The Corner

Another Clinton Precedent

I think it is generally recognized that Bill Clinton’s tawdry stumping and slurring were a terrible mistake. The defense — that it will focus attention on him and give Hillary a pass from the media; that he can be a bad cop to her good; that his Presidential stature wins instant TV exposure for her; that in our amnesiac society whatever damage he now does to his post-presidential legacy can be more than regained later by another eight years in the White House — doesn’t wash.

If anything, Clinton, in single-handed fashion, has exposed the facade of the modern liberal two-step: with worry in South Carolina that African-American firsters might outnumber feminist tribalists, suddenly he is complaining that people might actually vote their identity politics long encouraged to do so by the Left. Suddenly liberals are waking up from their 20-year slumber and blurting out that the shameless Clintons ‘will say and do anything…’. Suddenly there is anger that ex-Clintonites are embedded, as quasi sleeper cells, throughout the mainstream media and can hardly be fair to his (now Democratic) rival Obama. Bill Clinton accomplished that and more, and in very little time.

If he keeps it up, it is very likely that he will alienate so many moderate voters that many could hold their nose and vote for someone like John McCain in the general election. The unusual facet of this campaign is not Hillary as the first serious female presidential candidate (technically Margaret Chase Smith was a nominee at the 1964 Republican Convention), nor Obama as the first black candidate, nor the oldest candidate in John McCain, but the first time in modern memory that an ex-president has entered the fray in such repugnant fashion.

Indeed, if one collates all the present campaigners and their spouses, both Republican and Democratic, and asks — ‘Who has proven the dirtiest campaigner with the least composure?’ The universal answer would be President Clinton. If he sullied the office while president in his serial mendacity, he has managed to likewise lower the bar for ex-presidents as well — and don’t think he is done yet.

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