Monday, June 02, 2008

Problems with Bill Clinton

There's a bunch of stuff floating around about Bill Clinton that I am just going to assemble here in this post.

First Politico posted a story on the 30th called Bill Clinton's Enemies List. To me it only showed how out of touch with reality he is. Still, today, I hear about how pragmatic a politician the man is. I don't think so. Never did.

the theory goes something like this: After Hillary recovered from a string of losses to rival Barack Obama with March 4 wins in Texas and Ohio, powerful forces conspired to pressure the superdelegates who will decide the nomination to back Obama by discouraging her supporters from voting and trying to hide evidence proving she would fare better than Obama against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain
Any one familiar with Slate's delegate counter knows that it was not "powerful forces" but math. Her wins on March 4th were NOT big enough for her to ever get ahead again. In fact, Obama won more delegates out of Texas.

These are the enemies:
Bill Clinton told donors: “We are in the strongest conceivable position electorally and not in a good fix with the superdelegates, because they have felt all the pressure from the Obama side, from the media, from the MoveOn crowd — who they think is an automatic ATM machine for everybody for life. So, they’re reluctant to take on all that.”
It's not MoveOn crowd. That's a total misapprehension of reality. It's bigger than the MoveOn crowd. The bloggers on the left don't like her, that's true enough. But its because of her own decisions, her own words and her own campaign that that aversion was created. And MoveOn is just a part of that movement, certainly not all of it. Not even a leading part. The irony is that Move On got its name because it wanted people to move on past the impeachment of the president.

It's was also Hillary's remarks like John McCain was qualified to be commander in chief but Obama gave only a speech.

Second, NPR from May 30th - The Bill Clinton Factor interviews Carol Felsenthal, author of Clinton in Exile, who reflects on the role the former president is playing. The interviewer cited a New York Times piece from April 29th Vexing Issue for the Clinton Campaign: What to Make of Bill? which opens with this:

At the end of a week in which Bill Clinton’s stumping for his wife was again overshadowed by a “distraction,” many Democrats were asking: Is this method, or madness?
Felsenthal answers madness - that he is beside himself, not sleeping.

And then the doozy - from Todd Purdam of Vanity Fair (formerly of the New York Times for whom he covered Clinton; Purdam is now married to Dee Dee Myers) - The Comeback Id. I've not finished reading it online, but it's good. And cause a bit of a ruckus from the Clinton campaign - as well it should. It's about Bill Clinton's post-presidency behavior. It's exactly the sort of thing that would again become an issue had we been cursed with her as the nominee.

The reason Purdam wrote the piece:

This winter, as Clinton moved with seeming abandon to stain his wife’s presidential campaign in the name of saving it, as disclosures about his dubious associates piled up, as his refusal to disclose the names of donors to his presidential library and foundation and his and his wife’s reluctance to release their income-tax returns created crippling and completely avoidable distractions for Hillary Clinton’s own long-suffering ambition, I found myself asking again and again, What’s the matter with him?

As I sought to answer that question for myself, in conversations with dozens of current and onetime Clinton aides, many of whom I have known all these years (Clinton himself declined to be interviewed), I realized just how much about the former president is not known, and not knowable, at the moment, mostly because of his unapologetic stonewalling.
Here are another bits:

There is reason to believe that Clinton, who never made more than $35,000 a year as governor of Arkansas and left the White House about $12 million in debt, has had his head turned by his ability to enjoy his post-presidential status; that the world of rich friends, adoring fans, and borrowed jets in which he travels has skewed his judgment or, at a minimum, created uncomfortable appearances of impropriety. There is ample evidence that his eight-year absence from a political workplace that has changed radically in the interim has left him conspicuously rusty at the craft of which he was once a master. There are those friends who worry that Clinton has never been the same since his quadruple-bypass surgery, in 2004, and the unexpected follow-up operation six months later to remove accumulated scar tissue on his lung.

“There’s an anger in him that I find surprising,” one senior aide, who has known and served both Clintons for years, told me this spring. “There seems to be an abiding anger in him, and not just the summer thunderstorms of old.
and this - about women-

But among the not-so-small cadre of Clinton friends and former aides, concern about the company the boss keeps is persistent, palpable, and pained. No former president of the United States has ever traveled with such a fast crowd, and most 61-year-old American men of Clinton’s generation don’t, either. “I just think those guys are radioactive,” one former aide to Clinton who is still in occasional affectionate touch with him told me recently, referring to Burkle and (to a lesser extent) Bing. “I stay far away from them.”

Another former aide, trusted by Clinton for his good judgment, said, “On the sort of money, women, all that stuff … I’m the bad guy. All this stuff is kept away from me. Whatever they’re doing, they definitely view me as somebody you cannot confide in.”

A longtime Clinton-watcher, who has had ties to the former president since his first campaign for governor of Arkansas, said of Clinton’s sometimes questionable associations, “I don’t know what to make of any of that, if it’s a voyeuristic experience, or if he’s participating in it.”

Yet another long-serving Clinton aide said simply, “If you figure it out, would you let me know?”

Here's another good bit:
Less amusingly, in the run-up to the 1996 re-election campaign, when Clinton took one of his many fund-raising trips to California, I teasingly asked his press secretary, Mike McCurry, whether the president intended to go jogging with Eleanor Mondale, the daughter of the former vice president—as he had on a previous trip—after he was spotted with her (and Barbra Streisand) in the wee hours of the morning. The next day, as we boarded the plane at Andrews Air Force Base en route to Los Angeles, McCurry, whose effectiveness as Clinton’s spokesman was aided by the fact that he never fell in love with him, sidled up to me and told me that he had passed my question on to the president, and that Clinton had responded, in vivid terms he knew I could not print, that I should not confuse exercise with extracurricular activity.

Only much later would the world learn that no less an informed observer than Monica Lewinsky, whose judgment, in hindsight, has often seemed sounder than the president’s, had taken note of Mondale’s presence at his side. According to Andrew Morton’s authorized account Monica’s Story, Lewinsky flew into a swivet when she was once stopped at the White House gate on her way to a hoped-for meeting to deliver Christmas gifts to the president. While waiting, she learned that Mondale was with him in the White House.

“Do you think I would be stupid enough to go running with someone I was foolin’ with?,” Clinton later asked Lewinsky. Without missing a beat, she replied, “Do you want me to answer that?”

I'm looking forward to finishing it.

Meanwhile - today, the Clinton campaign responded not once, not twice, but three times today. The first time, the Clinton campaign did not dispute the facts but attacked the writer. The second time it claimed the story had no facts (to counter) but was simply rumor and innuendo. The third time Bill himself responded:
Former President Bill Clinton today unleashed a salty stream of epithets to describe former New York Times reporter and current Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum, calling him "sleazy," "dishonest," "slimy" and a "scumbag."

The former president made the comment at a local campaign event after I asked him if Purdum's much-commented upon Vanity Fair story was weighing on his mind.

Tightly gripping this reporter's hand and refusing to let go, Clinton heatedly denounced the writer, who is currently married to former Clinton White House Press Secretary, Dee Dee Myers.

"[He's] sleazy," he said referring to Purdum. "He's a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him . . . And I haven't read [the article]. There's just five or six blatant lies in there. But he's a real slimy guy," the former president said.

When I reminded him that Purdum was married to his former press spokesperson Myers, Clinton was undeterred.

"That's all right-- he's still a scumbag," Clinton said. " Let me tell ya-- he's one of the guys -- he's one of the guys that brought out all those lies about Whitewater to Kenneth Starr. He's just a dishonest guy-- can't help it."

Then he goes into victimhood again -

"You know he didn't use a single name, cite a single source in all those things he said. It's just slimy. It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It's the most biased press coverage in history. It's another way of helping Obama. They had all these people standing up in this church cheering, calling Hillary a white racist, and he didn't do anything about it. The first day he said 'Ah, ah, ah well.' Because that's what they do-- he gets other people to slime her. So then they saw the movie they thought this is a great ad for John McCain-- maybe I better quit the church. It's all politics. It's all about the bias of the media for Obama. Don't think anything about it."

"But I'm telling ya, all it's doing is driving her supporters further and further away-- because they know exactly what it is-- this has been the most rigged coverage in modern history-- and the guy ought to be ashamed of himself. But he has no shame. It isn't the first dishonest piece he's written about me or her."

Really - who has no shame? Read the whole thing. As a side note, this is the same blog reporter, Mayhill Fowler, for Huffington Post who reported on Obama's bitter remarks in San Francisco.

Well, here's a paragraph from Vanity Fair that has quite a bit on the record:
As the days wore on, the former Senate Democratic majority leader Tom Daschle said Clinton’s behavior was “not keeping with the image of a former president.” His former labor secretary and onetime friend turned critic, Robert Reich, called Clinton’s attacks on Obama “ill-tempered and ill-founded.” No less a loquacious commentator than the Reverend Al Sharpton said that it was time for Clinton to just “shut up.” His old flame Gennifer Flowers, who has endorsed Hillary, referred to him as an “idiot husband.” Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black member of the House of Representatives, who pointedly had remained neutral in the primary, finally called Clinton’s behavior “bizarre.” And on more than one occasion, in one way or another, Senator Clinton herself had to tell him—as she did after he revived controversy over her imagined landing in Bosnia under sniper fire by unleashing a string of new inaccuracies to defend her—“Let me handle this.” There is little doubt that Clinton’s own intensity has fueled his wife’s. One senior aide told me bluntly that Bill’s anger “has not served her well. That side of him feeds the worst side of Hillary. He does stoke her up.”

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