President Bill: Helping Or Hurting? Or Both?

Posted: Nov 11, 2007 12:01 AM
President Bill:  Helping Or Hurting?  Or Both?

…And the show rolls-on!

And what an extraordinary show it has been over the past several days, watching Bill and Hillary Clinton run for President.

Before we look at recent events, let’s go back a long, long time ago - - like, all the way back to February of this year. It was a very different era back then, for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

You might recall that as recently as February, there was much chatter about how Bill might “hurt” Hillary’s pursuits, especially if anybody dared to mention the “I” word - - impeachment - - in her presence.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, way back then Hillary campaign operatives were informing folks with other campaigns about Mrs. Clinton’s so-called “eleventh commandment”: “Thou shalt not mention anything related to the impeachment of her husband.” Clinton, they reasoned, was putting her “rivals on notice” and was all but daring other Democrats “to mention the ordeal again.”

Her folks even threw out a pre-emptive strike, claiming that anyone daring to reference Bill’s White House problems would be engaging in “the politics of personal destruction,” and would be “hitting below the belt.”

Further, some were suggesting way back then that Hillary might at times need to silently avoid having Bill with her on the campaign trail because, loveable as he is, President Bill Clinton still denotes scandal and chaos in the minds of some American voters.

Well, that was back in February.

And sixty days later, in April of this year, Hillary appeared to have abandoned her concerns over “the politics of personal destruction” and a close association with an impeached former President, and was once again happy to have Bill at her side. In fact, it was April of this year when she announced that, when she becomes President, she’ll appoint Bill to be America’s “Ambassador to the World.”

Since that speech, wherein she described Bill as “a great cheerleader for America,” the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign has featured President Bill in a variety of venues, with the consensus largely being that Bill is a tremendous asset.

But then the last Democratic debate happened, and afterwards Bill went, shall we say, “off script” just a bit.

The sequence of events went something like this:

First, Hillary got accused by her rivals of flip-flopping on everything from the war in Iraq, to illegal immigration policy, in the debate.

Then a few days later Bill Clinton shot-back at his fellow Democrats, saying that they were "piling on," and engaging in a "smear campaign" of his wife.

After that, several of Hillary's rivals - - John Edwards, Barack Obama, and even Christopher Dodd - - shot-back at both Bill AND Hillary, saying that they were both being "Outrageous!"

And then some folks from the Hillary campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity, of course, admitted that Bill’s remarks after the debate were not “officially” a part of the campaign response, and were likely a “hindrance” to advancing Hillary’s agenda.

And as if all that isn’t sufficiently interesting, here’s more: Hillary’s lead over Obama in the polls dropped.

The visceral reaction from Obama and Edwards to Hillary’s bungling of the “drivers licenses for illegals” debate question is very telling. And so was the willingness of other Democrats to criticize Bill and Hillary’s behavior after the debate. Both of these episodes point to a significant reality: despite Bill’s success at being twice elected, and despite the Clintons’ prowess at fundraising, under the surface there is still tremendous resentment among many Democrats over the “Clintonizing” of their party.

And this points to a broader question that must be answered by both Republicans and Democrats, and all other Americans as well: do we want to return the Bill and Hillary Show to Washington, and to a “Clintonized” White House?

Regardless of whether Bill helps or hurts right now, one thing is certain. If Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes our forty-fourth president, we will have at least another four years of their synergistic co-leadership, just as we had from 1993 until 2001.

Sure, some aspects of this would be new - - we’ve never had a female President before, we’ve never had a male First Spouse, and we’ve never had a former President be the First Spouse. But both Bill’s and Hillary’s finger prints will appear on all things Washington, just as was the case before.

And regardless of whether one likes the “show” or not, one thing is certain: regardless of anybody else’s fortunes, the Clinton’s always make things work out nicely for themselves.