What’s the matter with Bill?

June 2, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bill Clinton by Flickr user Chuckumentary (Creative Commons)

As his wife’s chances of winning the Democrats’ nomination for president recede into the realm of fantasy (Slate’s most recent deathwatch put Hillary’s chance of winning at an eye-wateringly improbable 0.4%), out come the long-delayed obituaries for a slain political dynasty. Though many will try to better it, I suspect none will be as scathing as this piece by a journalist who covered the Clinton Presidency for the Times and is even married to a onetime Hillary aide. It’s ruffled the Clintonistas’ feathers so much they went so far as to issue an outraged rebuttal. It’s easy to see why: 

To know Clinton is, sooner or later, to be exasperated by his indiscipline and disappointed by his shortcomings. But through it all, it has been easy enough to retain an enduring admiration—even affection—for a president whose sins against decorum and the dignity of his office seemed venial in contrast to the systemic indifference, incompetence, corruption, and constitutional predations of his successor’s administration. That is, easy enough until now.

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?

He’s been outspoken, outraged and outrageous whilst campaigning for his wife; he’s lost a huge amount of goodwill and respect in the party and his relations with the black community are at their lowest in his political life. Whilst he’ll doubtless blame anyone but himself – the media, the Obama campaign, the Vast Right-Wing Conspirace – I suspect he’s aware of the damage that’s been done to his reputation but is convinced that he has the political smarts to repair his image once again in the eyes of the public. Only time will tell if he can pull it off, but if he does, it’ll be the greatest comeback he’s ever made.

Photo by Flickr user Chuckumentary (Creative Commons)

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