June 1, 2012

"The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold," said Bill Clinton about Mitt Romney.

What's Clinton's game? He's not joking, and I don't think there's a big stress on "threshold" (that is, the notion that Romney is minimally qualified but not more).
Unlike some fellow Democrats, Clinton acknowledged Romney's time at Bain Capital formed a "good business career." He also acknowledged that the nature of private equity meant some companies inevitably fail.

"There is a lot of controversy about that," Clinton told guest host Harvey Weinstein, who has raised millions of dollars for Obama's campaign. "But if you go in and you try to save a failing company, and you and I have friends here who invest in companies, you can invest in a company, run up the debt, loot it, sell all the assets, and force all the people to lose their retirement and fire them."
Key phrase: "you and I have friends here who invest in companies." The Democrats are vulnerable themselves and can't afford the meme private equity is evil. But if this problem lay in wait, why did the Obama campaign commit itself so deeply to the Bain attack?
The former president continued, "Or you can go into a company, have cutbacks, try to make it more productive with the purpose of saving it. And when you try, like anything else you try, you don't always succeed."

While Clinton is not the first Democrat to defend Bain amid political attacks, he is the highest profile. In May Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker said he didn't want to "indict private equity," saying attacks on Romney's tenure didn't take into account the successes the company had. And on Thursday, current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called Bain "a perfectly fine company."
Help me figure this out. Is Clinton really about saving the Obama campaign from a problem it unwittingly created? Or is Clinton about the Clintons, whose interests with Obama intersect only incompletely.

60 comments:

TWM said...

Bill is "about the Clintons" 100%. Plus, I think Bill knows Barry is screwing up the economy and the country's future badly.

Robert said...

Hillary likes her chances against Romney or against another GOP opponent if it's an open seat in 2016 without Obama's baggage better than if she's associated with him during his second term.

Plain and simple. All this does is create further distance between herself and her employer. She sees Obama's failure up close and personal. We just know what we read.

Ken said...

Why does anyone still listen to Clinton? He was a mediocre president at best and a pathetic excuse for a man.

Why won't the Clintons go away? Why do democrats cling to them?

kcom said...

Or, perhaps, horrors, Bill Clinton is being just a little bit of a grown-up. And talking like one. Maybe he realizes it's the responsibility of an ex-President not to be a complete, partisan hack. Perhaps he realizes a president should have a loftier outlook. Perhaps he wonders (along with many of us) when Obama is going to learn that lesson.

Jimmy said...

I agree with Robert, Bill is setting the stage for Hillary on this one.

Of course he didn't come forward with any of this until it was quite clear that Obama campaign attacks on Romney/Bain were backfiring so he remains a political opportunist first and foremost.

Matthew Sablan said...

"But if this problem lay in wait, why did the Obama campaign commit itself so deeply to the Bain attack?"

-- Because they didn't think they would be called to the carpet on it. They were and are flatfooted. Sneak attack!

"Is Clinton really about saving the Obama campaign from a problem it unwittingly created?"

-- If Clinton wanted to help, he'd try and show that there's a difference between individuals doing private equity supporting the president (i.e., using free speech) and actually engaging in their destructive endeavors. In short, yes -- what they do may hurt the economy, but, their support of individuals that goes against their interests shows that they are thinking bigger picture. It's an argument that is... bad, but it would help Obama paint himself as a uniter of people with divergent interests to make the country better, even when it harms the individual in some way for the good of the whole. If I came up with that in about 10 seconds, don't think Clinton couldn't think of a better argument to trot out. I think the first black president might hold a grudge over the other first black president calling him racist.

edutcher said...

I'll say it again.

Willie was counting on a third term.

The guy "who would have been serving coffee a few years ago" stole it from the Hildabeast and then shunted her off into a job where she could do him no harm politically, but where her incompetence could yet shine through.

Willie wanted her to primary Dictator Zero, but she turned him down and, the way she's letting herself go, '16 might as well be 2116 as far as her making a run at the White House.

So Willie is going to do everything he can to destroy Barry as a candidate - now and forever.

Stuart Arlen said...

The Dems are insecure themselves and can't afford the meme private value finance is wicked.

Wrongful death lawyer Milwaukee

MadisonMan said...

I don't see Hillary running in 2016, when she is pushing 70. The nominee will be a Governor.

Balfegor said...

But if this problem lay in wait, why did the Obama campaign commit itself so deeply to the Bain attack?

I don't know whether this is the case or not, but I'm getting a vague sense that Obama's campaign is leaving a lot of responsibility for message and response with people who are young, or at least, from deep in the liberal bubble. Sufficiently deep (or sufficiently young and naive) that the modern reality that the Democrats are not just the party of the destitute and the marginalized, but also (especially) the party of posh professionals and the hyper-rich has not penetrated.

I got this sense of naive youth more with the "Julia" ad, which seemed more like something some yuppie put together because he thought it would be cool than a real political ad. Not that political ads aren't generally cheesy and dumb -- just that they're usually better pitched to the independent but persuadable audience. The Bain attacks are classic class warfare and ought to work; they're just blunted by the new class reality.

Scott said...

Look to the Democratic Leadership Council for your context.

Bill Clinton was, and is, part of that movement to try to steer the party to the political middle. Booker and Patrick are the same flavor of Democrat. They don't see capitalism as being evil.

Obama, by contrast, is part of the hard left wing which is now holding the reins of the party. His view of venture capital reflects the ideology of that extreme.

It's not about "Clinton being about Clinton." It's about Clinton engaging in the public debate to promote views that are consistent with his ideology.

Hagar said...

With the Clintons, it's always about the Clintons.

And the Clintons have a lot of money in private equity funds.

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Have to disagree with Scott. Anything Willie did on the DLC was for show, not for go. He saw how popular Reagan's message and governance was and hitched his star to it.

Those who might be skeptical should look at what he said and did in the first 2 and last 2 years of his Administration - homosexuals in the military, subprime mortgages, Elian Gonzales, cutting the military by 40%, not to mention his own stimulus. He's lucky so many people only think of his middle 4 years when he was triangulating like Hell to stay in the White House and out of jail.

Willie's as much as Lefty as Hillary or Little Zero, he just talked a better game.

Scott said...

kcom has it right....I honestly believe that Clinton is being (or trying, as much as he is able to) be and adult about this. Perhaps he has figured out that Hillary (or as I like to refer to her "America's ex-wife") is a poor vessel for his ambitions, and that the real hope for a legacy is an ex-Presidency as a statesman. Of course he will always be something of a political hack (most statesman are...), but he is likely to be better remembered as a party elder who helped save (or tried to help save) his party from the foolishness of his successors (which would coincidentally burnish his own presidency in comparison -- funny how that works) than as a shill for a woman utterly unsuited for the role she is in, much less a higher office.

Quayle said...

I just don't think Clinton can restrain himself with a payback.

He'll get the knife in Obama and the Chicago thugs when the time is right.

This may only be a foreshadowing.

Or maybe Bill is just selling silence one event at a time. Maybe he's noising around, then asking for silence money or favor from Obama.

Matthew Sablan said...

Well, if I got asked to go campaign on account of Barrett in Wisconsin, I'd look for a little pay back too.

Matthew Sablan said...

Also: I know someone who is never going to be asked to tag in for another press conference in the future.

TosaGuy said...

An Obama failure makes Clinton's presidency look better.

PatCA said...

All these Dems talking nice about Bain means more than the latest Intrade on the election. They think Obama's going down, and they don't want to go down with him.

He threw the party under the bus for Obamacare, and they're returning the loyalty.

Hagar said...

A lot of money.

cubanbob said...

Tosa and hagar are right. Clinton is also a sharp politician and knows the Obama wing will lead the democrats in to becoming a regional party for years unless the far left is cast out.

Kurt said...

Theory two, without a doubt. Clinton is only interested in the Clintons. And he'll make the right steps to "campaign" for Obama, but only so long as he doesn't have to say or do anything that will interfere with the future viability of the Clinton political machine. He has figured he does that best by lobbying for his party in a generic way but not taking part in any attacks which would ruin the Clinton brand of triangulation.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

There is a fight going on for the heart of soul of the Democratic Party. Jay Cost has written about it 2 or 3 times in the past month. There was also a terrific great article written about it by someone at National Journal after Obama lost 40% of the Democrat vote in three border south states. (I can't remember the name of the author).

The argument is that the special, mostly one issue extremists in the Democratic Party - the environmentalists, the feminists, gay rights activists, far left neo-Marxist academics, etc. have tried desperately to set the agenda for Obama but that agenda has turned off what few moderate Democrats remain in the party. It's why Obama lost 40% of the Democrat vote in primaries in West Virginia, Arkansas, and Kentucky. The interests of environmental activists and feminist extremists don't align well with blue collar coal mine and auto workers.

The Democrat Party "establishment" is trying to pull the party back toward the center, much like they did after McGovern's disastrous defeat. They used to have the infrastructure in place with the Democrat Leadership Conference to help groom future moderates, but most of the fundraising comes from the special interest extremists so the DLC folded under financial pressures a couple of years ago. Now Artur Davis, a four term former black Democratic Congressman, is so disillusioned with the party he announced he's becoming a Republican. As he said, there's no longer room in the Democratic Party for somebody with slightly center-right views. It's got to be pure panic for the party leadership when one of the most highest profile members of the most loyal voting bloc in the Democrat coalition (the black vote) very publicly announces he no longer feels at home in the party.

I think Democrat leaders like Clinton, Ed Rendell, Harold Ford, Cory Booker and even Deval Patrick see Armageddon ahead if they don't figure out a way to position the party closer to the center.

deborah said...

lol the Clintons play a long game.
As far as "letting herself go," I see a Lifstyle Lift in her future.

"Willie's as much as Lefty as Hillary or Little Zero, he just talked a better game."

They're all neoliberal. With Robert Rubin's guidance NAFTA was executed and Glass-Steagal repealed.

edutcher said...

cubanbob and Maggot are right in the sense that this election will destroy the Demos for a generation, but almost no one in the Party wants to pull back. This includes Willie and Deval Patrick in that group.

What few moderates are left are bailing, like Artur Davis and, quite possibly between now and the election, Cory Booker.

traditionalguy said...

The Clintons are left wing Baby Boomers who have always wanted applause for fixing the hard edges of the USA that can hurt people.

But ObamaI is a pure enemy agent dedicated to destroying all American strength and leaving a third world waste land owned by Chinese and Europeans behind him. So they do not intersect much at all.

While Bill is planning good things for us whether we want them or not,
Obama I is going down his EPA Drone list selecting the next part of the USA's strength that he can arrange to legally kill off next.

Bottom line is that Obama is an undercover mass murderer and quite proud of his craft.

greenlantern said...

iteHow about that he is building a case for a big ol' convention fight--the one the Clintons should have had to contest the DNC giving Hillary's delegates to BO? It starts with something like this: "We told you so!"

dreams said...

"What's Clinton's game? He's not joking, and I don't think there's a big stress on "threshold" (that is, the notion that Romney is minimally qualified but not more)."

His game is to remain the only Democrat President to be elected to a second term since FDR.

JohnBoy said...

Clinton has been out of office for 12 years. Hard to believe.

He's mostly about making money and protecting the brand at this point in his life. I don't think Hillary is going to run for anything at age 70. Plus, she looks freaking exhausted.

I guess Clinton kinda sorta represents the Al From wing of the Democratic party. If Obama goes Jimmy Carter in November, it will be delicious to watch the moderates and lefties point fingures at each other. Once you lose an election, the Democrats usually throw you to the wolves. Haven't heard much from Dukakis, Mondale, or Carter lately. Bamster will be 50, and he will wonder what to do with himself, especially if there is a straight Republican sweep.

edutcher said...

deborah said...

lol the Clintons play a long game.
As far as "letting herself go," I see a Lifstyle Lift in her future.


Have to disagree. I think Hillary's tired of it all.

And she's smart enough to realize trying to run for the White House for the first time at age 70 is a losing proposition.

Reagan got away with it, but he had a vigor in him Hillary doesn't and a record as a can-do Governor.

lemondog said...

O is divisive. The Clintons peeeeeace-makers and uniters.

Hillary and Booker in 2012.

In 2016 Hillary will be close to age 70.

ndspinelli said...

Chrissake, IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT CLINTON!!

EMD said...

Unlike a lot of Democrats, Clinton is not dumb.

Jim Howard said...

I don't see Hillary running in 2016, when she is pushing 70.

I would have agreed ten years ago, but now that I just turned 60, 70 doesn't seem all that old anymore. Certainly she could play the Reagan card.

If Hillary can maintain her health I'm 100% certain she will run in 2016.

I'm sure Obama would jump at the chance to replace babbling Joe with Hillary this year if she would take the VP spot. I wouldn't rule that out, it would depend on Hillary's evaluation of how losing as the 2012 VP nominee would affect her chances against Romney in 2016.

Obama might suggest to Hillary that she could drag the Democrats across the finish due to the following factors:

1) Right now some elements of the mainstream media have cooled off somewhat. The old leg thrills just aren't there any more. On the other hand, the media will go all in for Obama/Hillary just as they did for Obama/Bidden last time. Media legs will again tingle like it was 2008.

2) Even with out leg thrills, the media will continue to ignore Obama's past, and there is nothing more to say about Hillary's past.

On the other hand the mainstream media will take any verbal gaff or fifth hand rumor about a GOP candidate and trumpet it with 100 point type.

3) What could be more historic than a black Presidential candidate? A black President running with a woman!

4) Hillary is the only credible female VP candidate in either party.

Romney will be precluded from picking one of the rising star GOP governors as his VP, since they are all straight men.

He'd have to pick someone off the GOP junior varsity, just as McCain did.

5) If Hillary joins the ticket and the Democrats win then Hillary will get all the credit. If not she will get credit for taking one for the team and so will still be corinated at the 2016 Democrat convention.

Shanna said...

Bill Clinton is being just a little bit of a grown-up. And talking like one.

Indeed. Bill Clinton, for all his imperfections, is about 50 times smarter than Obama could ever hope to be about a hell of a lot of things.

I agree with Robert, Bill is setting the stage for Hillary on this one.

Do people still think Hillary will happen, at this point. Hasn't that ship kind of sailed? (then again maybe not, since someone thought it was very important to rename our airport the 'Bill and Hillary Airport' despite the fact that she wasn't president and isn't even from Arkansas. Bah.

Matthew Sablan said...

Hillary is unlikely. If anything, it is slowly preparing the way for either Chelsea in, what, about 2024 or so?, or for Bill's hand picked political successor.

Mitch H. said...

I don't see Hillary running in 2016, when she is pushing 70. The nominee will be a Governor.

Interesting thought, MM. The problem there is that the Democratic gubernatorial bench is a little empty right now, there's only twenty of them, and many of those don't have the national profile. Indigo state governors like Brown, O'Malley, Gregoire, Kitzhaber, Quinn, Patrick, Shumlin, Malloy, Markell and Abercrombie aren't going to fly, their states are already locked-in eternal electoral votes. Perdue is imploded, Dayton is nuts. That leaves Lynch of North Hampshire, Nixon of Missouri, Beshear of Kentucky, Hickenlooper of Colorado, Tomblin of West Virginia, Schweitzer of Montana, and Beebe of Arkansas. Oh, and Cuomo, the Democratic Walker.

I dunno about Beshear, Beebe and Tomblin, none of them seem like the sorts who could survive the Democratic primary gauntlet. That leaves Lynch, Hickenlooper, Schweitzer, and Cuomo. Schweitzer seems to have national "pull", and the nutroots like him.

EMD said...

I'd bet money on Cuomo getting in.

deborah said...

"Have to disagree. I think Hillary's tired of it all.

And she's smart enough to realize trying to run for the White House for the first time at age 70 is a losing proposition.

Reagan got away with it, but he had a vigor in him Hillary doesn't and a record as a can-do Governor."

Quite possibly she's tired of it all. Or, like McCain at age 71, might have the drive and ambition.

Matthew Sablan, I don't see Chelsea as presidential timber.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

It's about the Clintons, but not about Hilary. He's trying to salvage the party in case Chelsea or one of his grand kids wants a political career.

Matthew Sablan said...

Neither do I; but Clinton is the kind of guy who keeps his options open, you see.

Cindy Martin said...

Clinton knows how dangerous an Obama second term would be. I bet he's hoping Romney wins.

William said...

There was a special on MTV about Paris Hilton's troubled relationship with the cannibalistic porn star so I was only able to watch the Clinton interview intermittently, during the commercials......You have to admire the thorough tongue bathing that Harvey Weinstein gave our ex President. Chis Matthews could learn much from this man. I was particularly struck by how the morbidly obese Weinstein praised Clinton for his dietary discipline. Clinton's self restraint and character were an inspiration for Mr. Weinstein.

Tim Wright said...

Payback and hillary 2016. They know obama's a loser this time out. tim

lemondog said...

"Have to disagree. I think Hillary's tired of it all.

Yeah, but Bill ain't.

Unknown said...

Clinton is for Clinton. The question is what is he hoping to accomplish for himself.

Right now Clinton is the only Democrat to have been elected President twice since FDR. Truman and Johnson were both reelected but they were Vice Presidents who succeeded their dead predecessors.

Clinton is pretty much guaranteed to be a Democratic Party kingmaker after Obama is defeated. The thing is that for being a kingmaker in the Democratic Party to be worth anything, the party has to move to a place where they can get a national electoral majority and that is not where Obama is taking it.

Bill Clinton's preference would probably be for Hillary to be President. If she doesn't want to go through the primary process, a VP nomination would bypass that unpleasantness. Once Hillary is Vice President, there is always the possibility of her becoming President the same way Gerald Ford did.

Seven Machos said...

It's possible, I suppose, that there is some coordinated effort by Democrats to bash Bain on one side and have just enough certain people say just enough good stuff about Bain to let the private equity people with cash to give know that all the bashing isn't really, you know, serious.

However, you have to apply Occam's Razor and you have to remember that conspiracy is difficult, particularly when more than one person is involved. It's much more likely that Clinton, Booker, et al. know enough about reality to understand that Bain and all it represents are good things -- great things -- for an economy. Karl Marx, the great critic and horrific, evil, failed philosopher foisted a terrible language trick onto humanity when he was able to name the only way a free economy naturally works with the nefarious word, capitalism.

(And, incidentally, it was another, more successful German philosopher, Schopenhauer, who observed that the names for things in themselves will follow the actual thing in itself. So, for example, capitalism is perpetually becoming a more positive term, while welfare -- welfare -- has negative connotations already.)

n.n said...

Bain has also been run by Democrat operatives. Most notable during the period that Obama has focused upon.

There is an internal conflict within the Democrat party. It could be exposed by determining the source of Obama's majority funding in his last campaign. In the meantime, I think a MAD principle is at work. The establishment and realignment of alliances is happening quietly by surely.

n.n said...

Seven Machos:

Private equity is indeed a good and necessary element of a market economy. It could be replaced by a government agency, but the authority (i.e. monopolistic) held by that agency serves to distort and corrupt the process by which capital and resources are recycled. This is another example of the "invisible hand" at work. The market system bears a remarkable resemblance to the natural system. While it is often inefficient, it is also incomparably adaptable.

Joe said...

I think Bill Clinton sees Obama for what he really is--an empty suit who didn't earn his position--and that pisses him off.

Plus, he knows that four more years of Obama is going to destroy this country.

Just Lurking said...

Clinton is pretty much guaranteed to be a Democratic Party kingmaker after Obama is defeated. The thing is that for being a kingmaker in the Democratic Party to be worth anything, the party has to move to a place where they can get a national electoral majority and that is not where Obama is taking it.

I agree.

Clinton understands the game of politics- that even if you lose this election, there will be others to win. A Dem loss now would be far better for the Democratic party chances in upcoming elections, than four more years of the divisive destruction of Obama and his administration of amateurs.

Clinton knows how dangerous an Obama second term would be. I bet he's hoping Romney wins.

So do I.

Cedarford said...

Ken said...
Why does anyone still listen to Clinton? He was a mediocre president at best and a pathetic excuse for a man.
=====================
I think with all his personal flaws, Bill Clinton was a better President than Dubya, certainly Obama...and a far superior mind and candidate to what the Dems have offered since.
I truly believe Bill Clinton is acting out of interest for his Party in trying to walk back the OWS "flavor" that has been embraced by Obama and many of the Obamites. Bill Clinton opened up the Democrat coffers by telling Wall Street that Dems did not see private enterprise as the enemy..to expand them past affluent progressive Jews (50% of the Democrat DNC budget came from left-leaning wealthy Jews in 1992).

He doesn't want Obama and the Chicago socialists ruining one of his great accomplishments as a Democrat. The credibility of Democrats going to businesses asking for funds and telling those businesses they will get a fair deal from Democrats they help elect.

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

I keep telling people that Obama will ultimately NOT be this year's Democratic candidate for president: "something" (no idea what) is going to happen and at the last possible minute Hillary (who has lately been INSISTING that she's done-through-finished, has no desire to run for office again, etc) will be "drafted" to "serve the needs of the country".

Bill's speechifyin' is just more "positioning the Clinton name as centrist and moderate".

Biff said...

While it is significant on several levels that Clinton made remarks like these, it is actually far more significant that Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, one of Obama's closest political allies, made similar remarks.

Deval Patrick has done the math, and he has concluded that Boston-headquartered Bain Capital is more valuable to his prospects as governor (and beyond) than the President is.

Let's not forget that Deval Patrick was the source of Obama's famous use of "Just words?" in the 2008 campaign.

Jackson Brown said...

Bill Clinton is amzing guy, great politician and successful business man. He is the great idol for lots people.He tried so hard to get all this.

Mandrien

yashu said...

Ha, I'd forgotten, until just now reminded by Jim Geraghty (here), that on more than one occasion recently, Romney has praised Clinton (as a stark foil to Obama):

Mitt Romney, May 8:

“President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America. Liberal policies didn’t work then, they haven’t worked over the last four years, and they won’t work in the future. New Democrats had abandoned those policies, but President Obama resurrected them, with predictable results. President Clinton said the era of big government was over. President Obama brought it back with a vengeance.”

Mitt Romney, May 15:

Speaking at a campaign stop in Iowa on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama for abandoning the “Clinton Doctrine.” He went on to suggest that there is some level of personal hostility between President Obama and the Clintons. “It’s enough to make you wonder if maybe it was a personal beef with the Clintons,” said Romney, “But probably that – it runs much deeper than that.”


Heh, smart Mitt. Clinton was always likely to go Cory Booker-- albeit with much more political finesse-- on Bain; Clinton's much too smart to spew the "vampire capitalism" line. But Clinton didn't need to get in those extra digs, subtle knife nicks at Obama: "sterling business career," "qualification threshold." Maybe Romney's Clinton-friendly remarks (taking advantage of the Clinton vs. Obama antagonism, personal and political; and burnishing Clinton's legacy-- and ego-- at O's expense) facilitated that.

Whiskey said...

I haven't read any of the comments (sorry!) but there seems to me a third option, namely that Clinton is for the Democratic party and thinks Mr. O and his Chicago style McGovernish tendencies are ruining it.

Stuart Arlen said...

The Bill Clinton is a great and success business man in the market, And you also do that type business just apply his trips and saying of business.

slip and fall attorney milwaukee

graves cruz said...

I really agree with the Robert and Bill clinton is making the Platform for Hillary on this one. Thanks for sharing.

Kent Reliance