Bill Clinton to Continue Attacking Obama ’08 for Acting Like Clinton ’92


Patrick Healy writes in the New York Times that the Clintons feel the Bill-as-attack-dog strategy (“sphincter-like”) is working, and needs to be continued.

Advisers to Sen. Hillary Clinton have concluded that Bill Clinton’s aggressive politicking against Sen. Barack Obama is resonating with voters, and they intend to keep him on the campaign trail in a major role after the South Carolina primary.

The Clinton team has decided that the benefits of having Bill Clinton challenge Obama so forcefully, over Iraq and Obama’s record and statements, are worth the trade-offs of potentially overshadowing Hillary Clinton at times, undermining his reputation as a statesman and raising the question among voters about whether they are putting him in the White House as much as her.

Much more after the jump…

…Bill Clinton has shown as much ability as his wife — or even more — to stir public and media skepticism about Obama’s position on Iraq and his message of nonpartisan leadership, Clinton advisers say.

Bill Clinton is purposely trying to play bad cop against Obama, a senator from Illinois, and is keenly aware that a flash of anger or annoyance will draw even more media and public attention to his arguments, campaign officials say.

According to Healy, we can look forward to Bill continuing the act in California, New York, and other later primaries. E.J. Dionne explains how cynical this all is in the New Republic.

Ronald Reagan, Clinton said [in 1991], deserved credit for winning the Cold War. He praised Reagan’s “rhetoric in defense of freedom” and his role in “advancing the idea that communism could be rolled back.”… Clinton was careful to add that the Reagan military program included “a lot of wasted money and unnecessary expenditure,” but the signal had been sent: Clinton was willing to move beyond “the brain-dead politics in both parties,” as he so often put it.

His apostasy was widely noticed. The Memphis Commercial Appeal praised Clinton two days later for daring to “set himself apart from the pack of contenders for the Democratic nomination by saying something nice about Ronald Reagan.”

…I have been thinking about that episode ever since Hillary Clinton’s campaign started unloading on Barack Obama for making statements about Reagan that were, if anything, more measured than Bill Clinton’s 1991 comments… Obama’s not particularly original insight was a central premise of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Clinton argued over and over that Democrats could not win without new ideas of their own…

That’s why the Clintons’ assault on Obama is so depressing. In many ways, Obama is running the 2008 version of the 1992 Clinton campaign. You have the feeling that if Bill Clinton did not have another candidate in this contest, he’d be advising Obama and cheering him on.

Years of decrying the politics of personal destruction and now this…

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate