It Gets Readers, So Why Not: Senator Bill Clinton

| Mon Feb. 19, 2007 11:49 AM EST

"Current rank: #1 of 13,714 articles"

That's one of the first things you see when you go to this story on Examiner.com called, "Some mull idea of Sen. Bill Clinton," and it goes a long way to explaining why the story was written at all.

There are three reasons why this story would be written: (1) There is genuine interest among Democratic activists and party insiders in seeing Bill Clinton appointed to Hillary Clinton's open Senate seat should she be elected president. (2) The political campaigns are really gearing up and political reporters are looking for any angle at all in order to find new stories. (3) The story is guaranteed to get read -- a lot.

The answer is some combination of the three, of course, but one can't help but wonder if (2) and (3) are more prevalent, considering all the Democratic activists and party insiders quoted in the article are old Clinton hands. Witness:

"As a senator, he'd be a knockout... He knows issues, he loves public policy and he's a good politician." -- Harold Ickes. Ickes was deputy White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton.

"President Clinton would excel in the Senate... He excelled as attorney general and governor of Arkansas, he excelled as president and he's been a model of the modern Senate spouse." -- Paul Begala. Begala was one of the top consultants in Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and served as an aide in the White House.

"Clinton is a natural for the Senate... He loves to talk and schmooze. He could be a great vote-organizer. Majority Leader Clinton?" -- Larry Sabato. Sabato has no ties to Clinton that I can see, but he was once called "the most quoted college professor in the land" by the Wall Street Journal because of his readiness to give quotes to reporters.

There is some legitimate analysis here: as a senator Bill Clinton would have a real role to play in Washington, and as a result the Clinton-Clinton team wouldn't have to figure out Bill's "First Husband" role in the White House. Would the American people be okay with Bill meddling in Hillary's presidential business? The reverse situation was awfully touchy ten years ago; Senator Bill Clinton avoids the question.

The Examiner article doesn't mention the plain fact that Americans do not like dynastic politics, but really, that minor oversight is not the issue. The issue is that a reporter called a bunch of ardent Clinton supporters and asked about something that is likely to excite them and -- surprise! -- got the quotes he wanted. The story, in a word, feels manufactured. We'll see if it goes anywhere.

Update: Newsweek has a short article on the power dynamics of the various husband-wife teams aiming for the White House. It notes that none of the major Democrats seeking nomination have gone through divorces and all have powerful, intelligent, charismatic spouses, whereas all of the Republicans -- with the exception of Mitt Romney -- have gone through more wives than a member of the Saudi royal family.

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