Brian Birdnow

The turbulent waters of American politics grew more treacherous last week as former President Bill Clinton plunged, uninvited into the 2012 campaign unleashing a number of rhetorical zingers, defending Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s private sector career and expressing an opinion that the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended in order to ward off a recession that Clinton sees looming just over the horizon. Those comments were not particularly noteworthy, except for the fact that they stand in direct opposition to the re-election strategy of the Obama campaign, which is to paint Romney as an agent of heartless capitalism, and to charge that the Bush tax cuts somehow gave us the Obama economy. What is noteworthy about these remarks is the simple fact that President Obama is Mrs. Bill Clinton’s boss, and the titular head of the Democratic Party.

Many observers are now trying to make sense of Bill Clinton’s remarks, or at least are trying to excuse them. Veteran Clinton watchers old enough to remember the 1992 campaign, and the subsequently comical Administrations note that the ex-President had a lamentable tendency to stray off message, when not reading from a prepared script. Certain journalists merely dismissed this as another indication of Clinton’s undisciplined mind and personality. Still others are suggesting that this is Clinton payback, evening the score for the “events” of 2007-08. Each of the preceding scenarios contains a kernel of plausibility, but each of them ignores the plain truth: Bill Clinton is kicking off the “Hillary Clinton For President” campaign, the 2016 edition. The latest version of the permanent Hillary presidential campaign is ramping up right now, as Mrs. Clinton and her celebrated husband prepare to abandon the badly listing S.S. Obama.


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.