I always said that Bill would be Hillary’s biggest problem. Always has been. Always will be. And in his interview with Chris Wallace last Sunday, he once again demonstrated why. With that on-air temper tantrum, he showed us Bad Billy, the red-faced, enraged, finger-wagging, thin-skinned Clinton who just can’t stop defending himself. Kind of reminiscent of the red-faced, thin-skinned, finger-wagging Clinton who so famously told the American public, “I did not have sex with that woman — Miss Lewinsky.”
We also were treated during the interview to the once-familiar Bill-the-Victim whining on about conservatives and right wingers and how they are out to get him. Added to that was his schoolyard taunt to Chris Wallace: “You’ve got that little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever.” Oh, dear! On Sunday, Clinton’s biggest problem, his lack of control, even managed to trump his alleged skills as a master of media. One friend described it as “the most cuckoo performance ever by an ex-president.”
But, frankly, I can’t stand Clinton even when he is being his old-smoothie self, as he tried to be at the start of the Wallace interview. With his carefully coiffed silver hair and well-tailored suit, he looks more and more like an aging Hollywood producer with a couple of hits and one big flop under his belt, desperately trying to stay in the game. All he really needed in the corner of his mouth — dare I suggest it — was an expensive cigar.
Yes, Clinton is clearly obsessed with protecting his legacy, and reminding him that it remains in the toilet is sure to set him off. Neither his rock-star popularity with certain groups nor his six-figure speech fees, gratifying as they may be, can help him with that. And it makes him, as Wallace found out, crazy.
But according to David Remnick’s recent article in The New Yorker, he has plans to solve that problem. He is “already, in effect, Advance Man in Chief” for Hillary’s 2008 campaign and the reason for that may be more about him than her. Remnick writes, “Bill Clinton is an ex-President in the business of creating a successor who happens to be his wife. The way he sees it, George W. Bush, and the United States Supreme Court denied him the legacy he deserved. Perhaps the wife who supported his every triumph and lifted him up after every fall, the wife he humiliated and nearly lost in 1998, will be the one to provide it.” Yes, we seem to be talking two-for-the-price-of-one yet again.
Remnick also shares with us how Bill buoys up Hillary when they are in the public eye together and she is just not as appealing as he is to the crowd that should love them both. When Remnick asked Clinton if he thought he might possibly be a negative factor in a Hillary race, he said he doubts he could be. Then he explains how he comforted her after her underwhelming performance, compared to his, at the Coretta Scott King funeral: “You don’t have to be better at this than me. You got to be better than whoever.” Not exactly the words of comfort any wife would want to here.
Yes, the Bill Factor is the biggest problem for Hillary, bigger than the way she flip-flops on the war. At some point, she will have to tell the voters what she would to do with him if she ends up in the White House. She can’t have him close at hand in the East Wing with not much to do than share pizza with interns while reporters watch his every move. (By the way, independent women voters, the constituents she must win, would be turned off by that, too.) And she wouldn’t want him in some appointed position, because, no matter whatever or wherever it is, it seems likely he just couldn’t resist trying to eclipse her. Remnick writes, “Leon Panetta…told me that the Clintons can employ his political skills and even their marriage as an asset, but only if they are disciplined.” But we were just reminded, yet again, that Bill Clinton is still not disciplined.
Can you imagine the conversation after the interview, when he got on his cell phone and asked, “Hillary, did you see that?” I remember Jim Carville saying after Clinton’s lies about Monica were exposed that he had been “taken to the wood shed.” Do you think there is a wood shed behind their house in Chappaqua? Bet he spent a very uncomfortable night.
— Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.