it, he should “give me a call.” Ryan said he would.
Now, Bill Clinton has chosen to criticize the Democrats for falling into complacency, coasting into the next election. He's displaying himself as the real man of action, who would rise above politics and work hard to forge solutions. (Of course, this display is politics.)
Ryan makes a corresponding display: He too is a man of action, rising above politics, putting himself out there. But he's also purporting to speak for his whole party. The Republicans are acting. The Democrats are digging in and resisting. Clinton then says "give me a call."
So, is Clinton selling out the Democrats, making them look bad and giving Ryan a boost? If he is, why would he do that? Does he somehow seem to represent the Democrats, saying, for them, that they don't or shouldn't want the paralysis, lighting a fire under them to act or at least giving them some cover, making it seem as though they do care about action?
Or is Clinton out there on his own, peeling away from some or all of the Democrats, perhaps creating some kind of opening for Hillary?