Explanations of Bill Clinton's very candid endorsement of the Bush tax cuts and Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital have run rampant. Some have even said he's hoping for a Romney win to pave the way for a Hillary candidacy in 2016. But the former president's aides have a simple, if cold, reason for their boss' remarks: he's too old to hold his tongue.
The genuine explanation, say people close to Clinton, is the same one that usually is the case: He was simply saying what he really thought, but in fuzzy, free-associating language almost guaranteed to produce controversy.
This was a habit that Clinton usually learned to control as president. But the circumstances now are much different.
Clinton, say associates, while mentally sharp, is older and a step off his political game, less attuned to the need for clarity and message-discipline during interviews.
“He’s 65 years old,” said one adviser, explaining how Clinton in a CNBC interview managed to say that the economy was in recession when it is not.
Harsh. Of course, it's a ridiculous argument to make: Romney himself is 65, and Hillary will be 65 just before the 2012 election. Indeed, just weeks ago, Clinton was seen as an elder statesman of the Democratic Party, a popular figure upon whom President Obama relied to help build support for his own initiatives. One off-message speech, and suddenly he's senile?
Likely not. Instead, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air speculates that Clinton's team is feeling significant pressure from Obama's camp. The current POTUS doesn't want to run on his record, as POTUS-emeritus suggested; thus, they're trying to write off Clinton's remarks as the innocuous ramblings of a man who's reached that certain age.
Team Obama must be exerting a whole lot of pressure to get a full recantation from Clinton and his camp, mainly for speaking the truth. Most people in the US do feel that we are in a recession, or at least a recessionary environment, and Mitt Romney did have a sterling business career at Bain Capital. The problem for Obama is that his campaign can’t handle those truths, literally, as they have to pretend that the economy is rosy and that Romney is an eeeeeeevil vampire capitalist in order to win, rather than defend their own record and agenda as Clinton suggested last week.
Like Ed, I believe Clinton's support for Obama is genuine; any perceived criticism on Clinton's part is recognition of what makes a good campaign. And a good campaign is one that doesn't always, always, always go negative, a move that leads the public to beleive you're desperate and plan-less. But if Team Obama is even will to throw Bill Clinton under the bus -- the most popular living former president -- then it's clear OFA has moved beyond desperate territory, and into reckless.