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Tags: Bill Clinton

Hillary Interrupts Book Tour for Speaking Gig at Produce Convention



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Today’s schedule for Hillary Clinton:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the keynote speaker June 10 at a joint general session of the United Fresh Produce Association and Food Marketing Institute in Chicago.

The keynote session is scheduled for 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place.

Bill Clinton is giving a paid speech today as well:

Former president Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak Tuesday in Indianapolis at the annual conference of the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association.

Hillary Clinton is reportedly paid $200,000 per speech. Bill Clinton averaged $189,000 per speech from 2001 to 2012.

Those mortgages on those houses don’t pay themselves!

Day job interrupting your book tour? Tell me about it, Madame Secretary.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Bill Clinton

Ten Conclusions from the Lewinsky Scandal, 16 Years Later



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Also in today’s Jolt:

Marty! Set the Flux Capacitor to . . . 1998!

Tuesday we learned that Monica Lewinsky will be telling her side of the story in Vanity Fair:

After 10 years of virtual silence (“So silent, in fact,” she writes, “that the buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out? I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth”), Lewinsky, 40, says it is time to stop “tiptoeing around my past — and other people’s futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”

Ten conclusions on the Lewinsky scandal, 16 years later:

One: Many Americans were or are wary of judging a president caught in a sex scandal too harshly because they can recall times when they themselves did something stupid, or unwise, in the realm of sex.

Two: Nonetheless, our sympathy and empathy for those who make stupid mistakes because of their sex drives may prompt us to too casually dismiss the consequences of those mistakes.

The fascinating writer on philosophy Alain de Botton:

Only religions still take sex seriously, in the sense of properly respecting its power to turn us away from our priorities. Only religions see it as something potentially dangerous and needing to be guarded against. Perhaps only after killing many hours online at youporn.com can we appreciate that on this one point religions have got it right: Sex and sexual images can overwhelm our higher rational faculties with depressing ease. Religions are often mocked for being prudish, but they wouldn’t judge sex to be quite so bad if they didn’t also understand that it could be rather wonderful.

Three: Given the opportunity, some powerful men will choose to live like a sultan with a harem. Some Americans may vehemently disagree with an arrangement like this, but it is legal. (Think of Hugh Hefner, Tiger Woods pre-scandal, and Charlie Sheen.) But it’s one thing for a powerful man to accumulate his harem from the fortunes of a publishing empire or celebrity status; it’s another to do so from the stature acquired from being elected to public office. We don’t elect a man into the Oval Office so he can score with women more frequently.

Four: Bill Clinton was more like his idol John F. Kennedy than he knew; while he was president, at age 45, Kennedy had a sexual affair with a 19-year-old White House intern.

Five: In retrospect, Clinton’s wrongdoing in the Lewinsky scandal pales in comparison to his intermittent, weak, and insufficiently consequential responses to al-Qaeda attacks, which rank as the most consequential failure of his presidency.

Six: A lot of politicians have attempted to run plays from the Clinton playbook when caught in sex scandals (deny, delay, insist it’s a private matter, accuse the accusers of partisanship, and hope the public forgets): John Ensign, John Edwards, Larry Craig, Gary Condit, Eliot Spitzer, and Anthony Weiner. Most of the time the Clinton playbook doesn’t work for them because members of their party are nowhere near as emotionally invested in the success of them the way they were with Clinton in 1998.

Seven: It’s hard to feel much animosity towards Lewinsky, 16 years later. She made a dumb mistake at age 21, and yes, for a few years after the scandal, she made some crass attempts to cash in on her notoriety, but by the mid-Bush years she had attempted to live a normal life away from the spotlight. (Apparently her Vanity Fair article will detail how difficult it is to live a normal life once you’re known for a scandal such as this.)

Eight: I’m going to outsource this point to Ace:

Monica Lewinsky was a good soldier on Clinton’s behalf throughout the scandal, protecting him until she was credibly threatened with a perjury/obstruction of justice charge for telling lies to protect him. Since then she has remained largely silent.

And throughout this, the Right has generally been kinder to Lewinsky than the progressive/Democratic press. Not because we’re angels, mind you, but because of politics: Our target was Bill Clinton, not Monica Lewinsky.

But she was a threat to Bill Clinton, so Monica Lewinsky did in fact become a target for the progressive/Democratic press. As did all of Bill Clinton’s previous sexual conquests — the press routinely referred to women who spoke about their affairs with Clinton as “bimbo eruptions,” as if they were the ones solely at fault, and they were the ones solely worthy of mockery and scorn.

These damned Jezebel bimbos taking advantage of this poor, defenseless governor and then president.

Perhaps partisans grow to hate whatever harms their preferred presidents. Quite a few deficit hawks and fiscal conservatives held their tongues during the high-spending, high-deficit years of the Bush presidency, then re-embraced thriftiness with a passion once Obama took office. Since Bush left office, quite a few Republicans are much, much less enthusiastic about foreign military interventions and democracy promotion.

For Democrats, Monica Lewinsky nearly took down Bill Clinton’s presidency, so she’s the enemy, no matter how she felt about the president or what she did for him.

Nine: Bill Clinton is a class-A jerk. From Monica’s Story, the authorized biography by Andrew Morton:

The part that jumps out is, “All I think about is you and your job. I’m obsessed with you and finding you a job. I wake up in the morning, and it makes me sick thinking about it. My life is empty, except for you and this job search. All I have is my work and this obsession.”

His life is empty? What about his daughter?

Ten: We may be less judgmental about infidelity in politicians’ marriages — see Dennis Prager’s columns here and here — but we would still be wise to be wary of a potential president with a history of philandering as wide-ranging, lengthy, and notorious as Clinton’s was. It speaks to maturity, it speaks to impulse control, it speaks to how a potential president treats people, and it speaks to judgment.

Tags: Bill Clinton , Monica Lewinsky , Hillary Clinton

The Soft Underbelly of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Bid



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You are likely to see a lot of stories like this one in the coming years, alleging previously unreported reckless sexual behavior on the part of Bill Clinton while he was in the White House. Some rivals of Hillary Clinton will see this as a liability for her increasingly likely presidential campaign. More than a few people will recall how public sympathy for her exploded during the Lewinsky scandal, and contend these sorts of allegations actually help her; she’s soldiering on during great hardship, etc.

The years of 2015 and 2016 will feature a dramatically different political and economic environment than the late 1990s. In 1998, the country was at illusory peace (the threat of al-Qaeda was building, lurking, and beginning to strike at Americans overseas) and enjoying great prosperity, fueled largely by the dot-com bubble. A White House marriage marked by relentless, crass, and often risky philandering may seem like small potatoes in a time of economic stagnation and global instability . . . or it may seem like one more problem the country doesn’t need right now.

By themselves, tales of Bill Clinton’s affairs, past or present, won’t derail a Hillary Clinton presidential bid. But they may be a bit more baggage for a candidate who has already managed to lose a presidential race she was heavily favored to win.

Presuming he runs, Vice President Joe Biden may prove a bit more of an impediment than the early polling indicates. A Biden 2016 campaign will have a simple message, “Keep it going,” and he will pitch himself as Obama’s third term. Obama fans in the Democratic primary may buy that pitch or they may not, but it will be pretty difficult for any other Democrat to criticize Biden without implicitly criticizing the president.

No matter what the state of the country is in 2016, criticism of Obama in the Democratic primary will be rare. Think back to 2008, and how George W. Bush was rarely directly criticized by the GOP field that year. Once Obama took office, a lot of long-repressed frustration about runaway spending, coziness with Wall Street, and military interventions bubbled up from the GOP grassroots. But partisans find it extremely difficult to criticize “their guy” in the Oval Office, and they don’t want to hear it on the campaign trial.

You may see some subtle criticism of Obama and his policies, but Hillary won’t be able to make it. A governor like Martin O’Malley or Brian Schweitzer may be able to argue it’s time for a new face in Washington, or it’s time for a new generation of Democrats to step up. In 2016, Hillary will turn 68; she won’t be able to easily play the age card against then-73-year-old Biden.

Hillary’s not close enough to Obama to run on his record, but she’s not enough of an outsider to run against Washington. (Remember her foolish friends think she can be sold to the electorate as the Pope Francis of American government.)

Andrew Sullivan, of all people, points out the elephant in the room:

More importantly for me is the inability of her supporters to answer a simple question. I was having dinner with a real Clinton fan the other night, and I actually stumped him (and he’s not easily stumped). What have been Hillary Clinton’s major, signature accomplishments in her long career in public life? What did she achieve in her eight years as First Lady exactly? What stamp did she put on national policy in her time as Senator from New York? What were her defining and singular achievements as secretary-of-state?

Ben Smith’s article in BuzzFeed quotes “a former top Obama aide, who said she would like to see a woman elected but worried that Clinton doesn’t have a compelling rationale for her candidacy.”

The Democratic party of the late Obama years is the party of Elizabeth Warren, who described herself as the “intellectual godmother of Occupy Wall Street,” and the class warfare of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has always been very comfortable with Wall Street, telling Goldman Sachs executives in a paid speech last year that she found banker-bashing foolish. Some liberal blogs call the Clinton Foundation a factory for favor-trading and transactional politics with big corporations. It’s surprising that more Democrats with presidential ambitions aren’t licking their lips in anticipation.

The playbook to beat Hillary was executed by Obama in 2008. A lot of those same criticisms — “manufactured, untrustworthy, and a creature of forgotten Baby Boom quarrels” — are still in play for 2016.

In this Getty photograph from earlier this week, the choice of a new generation of Democrats.

UPDATE: Notice what CNN’s Peter Hamby found in Iowa:

A common theme emerged in conversations about Clinton with more than two dozen Democratic activists, strategists and elected officials during a recent winter week in Iowa: Respect for her within the party runs deep, burnished since 2008 by her tour of duty at the State Department, but widespread passion for Clinton remains wanting.

Can you win a Democratic presidential primary with just “deep respect”? Or is some passion, enthusiasm and inspiration necessary?

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Joe Biden , Bill Clinton , Martin O'Malley , Brian Schweitzer

Ted Cruz: He’s Going the Distance, He’s Going for Speed



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Today’s Morning Jolt features a lot of thoughts inspired by yesterday’s “Future of Conservatism” panel discussion put on by the Future 500 at the National Press Club, but the even bigger joys of the morning are Ted Cruz’s endurance and Bill Clinton’s boredom:

We Feel That Way Too, President Clinton.

Do you think Bill Clinton was bored listening to President Obama talk about Obamacare yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative?

Ted Cruz Is Still Talking!

Go, Ted, go! Love him, hate him, doubt his strategy, embrace his strategy, you have to admire how he’s going the distance for what he believes in:

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has officially pulled an all-nighter in the U.S. Senate as he advocated for the defunding of Obamacare into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Wearing black tennis shoes for comfort, the Texas senator started speaking at 2:41 p.m. on Tuesday and has continued for over 16 hours as of 6:45 a.m. Wednesday.



“I will say standing here after 14 hours, standing on your feet, there’s sometimes some pain, sometimes some fatigue that is involved,” Cruz said on the Senate floor.  “But you know what?  There’s far more pain involved in rolling over…far more pain in hiding in the shadows, far more pain in not standing for principle, not standing for the good, not standing for integrity.”



Senate rules require Cruz to stand throughout his speech but allow him to yield to questions from other senators.  Several Republican senators, including Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., helped Cruz with his speech at various points throughout the night.  Even Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., chimed in with questions for the Texas senator.



Around 3:33 a.m. Wednesday, Cruz beat the record for the longest speech this year, a record previously held by Paul, who filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director for 12 hours and 52 minutes last March.  

Tags: Ted Cruz , Bill Clinton , Obamacare , Barack Obama

The Clinton Foundation: Helping the Rich & Powerful Feel Good About Themselves



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Huge Morning Jolt today – “Yuuuuuge,” as Donald Trump would say. The slow-motion train-wreck of Obamacare, Cory Booker’s pathological condition, the Senate’s majority leader and two minority leaders, and then…

The Clinton Foundation: Helping the Rich & Powerful Feel Good About Themselves

The Clinton Foundation is going to be the subject of a lot of scrutiny from here on out:

Hillary Clinton’s announcement in May that she would be joining her husband’s foundation seemed, to outsiders, like the most natural thing in the world: A high-minded, charitable base for whatever the former Secretary of State might choose to do.

But inside Clinton’s circle, the decision provoked a frisson of worry: Clinton was giving up, some thought, the (genuinely) plausible deniability that could protect her from a charitable venture that had always had, up close, a seedy side.

The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis Sunday night opened what are likely to be three years of close public scrutiny of the very private, elite, and lucrative shadow of the Clinton foundation — and specifically, the question of what the foundation’s big donors got in exchange for their hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions. MacGillis’s article is a profile of the architect of what he describes as the “transactionalism” at the heart of Clinton-land, his former aide Doug Band, and his role in shaping a singular charitable enterprise. Band maintained, simultaneously, an “executive consulting” firm called Teneo, whose dealings are totally opaque, aside from having let Band spend $8.8 million on an Upper East Side apartment.

“There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity,” MacGillis writes.

Politico and the New York Times earlier this year touched on problems at the foundation, and at the suggestion that Chelsea Clinton had brought in an outside law firm to audit it. The TNR piece adds a great deal of detail, and raises the question of how money moved in and out of Teneo, and for what.

Who does this guy think he is, Terry McAuliffe?

If you’re wondering where the Foundation spends all that money…

Bill Clinton’s foundation has spent more than $50 million on travel expenses since 2003, an analysis of the non-profit’s tax forms reveal.

The web of foundations run by the former president spent an eye-opening $12.1 million on travel in 2011 alone, according to an internal audit conducted by foundation accountants. That’s enough to by 12,000 air tickets costing $1,000 each, or 33 air tickets each day of the year.

According to previously undisclosed data provided by the Clinton Foundation, presidential trips accounted for 13 percent of the 2010 travel budget and 10 percent of the 2011 travel budget.

That puts Bill Clinton’s single-year travel tab for 2011 at more than $1 million. A foundation official wouldn’t say how many presidential trips occurred in that time frame.

The Clinton Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Somewhere along the line, it became socially acceptable for nonprofits to spend as much on their executives as Fortune 500 companies do.

But you know their response. Come on. Say it with me: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Tags: Clinton Foundation , Bill Clinton , Hillary Clinton

Bill Clinton Joins John Edwards as ‘Father of the Year’ Award-Winner



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Of course.

The National Father’s Day Committee, an entity of the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, each year confers Father of the Year Honors on contemporary lifestyle leaders of our culture whose lives are dedicated to family, citizenship, charity, civility, responsibility and reverence.

Their 2007 award winner? John Edwards.

This year’s award winner? Bill Clinton.

FILE PHOTO: President Bill Clinton, at right, with an unidentified supporter in 1995.

Tags: John Edwards , Bill Clinton

The State of the Union Address: Our National Pro Bowl



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And you thought the Pope stepped on Obama’s State of the Union address.

Today’s Morning Jolt notes the loud BOOM out of North Korea from another nuclear test, Debbie Wasserman Schultz getting caught cheating, and then this contemplation of why the State of the Union Address doesn’t serve its purpose anymore:

The State of the Union Address: Our National Pro Bowl

If you said to me, “let’s end the NFL Pro Bowl,” I’d probably disagree. Because while I haven’t watched a Pro Bowl in its entirety in decades, I’d hate to see a tradition end. But as any football fan will acknowledge, the Pro Bowl is a quasi-necessary event that is executed in a fundamentally flawed fashion. For starters, it occurs at the end of the season, instead of at the halfway point of the season like in other sports. This is because of players’ legitimate fear of injury in a game that has only pride on the line; as a result, everybody plays at about half-speed. Selected players decline to go, so you get the second, third, and sometimes fourth-best players at each position. The NFL moved it to the week before the Super Bowl, to make it less of an afterthought to the season, but now the players on teams in the Super Bowl skip the game.

My friends, the president’s State of the Union Address is our national pro bowl — a simulation of the art of persuasion and politics featuring all the big stars, played at about half speed, with no real consequence.

Really, quick, name one line from any of Obama’s previous addresses. No, the Joe Wilson “You lie!” cry came at a mid-year address to Congress making his pitch for Obamacare, not the State of the Union address. The only moment I could remember was Justice Alito shaking his head and quietly saying, “not true” when Obama claimed that “the Supreme Court reversed a century of law” in the Citizens United decision.

When the Washington Post assembled the “10 most memorable State of the Union addresses,” the only moment from the Obama years was Alito’s reaction; the only one from the Bush years was the “Axis of Evil” line.

CNN’s Tom Foreman — you know, the guy who wrote a letter to the president every day for four years — says the State of the Union Address “is a report card, and a prognostication.”

No, actually, it’s not, and the SOTUA would be better if it were indeed either of those, perhaps in chart form. Companies give annual reports, students get grades, employees get evaluations. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of the usual happy talk — “my fellow Americans, the state of our union is strong” — the president and Congress went over all of the usual metric of our national performance — everything from GDP to unemployment to high school graduation rates to mortality rates to quality-of-life polling — and evaluated where American life had been going well and not so well?

In theory, this could be enormously useful. Of course, part of the problem is the format of the “address,” and the thankless job of offering the response, which inevitably is declared to appear “smaller” than the president’s speech. Thank you, pundit world, we hadn’t noticed that the politician giving the response hadn’t delivered the speech in a large, historic chamber and been interrupted for applause after every sentence.

You’ll recall Matt Welch’s discovery from last year about just how interchangeable the rhetoric is:

Starting with John F. Kennedy’s address to a joint session of Congress in 1961, you could take one sentence from each SOTU since, in chronological order, and cobble together a speech that will likely resemble much of what you’ll hear tonight. So that’s precisely what I’ve done.

Every president uses the event as just another speech, and avoids anything resembling a hard-nosed assessment of where they’ve made progress and where they need to improve their performance. What’s fascinating is the ritual news articles about drafts of the speech and previews, as if you or I couldn’t predict a half dozen points and themes. This is why we have State of the Union drinking games — because people can often predict the precise phrases, never mind the topics or arguments. We’ll hear some variation of all of these:

  • “I am totally focused upon those who are still hurting in our economy that I said was in recovery, and that my staffers are now carefully insisting is ‘poised on the brink of recovery,’ whatever that means. To ensure we get off the brink of the recovery, and into the actual, you know, recovery part of the recovery, I will propose investments in infrastructure and education and green jobs and winning the future and solar panels and all of the usual stuff. It’s like that red-hot Recovery Summer we all enjoyed, even bigger and better. I will now reuse a line that was tired by the end of the 2008 campaign, that ‘some say we can’t afford to make these investments. I say we can’t afford to NOT make these investments.’ Now I will stop to bask in the applause of the remaining House Democrats who voted for the stimulus.”
  • “Look, up in those seats over there. A family connected with the Newtown shooting. Surely we can all agree that whatever your view on guns, opposition to my proposals means you don’t care about kindergartners.”
  • “Congress must act on my immigration plan that I have not written down. It is really important that we not give the illegal immigrants what they actually say they are seeking — the right to work here and send money back to their families in their own countries, with hopes of perhaps returning someday much wealthier — but to make them become full citizens, as quickly as possible, with instructions on how to vote Democrat in November.”
  • “Confirm my cabinet without delay. Chuck Hagel was great in that hearing, wasn’t he?”
  • “Partisanship is destroying America’s faith in Washington, and it is the fault of those blasted Republicans.”

And as with most of the previous addresses, they’ll be forgotten by Wednesday afternoon.

For a different view, here’s Clinton speechwriter (and once funny cartoonist) Jeff Shesol in 2010, seeming to suggest the address is resistant to reform or reinvention, because those within believe the format works:

It’s easy to kick this speech around. I’ve done so myself — even as I was helping draft one. In late 1998, as a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, I wrote a memo complaining that “The Four (or Six or Sixteen) Challenges of the New Century” was not, in and of itself, a theme. I made the case instead for a compact, tightly thematic address — one that might be written by committee, but didn’t sound like it.

I lost that argument, and learned something in the process. Though Clinton’s 1999 State of the Union is not destined to be recited by schoolchildren a generation hence, it accomplished exactly what these speeches aim to accomplish. It rallied his supporters, spelled out his priorities for the year, gave direction to his party in Congress, and provided a certain shape and coherence to the national narrative.

The fact that Shesol could be brought around to believe Clinton’s 1999 address represents a triumph of the genre — quick, name anything you can remember about it — suggests how deep-rooted the laundry-list mentality is among White House speechwriters, past and present. The speech is background music to most Americans — the president recites parts of the federal government doing good things, pledges to continue to expand it, and members of his party leap out of their seats every time he pauses too long, lest the public believe that any utterance or clearing of a throat wasn’t worth a standing ovation.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton , State of the Union Address

Surely Some Non-Perjurer Could Have Made the ‘Liar’ Attack



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Last night, after Bill Clinton’s speech ended, the good folks at CBSNews.com hustled us down to the convention floor, along with Ben Smith of BuzzFeed and Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post.

 

Host John Dickerson said he was reminded of the old, good line, “What follows a [Hubert] Humphrey dinner speech? Breakfast.”

Tags: Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton Is Still Talking



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Three sections from the Morning Jolt of Thursday:

Lucky for Republicans, Bill Clinton Thinks He’s Too Good for an Editor

Bill Clinton saved Republicans by being self-indulgent.

Because, for about ten to fifteen minutes last night, ol’ Bubba’s mojo was working. Clinton is the best speaker the Democrats have — much better than Obama. Just one serving of Clinton’s emoting demonstrates how overrated Obama’s in-this-moment-we-make-history grandeur shtick is. So they gave Clinton the toughest assignments: Persuade the public that the so-called “recovery” is the best anyone could have hoped for, that none of the Republican criticisms of Obama raise any legitimate points, and that there really is reason to believe that the next four years will be better than the past four.

Clinton has a gift for making the unreasonable sound reasonable and making the reasonable sound unreasonable, and it worked for the first . . . ten to fifteen minutes or so. But somewhere around “partnership, not partisanship” — a sentiment completely at odds with every other speech given at this convention, and about 99 percent of the messaging from the Obama campaign and its allied super PACs — the speech became a bridge too far. And then it went on. And on. And on. Longer than Clinton’s much-mocked 1988 keynote address.

The nightly newscasts were delayed considerably. The comments on Twitter became less adoring and cheering and more and more questions about when Clinton would wrap it up. And Clinton’s speech just kept going.

As the sections continued, it became clear that this is what Bill Clinton lives for — how he misses the excitement, the attention, the power. . . . The presidency is like a drug, and while I’m sure his post-presidential life has its perks — though he is a vegan now — nothing is quite like having an arena full of adoring fans, hanging on your every word, ready to applaud and cheer your every utterance. The two-term limit is the only thing that is keeping him from running again.

And the speech just kept going.

The man impeached for committing perjury accused Republicans of lying. And the speech just kept going.

The man who embarrassed his most loyal fans and followers and staff by engaging in wildly reckless behavior and then offering implausible explanations and even more implausible excuses, who once suggested the political rhetoric of his foes motivated Timothy McVeigh, now insisted that politics “can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.” And the speech just kept going.

Somehow it seemed fitting that the remaining viewers who were still watching were, in all likelihood, doing so in bed.

By the time it ended, everyone forgot that Bill Clinton began his tribute to President Obama by saluting his excellent judgment in whom to marry. I wonder how the secretary of state interpreted that remark.

2. The Pre-Game Show The 8 p.m. hour began with Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

How often does the head of a PAC address a political convention? I suppose a lot of candidates and former candidates have PACs, but Richards is there as . . . only the head of a powerful fundraising and political advertising organization. I’m not saying it’s a scandal, just a bit odd.

Tabitha Hale tweeted: “She said, ‘when women aren’t at the table, we are on the menu.’ Mitt Romney WILL EAT YOU!”

Ah, she’s the daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards. Well, that explains a bit.

Later, the president of the United Auto Workers spoke. Do the Republicans have the heads of their component interest groups speak? What is the equivalent of the UAW to Republicans? Defense contractors? The energy industry?

The Washington Free Beacon’s Katherine Miller observes, “Cecile Richards looks like she came out of central casting for the other woman, a high-powered attorney in a 1997 romantic comedy.”

I’ve heard good things about Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, but I didn’t see much in his speech to indicate he’s a rising star with charisma to spare. I did like his line that microbrewery production in his home state is up by 30 percent, though.

Governor Jack Markell of Delaware was mildly interesting, because he had the job of emphasizing that Democrats don’t hate businesses. He talked briefly about his own business experience and mentioned that he had an MBA — which generated the most tepid level of applause.

9:02: I hear that the fire marshals will no longer allow people into the building. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reports that “hundreds of delegates and journalists are locked out of the arena.” ABC News’s Jake Tapper reports that the crowd is getting “testy.”

9:45: Did Sandra Fluke get skipped? We’re past the point she was supposed to speak. Her sudden withdrawal would be . . . inconceivable.

Instead, we had a long, long, long address from the president of the UAW and then a trio of workers who blame their job losses on Bain Capital. I suppose we should be thankful that they didn’t roll out Joe Soptic to give a “Mitt Romney murdered my wife” speech.

10:00 p.m.: Ah, Sandra Fluke was held until prime time. The Democrats have placed their bet that her demand that her birth control be covered by her Catholic institution of higher learning is a winning one, and worthy of as wide an audience as possible . . . though perhaps a moot point, as the non-cable network correspondents’ introductions overrode her remarks.

I suppose if you’re a Democrat, and you’re going to have Sandra Fluke give a speech at your convention, that was the speech you want her to give. The problem is that the entire concept of Fluke speaking seems fundamentally flawed:

She’s 30 and she’s a student. Her entire pitch is based upon her demand that her (Catholic) univesity pay for something that many people pay for themselves. Rush Limbaugh calling her the s-word is a terrible thing to say, but Fluke acts as if it is some sort of massive national scandal that she was called a nasty name, in a culture where people send death threats over movie reviews. Her entire address is based upon the mentality of a victim.

10:15 Elizabeth Warren takes the stage. The cheers go up another decibel; this is prime time.

“Our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered. Talk to the construction worker I met from Malden, Massachusetts, who went nine months without finding work. Talk to the head of a manufacturing company in Franklin trying to protect jobs but worried about rising costs. Talk to the student in Worcester who worked hard to finish his college degree, and now he’s drowning in debt.” Four more years!

“He and Paul Ryan would pulverize financial reform, voucher-ize Medicare, and vaporize Obamacare!” Some delegates applaud in response to this; undoubtedly they are applauding what they think is a good attack line, but it looks like they’re applauding the vaporization of the unpopular law.

I suppose Warren did herself some good, but her pitch, and that of all of the Democrat speakers, requires a quite difficult pivot: They must first emphasize their empathy with those who are struggling to find jobs, full-time work, or better jobs, to refute the charge that they’re out of touch about the economy. Then they must offer some variation of, “You’ve never had it so good. Four more years!”

Walking past my spot during the course of the evening: Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.); Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.); former White House staffer Van Jones (D., Truther); Priorities USA super-PAC head honcho Bill Burton; Ashley Judd (as stunning as you would expect).

3. One Party’s for God and Jerusalem . . . The Other, Not So Much

So, if Republicans wanted the second day of the Democratic convention to go terribly wrong for the president’s party, what would they wish for?

How about a party platform that removes what had been some pretty-boilerplate language about God and a pledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel? How about a last-minute effort to undo the damage of those platform changes, and the assembled delegates being particularly vocal in their disagreement with the damage-control efforts? How about the Democratic National Convention delegates loudly booing God and Jerusalem? (Somewhere in the Fox News workspace, Karl Rove just stepped away from his pundit desk to just breathe it in deeply and savor the moment.) How about the Obama campaign making another attempt to save the circumstances by telling the Associated Press that the president “personally intervened” to restore the old language, while two members of the platform-writing committee told the blog of Foreign Policy magazine that those positions were an effort to reflect the current Obama-administration policies?

Coming up tomorrow night: booing motherhood, the flag, apple pie, and baseball.

Politico’s Dylan Byers:

Democratic National Committee chiefs Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Patrick Gaspard cancelled interviews with local media outlets tonight, amid controversy surrounding the party’s decision to reintroduce “God” and “Jerusalem” to the platform.

Blair Miller of WSOC-TV, ABC’s Charlotte affiliate, also Tweeted that Wasserman Schultz canceled her interview with him, without explanation. “After my Romney interview today, we were planning to interview Debbie Wasserman Schultz live,” he wrote. “However, she did not show up. Her staff not answering calls.”

Wasserman Schultz went on CNN tonight and denied reports of “discord” with the White House over the party’s decision to include the terms, claiming the party had “a two-thirds vote” on the issue.

After the interview, CNN host Anderson Cooper said Wasserman Schultz’s version of events was “an alternate reality.”

“From a reality standpoint,” he said, “to say flat-out, there was no discord, is just not true.”

By the way, the Jerusalem-is-the-capital-of-Israel foul-up is especially egregious, because this is one of those promises that never really needs to be kept, at least if recent history is any suggestion. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton attacked George H. W. Bush as soft in his support for Israel, pledging to move the U.S. embassy — currently in Tel Aviv — to Jerusalem. (If I remember correctly, we have a consulate in Jerusalem.) Then, once in office, Clinton and his team took a good look at the ramifications of that move — another round of predictable outrage and protests in the Arab world, a fairly serious security headache for staff within the embassy, and so on. And so Clinton set up a group to study it . . . that studied it . . . and studied it . . . and studied it . . . and basically kicked the can down the road for eight years. In 2000, George W. Bush used the exact same card against Democrats, made the exact same pledges to groups focused on U.S.-Israeli relations . . . and then ended up going down the same cul-de-sac of reviews, discussions, and analyses, and more reviews, discussions, and analyses. I’m sure there are few fans of the idea in Foggy Bottom, and nobody wants to be the one who has to answer for the decision if, God forbid, Hamas, Hezbollah, or other group sets off a car bomb outside the new embassy shortly after its opening. Sure, every U.S. diplomat abroad is a potential target for terrorism, but a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem would instantly rocket to the top of terrorists’ target lists.

In 2008 Barack Obama and his campaign broke with the tradition; he did not promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. You could say this represents a certain honorable honesty, a reluctance to make a promise he clearly had no intention of keeping . . .or maybe you could say this was a unique insult to Israel — he wasn’t even willing to make the same false promises his predecessors had. (The upside-down world of politics: Obama didn’t even respect friends of Israel enough to lie to them!)

As for God, expect just about every Democrat to invoke religion and faith from here on out. Last night featured one of the “Nuns on the Bus.” Elizabeth Warren said, “I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school,” and quoted Scripture. (She didn’t refer to her alleged Native American heritage at all.)

Tags: Bill Clinton

The Awkward Question of the Day: Carrying Bags or Getting Coffee?



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Tonight, former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention, making the case for another term for President Barack Obama.

Of course, the two men have not always been so friendly. From Ryan Lizza’s piece in The New Yorker:

Tim Russert told me that, according to his sources, Bill Clinton, in an effort to secure an endorsement for Hillary from Ted Kennedy, said to Kennedy, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”

But the book Game Change offers a different version of what Clinton allegedly said:

The day after Iowa, he phoned Kennedy and pressed for an endorsement, making the case for his wife. But Bill then went on, belittling Obama in a manner that deeply offended Kennedy. Recounting the conversation later to a friend, Teddy fumed that Clinton had said, A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.

So we know Bill Clinton said some variation of “A few years ago, this guy would have been” and followed it with something a servant, waiter, or butler would do. I’ll leave it to others to decide which is more insulting.

But Clinton has never elaborated on this comment, and why he didn’t think Obama was sufficiently qualified or experienced enough to be president. And while the comment is an exaggeration, there’s no disputing that Obama’s career trajectory was one of the fastest and highest in American politics: in 2000, Obama was a little-known state senator who had just lost an ill-advised primary challenge to Rep. Bobby Rush; he was broke and fielding questions from the Federal Election Commission about his campaign finances; and allegedly Michelle was strongly contemplating divorcing him. Eight years later, he was president of the United States.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton

Were Our Problems ‘12 Years in the Making’?



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Ron Brownstein of National Journal talks to Obama supporters in Colorado:

“With the situation he came into, he did the best he could,” said [Katie] McKinney, 33, a single mother who started work recently as a medical technician. “There’s no quick fix. The problems were 12 years in the making.”

That darn second term of Bill Clinton!

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton

Hmm. Mitt Praises Bill, Bill Praises Mitt.



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Hmm.

Mitt Romney, May 8:

“President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America.  Liberal policies didn’t work then, they haven’t worked over the last four years, and they won’t work in the future. New Democrats had abandoned those policies, but President Obama resurrected them, with predictable results. President Clinton said the era of big government was over. President Obama brought it back with a vengeance.”

Mitt Romney, May 15:

Speaking at a campaign stop in Iowa on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama for abandoning the “Clinton Doctrine.” He went on to suggest that there is some level of personal hostility between President Obama and the Clintons. “It’s enough to make you wonder if maybe it was a personal beef with the Clintons,” said Romney, “But probably that – it runs much deeper than that.”

Bill Clinton, yesterday:

“I don’t think that we ought to get into the position where we say ‘This is bad work. This is good work,’” Clinton said. “The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.” Clinton also went on to say that Romney’s time at Bain Capital represented a “good business career.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton , Mitt Romney

Bill Wanted Hillary to Challenge Obama in This Year’s Primary?



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The last Morning Jolt of the week offers minute-by-minute progression of Romney/RNC rapid response, Bully-gate, and one of my favorite figures in politics getting a long look as a Romney running mate . . . and then this intriguing allegation:

The Alleged Hillary Primary Challenge That Almost Happened

Did this really happen? Easy to believe, at any rate . . .

Bill Clinton thought so little of President Obama — mocking him as an “amateur” — that he pressed his wife last summer to quit her job as secretary of state and challenge him in the primaries, a new book claims,

“The country needs you!” the former president told Hillary Clinton, urging her to run this year, according to accounts of the conversation included in Edward Klein’s new biography of Obama.

The title of Klein’s explosive, unauthorized bio of Obama, The Amateur (Regnery Publishing), was taken directly from Bill Clinton’s bombshell criticism of the president, the author said.

Mister President, it’s not too late to endorse Keith Judd.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton , Hillary Clinton

Would Rubio as Veep Help Carry Florida? Early Data Says, ‘Probably.’



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At this point, talk of a Somebody-Rubio ticket or an Obama-Clinton ticket is just idle speculation. For what it’s worth, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida insists he’s not interested in the vice-presidency, and President Obama insists that Vice President Biden is sticking around for the long haul.

But in Florida, they’re polling on this question nonetheless:

A new poll of registered voters in Florida shows if Sen. Marco Rubio is the VP candidate, the Republican ticket would get 46 percent of votes. With that scenario, President Barack Obama would receive 41 percent.

If President Obama were to drop current Vice President Joe Biden and add current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the ticket, 50 percent of voters would favor the them.

With both Rubio and Clinton on their respective party’s tickets, the race tightens — with 46 percent of vote going to the Democrats and 43 percent for the Republicans.

The poll by Suffolk also found Rubio has a 40 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable rating.

President Obama has a 45 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable rating. The poll is of registered voters, 41 percent Democrats, 36 percent Republicans, 23 percent no party/other.

Tags: Bill Clinton , Marco Rubio

From 1992 to Today, America’s Young People Clamoring for . . . ‘Stuff’



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Watching the vague, contradictory, and often wildly unrealistic demands from the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, I was reminded of this sketch on Saturday Night Live, from 1992, featuring Bill Clinton (Phil Hartman) interacting with undecided voters (Melanie Hutsell):

[Undecided Female Voter 1 steps forward ] 

Ted Koppel: Ma’am? Do you have a question

Undecided Female Voter 1: See, it’s like, you look all around, and you see all this stuff? And, everybody’s got stuff but me! Where’s mine?! Where’s MY stuff?! I’m young, man! I should have stuff, too! WHERE’S MY STUFF?!! 

Bill Clinton: Well, that’s a really good point. I hear this a lot. I think if this election is about anything, it’s about . . . “stuff”. It’s about the fact that, under Reagan, Bush, Quayle, more people are working harder and harder for less stuff. [ Hillary nods and smiles ] 

Undecided Female Voter 1: [ twitching ] Where’s my stuff, man?! 

Bill Clinton: Exactly! Where is your stuff? We’re in danger of raising the first generation of Americans who . . . will have less stuff than their parents. 

Undecided Female Voter 1: Stuff! Yeah! 

Ted Koppel: So, has Gov. Clinton influenced the way you will vote

Undecided Female Voter 1: I’m . . . not voting ‘til I get my stuff

Ted Koppel: Your lips are moving, but I don’t understand a word you’re saying. Thank you. [she returns to her seat, as another undecided voters steps up ]

More than anything else, these protests are about . . . “stuff.”

Tags: Bill Clinton , Occupy Wall Street

What Is Bill Clinton Thinking as He Watches Weiner?



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The Wednesday Morning Jolt features a look at Michele Bachmann adviser Ed Rollins’s slam of Sarah Palin and Obama’s argument on the economy, but first . . . what is Bill Clinton thinking as he watches the Weiner scandal unfold?

The Fallout of a Radioactive Weiner Spreads

I suspect that some recent night, in plush surroundings, Bill Clinton poured himself a drink of some sort of brown liquor and lamented to some trusted male friend, beginning with a sigh. “Shame about the Weiner kid. We’ve all been there, right? Although I have to admit, I find the whole thing kind of creepy . . . Stop laughing. I mean it. I mean, back in my day, if you were gonna have a little piece on the side, you had to actually reach out and touch the girl. These young guys today, with their texting and their sexting, I don’t know . . .” His shook his head and his gaze turned to the window. “I think if you’re gonna cheat, you really ought to have the person right there in front of you. Otherwise, there’s no, you know, honor in it. What’s with these kids today, so darn busy that they have to squeeze in their affairs on the web and with their blackberries and all their doodads? I made time for girls when I was talking to members of Congress about putting U.S. troops in Bosnia! Multi-task, man! If the woman on the side means enough to you, you’re willing to make that commitment. Otherwise, this cyber-flirting — it’s all so cold and impersonal, a disconnected way of expressing a really personal connection. Weenie says he was carrying on with six or seven women — hey, how special do you think each one of them feels? ‘I’ll Tweet ya, I’ll sext ya.’ Hey, Facebook is no substitute for face time. Or whatever body part time you prefer.”

He takes a final sip. “It just feels like these politicians today, they’ve just forgotten their values.”

This is entirely fictitious, but you could see him thinking this, right? Bill Clinton, traditionalist adulterer?

Democrats are slamming doors on Weiner as if he had kissed President Bush after the State of the Union speech or something. CNN just posts Harry Reid’s comments verbatim:

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid gave embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner no love on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

“I know Congressman Weiner and I wish there was some way I can defend him, but I can’t. OK?” Reid said.

And then there was this exchange with reporters:

Q: You didn’t say whether you thought Congressman Weiner should resign.
Reid: I’m not here to defend Weiner.

Q: What do you think he should do?
Reid: That’s all I’m going to say.

Q: Senator Reid, what advice would you give him if he asked you?
Reid: Call somebody else.

In the Corner, Matthew Shaffer lays out how none of those who were most loudly pointing the fingers at Andrew Breitbart’s sinister hands behind all this have recanted or apologized — not Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, not anyone at Kos, not Charles Johnson, nor Joy Behar. I particularly like the theory from one lefty blogger that Breitbart is blackmailing Weiner into claiming responsibility and covering up his Breit-work.

This is who they are. When reality does not conform to their theory, they do not toss away the theory. They just adjust it to make their heroes more saintly and their opponents more dastardly.

 

Tags: Anthony Weiner , Bill Clinton , Harry Reid

Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan’s Most Unlikely Rescuer



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It’s another “bad boys” edition of the Morning Jolt, looking at John Edwards, Ed Schultz, and Bill Clinton. Is the former president bored, mischief-making, unable to repress a desire to complicate life for Obama, or genuinely wanting to put the country’s interest first?

Bill Clinton Goes Rogue

Oh, he’s been dormant for a long time. But the wild, unpredictable, Obama-whacking Bill Clinton of early 2008 might just be back.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl: “ABC News was behind the scenes with the Wisconsin Congressman and GOP Budget Committee Chairman when he got some words of encouragement none other than former President Bill Clinton. “‘So anyway, I told them before you got here, I said I’m glad we won this race in New York,’ Clinton told Ryan, when the two met backstage at a forum on the national debt held by the Pete Peterson Foundation. But he added, ‘I hope Democrats don’t use this as an excuse to do nothing.’ Ryan told Clinton he fears that now nothing will get done in Washington. ‘My guess is it’s going to sink into paralysis is what’s going to happen. And you know the math. It’s just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving,’ Ryan said. Clinton told Ryan that if he ever wanted to talk about it, he should ‘give me a call.’ Ryan said he would.”

I’m just glad Clinton didn’t begin the conversation, “What are you wearing right now?”

At Hot Air, Allahpundit hunts for the motive: “The last thing Obama, Reid, and Schumer want before the election is one of their own elder statesmen — one who’s personally popular and famous for budget-balancing, no less — pressuring them to inch out on the Medicare limb that’s cracking under Ryan. So . . . why would he do it? Could be that he’s earnestly concerned about the Medicare time bomb and appreciates Ryan’s leadership on it. Remember, before Erskine Bowles was co-chair of the Deficit Commission, he was Clinton’s White House chief of staff. Or it could be that Clinton’s worried about Democrats being perceived as debt do-nothings even though the public, for the moment at least, is with them on the specific issue of Medicare. As we saw earlier today, the more the GOP can drive home to voters that preserving the program as-is necessarily means raising the debt ceiling again and again, the more potentially vulnerable Democrats are. Or maybe Clinton doesn’t much care what the White House thinks or what it might do for the Democrats’ electoral prospects. Being an ex-president means never having to say you’re sorry. Why not let it rip? Whatever the answer, I think ’We’ve got to deal with these things. You cannot have health care devour the economy’ will make a dynamite little soundbite for attack ads next year. Get cracking on it, RNC.”

Bill Clinton gives the Republicans the perfect attack ad soundbite on the Ryan plan, just as Newt Gingrich gave Democrats their perfect one a week earlier. The two men are more psychologically similar to each other than either would like to admit.

Tags: Bill Clinton , Paul Ryan

The National Debt Was Growing, Even Before George W. Bush



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A common tactic of Obama and his defenders is to suggest that the debt and deficit were non-issues until the presidency of George W. Bush.

Obama in Annandale yesterday:

For a long time, Washington acted like deficits didn’t matter. A lot of folks promised us a free lunch. So I think everybody needs to recall, we had a surplus back in 2000, 11 short years ago, but then we cut taxes for everybody, including millionaires and billionaires. We fought two wars and we created a new and expensive prescription drug program, and we didn’t pay for any of it.

But it’s worth noting that the national debt – as in the total public debt owed – increased on Clinton’s watch, and like all recent presidents, Clinton left the country with more than a trillion dollars deeper in debt than when he began — even with the late 1990s economic boom.

According to U.S. Treasury figures at Debt to the Penny, on January 20, 1993, as Bill Clinton took office, the total outstanding public debt was $4.1 trillion. On January 19, 2001, that same figure had increased to $5.7 trillion.

As I’ve noted before, the debt during Bush’s eight years in office increased from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion, or $4.9 trillion over eight years. That’s bad; that’s basically $610 billion per year. But in the less than three years Obama has been in office, the debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.2 trillion, a $3.6 trillion increase in about 27 months.  In other words, Obama is increasing the debt by $1.6 trillion per year, three times as fast as Bush.

Bush’s record on increasing the national debt is bad and Obama’s is worse. Clinton’s record is “best,” but it’s not clear that most Americans would characterize increasing the national debt by $200 billion per year as “good.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton , George W. Bush

Bill Clinton May Watch ‘Taxi Driver’ Tonight, For Romantic Memories



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There’s talk of Nancy Pelosi snapping and more bad economic numbers in the Jolt, but we still have our romantic memories, as a former president observes:

Bill Clinton’s Misty Water-Colored Memories

I needed something lighter to finish off the week’s final Jolt. Thank you, former President Clinton!

“Former President Bill Clinton fondly remembers a “romantic” time when you could still get a prostitute in Times Square. Clinton was at a news conference in Times Square with Mayor Bloomberg on Wednesday when a reporter asked him about the formerly seedy neighborhood. Clinton said he first visited Times Square in 1964 when he was a freshman at Georgetown University. He said he saw “a hooker approach a man in a gray flannel suit.” He said it was “pretty heavy stuff for a guy from Arkansas.” Clinton said the area is cleaner and safer now — and that’s good. But he sounded like he missed the old days. ‘I still have vivid memories of it,’ he said. ‘Romantic. Fascinating. It was dangerous.’”

Vivid memories? I’ll bet. He sounds a bit like the irate cabdriver who yearned for the Travis Bickle The Bronx Is Burning days of Times Square, who blamed the boredom of late-1990s New York City on then-mayor Rudy Giuliani back on Saturday Night Live: “Friggin’ Guiliani! Can you believe what he did to 42nd Street? … You gotta be kiddin’. I’ll take porn over Disney any day! … Listen, I’ve lived in this city for forty-four years. I was born here, and I can tell ya, three things make New York great: crime, noise and porn!”

The cabdriver, of course, was played by guest host Rudy Giuliani.

“Melts your heart, doesn’t he?” asks Fausta.

Tags: Bill Clinton

Will Presidential ‘Small Ball’ Work at This Moment?



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Today Pres. Barack “Punish Our Enemies” Obama hosted a White House summit on bullying.

It reminded me of Bill Clinton’s sudden interest in promoting school uniforms after his own disastrous midterm elections. (Please, no jokes about Clinton’s long-established interest in schoolgirl uniforms.) It’s worth noting that when Bill Clinton made his school-uniform push in February 1996, the country was enjoying relative peace and prosperity. That month the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent and the economy created 700,000 jobs. The stock market was on a tear. The U.S. had no serious ongoing military conflict, though the Khobar Towers bombing and the frightening crash of TWA Flight 800 were a few months away.

In other words, I suspect voters are fine with a president playing “small ball” when there are no other major pressing problems. But unemployment is still high, the housing market is awful in most of the country, Qaddafi is crushing his opponents, our friendly regimes in the Middle East are wobbly, state capitals are going broke, and the deficit is $1.6 trillion this year. How much should the commander in chief be focused on school bullying?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Clinton

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