It’s been ten years and two days since it was shaken at America while the man attached to it declared that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Now, while on its bearer’s wife’s campaign trail, that dastardly digit is getting enough exposure that it might just air out.
Former President Bill Clinton is on the warpath, and it’s not doing anybody any good.
Except for Barack Obama, and therein lies the problem.
In recent weeks, Bill has waved that pointer and called certain aspects of Obama’s well-run campaign a “fairy tale.” He has wagged that appendage while accusing backers of the Illinois senator of intimidating Nevada caucus-goers. He’s been exercising that extremity while implying that Obama exaggerated his anti-war records and that he disseminated undue praise for GOP rivals, and most recently was said to have spent a good deal of time on the telephone with Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy in an attempt to diffuse his upcoming endorsement of Hillary’s rival-in-chief.
Seeing that Hillary had her pantsuit handed to her in South Carolina, where Bill took her place as the face of her candidacy, her handlers must be wondering just how effective a frothing, angry ex-President is. Perhaps an effort should be made to pull back the husband for the sake of the wife — Democrat or Republican, I’m not so sure that American voters like the idea of a presidential team, especially not one that brings such divisiveness to the political landscape.
If this were the general election instead of the primary, Bill’s childish, petty antics would thrill me. However, considering that–in my opinion–Barack Obama will be more difficult for a Republican to beat in November, the former president’s finger-waving might just be the worst possible thing for the GOP, even as embarrassing as it is for the Democratic party to finally confront the idea that the much-revered Clintons are not exactly models of truth-in-politics.
Truth in politics? The Clintons? Yesterday, Hillary claimed that her husband’s increasingly intense behavior was out of love, just like any loving husband advocates on his wife’s behalf. That alone should say enough about the Clintons and truthfulness.
Unlike in 1992, when Hillary’s position as campaigner-in-chief gave voters a two-for-one deal on motivated, articulate politicians and allowed her to dish out the dirty work while insulating her husband from retribution, the same tactic employed this time around may hasten the destruction of the campaign and hand the nomination over to Obama.
The truth is, Bill’s antics affect far more than the Democratic party nomination. His factually challenged rantings, his lashing out at reporters, his off-the-wall accusations — all of it is, in my opinion, conduct unbecoming for a former President of the United States. Yes, his wife is in a tough race to become leader of the free world, a position that he knows a bit about. Yes, it is normal for a husband to support his wife, but that support should be more reminiscent of his role in the days and weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus, when he appeared on Hillary’s behalf no more often and no more intense than had Elizabeth Edwards, Michelle Obama, or Cindy McCain. Bill Clinton, like him or not, is well-respected across the globe, and to see him acting like this–a whiny, angry, sore loser–makes me equal parts happy and ashamed.
Perhaps the antics truly are rooted in love. Perhaps they’re just another shameful political tactic from the Clinton camp. Or, perhaps Bill just wants to live up to the standard for post-presidential conduct set forth by Jimmy Carter, the self-appointed diplomat always excited to disparage the United States and President Bush no matter the audience.
Either way, the conduct should stop. The former president should be reeled in.
Or at the very least just make sure he keeps that finger holstered until the general election. Once his wife has the nomination in hand, he can put that wrinkled, crooked, nasty thing wherever he wants to.