Bill Clinton has stepped back into the spotlight for the latest round of public yak-yak. His foundation created something grandly called the "Clinton Global Initiative," a hot-air meeting of monarchs and global bureaucrats. He granted interviews to ABC, NBC and CNN, and all three networks genuflected before him on cue.
Let's first dismiss the "news" that emerged, because it was another Clintonian yawner. Clinton bashed President Bush for supporting tax cuts and accused Republicans of intentionally lowering living standards for our children. In other words, it was the same old class warfare, Democrat-style, and worse. Clinton just can't stay in the shadows, and can't resist the urge to build himself up every five minutes by saying everything's gone sour since he left.
So how did his interviewers react to the same old nothingness? They blurred into a faceless mob of obsequious flatterers and publicists. Start with George Stephanopoulos at ABC. This interview served mostly to remind us that the Disney people thought the best "news" people to cover the Clintons were his former paid staffers.
Stephanopoulos began by agreeing with his old boss about the inevitable need for tax hikes: "You say roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy. [Bush] says no tax increase of any kind. We're spending $5 billion a month in Iraq, probably $200 billion on Katrina. Something's got to give." Clinton answered: "That's what I think." So much for the pretense of an interview. Stephanopoulos also asked liberal questions like whether Clinton agreed with alleged Republican Chuck Hagel that Iraq was a disaster, and what the Democratic bumper sticker should say in 2008.
It must be acknowledged that the old Clinton bimbo-patroller was the only TV questioner who came anywhere close to challenging Clinton, asking vaguely if there's anything more he could have done as president on disaster relief or race relations. Clinton's answer suggested one reason why liberals don't give him tougher questions. He quickly grew boastful and ridiculous. "We moved 100 times as many people out of poverty in eight years as had been moved out in the previous 12 years," he huffed. That's too comical to correct -- and for Stephanopoulos, too delicious to challenge.
The best question of the Clinton-coddling weekend came when Stephanopoulos wondered why, if Republicans voted for his Supreme Court nominees in large numbers despite their ideological disagreements, why shouldn't Democrats do the same for John Roberts?