Why Bill Clinton Has Spent The Last Several Days Spreading Lies

As I just posted, Factcheck.org has supported Obama in debunking the falsifications from Hillary Clinton on the Ronald Reagan matter in last night’s debate. Earlier in the day Eugene Robinson had similar comments defending Obama while also suggesting why Bill Clinton might be so upset:

Obama’s candidacy not only threatens to obliterate the dream of a Clinton Restoration. It also fundamentally calls into question Bill Clinton’s legacy by making it seem . . . not really such a big deal.

That, I believe, is the unforgivable insult. The Clintons picked up on this slight well before Obama made it explicit with his observation that Ronald Reagan had “changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

Let’s take a moment to consider that remark. Whether it was advisable for Obama to play the role of presidential historian in the midst of a no-holds-barred contest for the Democratic nomination, it’s hard to argue with what he said. I think Bill Clinton was a good president, at times very good. And I wouldn’t have voted for Reagan if you’d held a gun to my head. But even I have to recognize that Reagan — like Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union — was a transformational figure, for better or worse.

Bill Clinton’s brilliance was in the way he surveyed the post-Reagan landscape and figured out how to redefine and reposition the Democratic Party so that it became viable again. All the Democratic candidates who are running this year, including Obama, owe him their gratitude.

But Obama has set his sights higher, and implicit in his campaign is a promise, or a threat, to eclipse Clinton’s accomplishments. Obama doesn’t just want to piece together a 50-plus-1 coalition; he wants to forge a new post-partisan consensus that includes “Obama Republicans” — the equivalent of the Gipper’s “Reagan Democrats.” You can call that overly ambitious or even naive, but you can’t call it timid. Or deferential.

Perhaps Bill is just angry about coming out behind Reagan, and potentially Obama, in one comparison. Dick Morris has a different interpretation, seeing this as part of his strategy to help Hillary get elected:

He has two goals and is achieving them both spectacularly.

First, he wants to be the same kind of lightning rod for Hillary that she was for him during his run for the presidency.

As the 1992 Republican convention approached, Hillary ratcheted up her comments and profile precisely to attract GOP fire so that they would leave Bill alone…
In the days before Iowa and leading up to New Hampshire, Hillary was the prime topic of political discussion.She took shots for misusing Bill’s record and trying to adopt it as her own, for minimizing King’s contribution to civil rights, for crying, for attacking her opponents, and for changing her campaign style to become more likeable.

Now, she rarely gets hit anymore. They’re hitting Bill instead.

Like a red cape, he is attracting the attention of the bull so his wife the matador escapes unharmed.

The other method behind his madness is that Bill wants to suck up all the oxygen in the room and dominate the coverage of the Democratic contest. By doing so, he cuts Obama out of the news, pushes him off the front page, and usurps the headlines.

The question is whether Obama is really getting cut out of the news, or if the story of the election has become the dishonesty of the Clinton campaign. Yet another account of their deception is provided by Miles Mogulescu who hits many of the same points I’ve discussed the last few days. It might come down to whether these disputes distract from Obama’s message or whether they become seen as evidence that Obama is right in calling for change. The Clintons are hoping that simply dominating the news with attacks will work to their advantage. If the attacks are analyzed and their dishonesty is exposed, the Clintons are providing an excellent reason why they should not be returned to the White House.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    The Charters Of Dreams says:

    I really want to believe in Obama — in fact, for me, I love it if he was really another Bill Clinton (and the GOP was in charge of the house and senate — that’s the make the 90’s so great, but that’s going off topic here).

    The problem you’re overlooking is a fundamental weakness with Obama, and the Clintons are aware of it and they’re taking good advantage of it, and it all comes down to the question: “Dear Mr. Obama — where’s the beef?”

    Obama has excited the national media, Andrew Sullivan, young voters, and 38 percent of Iowa Democrats with his message of “change” and “hope” and “becoming one people, the United States of America.” It makes for a great speech — but it reminds me of what the Democratic establishment candidate, Walter Mondale, said to insurgent Gary Hart after Hart did well in the 1984 Iowa caucuses with a campaign of “new ideas”: Where’s the beef?

    It’s not that Obama hasn’t addressed questions of public policy. His campaign website has as many policy ideas as a Bill Clinton State of the Union Address. But, let’s face it, it’s just that they’re pretty much the same ideas: more taxes, more spending, more government help to scratch every itch a voter might have. He’s got more subsidies for workers who lose their jobs because of international competition, more subsidies for research and jobs and energy technology and broadband access and rural schools, more federal support for labor unions, and much much more.

    To help borrowers and employees, he proposes more regulations on lenders, credit card issuers, and employers. These would, of course, make lending and hiring more expensive, so fewer people would be hired, and their wages would be lower, and borrowing on credit cards and mortgages would be more costly.

    But my main point here is, these are the same policies that Sen. Hillary Clinton proposes. So what’s so new? In what way does Obama offer “change” or “hope” or something different from ”the same kind of partisan battling we had in the ’90s”?

    Now, you can argue with me about all this, about how similar or different O & H are from each other, but if O was really, REALLY, that different, would these Clinton attacks be so effectively distracting?

    Obama (and you) are spending alot of time defending him, clarifying what O really meant, really said.

    The whole debate, the whole dialog is now on Clinton’s terms . . . not because they’re so powerful, such good liars (they are, of course), but because Obama hasn’t really distinguished himself as something new. Maybe he is something really new, but it’s not getting across and now it’s left him vulnerable, and the Clintons, I believe, know this.

    Obama needs to nip this “where’s the beef” problem in the bud, or the race is going to continue to get a lot tougher, and the GOP is yet to even get into the ring . . .

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The real advantages of Obama over Clinton are in areas such as his opposition to the war when Clinton was supporting it, more consistent support for civil liberties and separation of church and state, their comparative positions on checking Executive power, and honesty.

    The differences on economic issues aren’t the type which are likely to be obvious from outlines of policies on a campaign web site, but there are some examples such as with Obama’s opposition to mandates. Another comparison of their economic views is here:

    http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=2693

    The article I quote does overstate the case in actually calling Obama a left-libertarian. It would be more accurate to say that his policies are more tolerable to libertarians as opposed to claiming Obama is one.

    Is the debate on Clinton’s terms? Possibly because Obama is forced to respond to her lies as opposed to promoting his own message. However he might be able to turn it around to harm Clinton. Obama has been calling for change in Washington. If he can move this debate to the next step and convince voters that these dishonest attacks show Clinton needs to be replaced by someone like Obama then this could work to his advantage. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much time to accomplish this, and whether he can win the nomination might depend upon it.

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