January 24, 2008
The great tag team two-on-one championship!
William Greider is a leftie journalist who writes for The Nation, and he recalls vintage Clinton tactics in a piece titled "Slick Willie Rides Again." While they're not yet back in the White House, their tactics are already make him "queasy":
The recent roughing-up of Barack Obama was in the trademark style of the Clinton years in the White House. High-minded and self-important on the surface, smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard to the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four more years. The thought makes me queasy.I'm on the opposite side of the fence from Mr. Greider, but it makes me queasy too.
The worst aspect about Bill Clinton's role in this is that he is running for president. It is no exaggeration to say that he is virtually campaigning for the presidency again. From the perspective of Barack Obama (who has completely lost whatever chance he might have had to stop them, IMO), this forces him to do two things:
1. He has to run against two opponents, one of whom is largely unaccountable.
2. The latter happens to be a very popular former president with the power to draw crowds and headlines wherever he goes, the power of a virtual incumbency behind him, and with absolutely zero sense of shame or dignity.
Needless to say (as the ill-fated Republican candidate will soon discover) the Clintons will have perfected this double campaign/incumbency technique, and I think they'll be an unbeatable combination. That this never would never have happened in the days of the unwritten rule that former presidents should minimize crass displays of partisan politics and behave with a sense of dignity and decorum is irrelevant. No one has the moral authority to call the Clintons on their primary offense.
Bill Clinton is campaigning for the presidency again.
I said no one has the "moral authority" because his is a moral offense, and not a technical, legal offense. The 22nd Amendment merely prohibits being "elected to the office office of the President more than twice." This means that Bill Clinton can legally campaign for the presidency; he just can't be elected to it. The authors of the Amendment never envisioned that blatantly Peronist tactics would come to their enlightened democracy so soon. (And just wait for the new improved Peronist Homeland Security!)
Analyzing the mechanics of their one-two style, Greider analogizes them to low-life street fighters:
The one-two style of Clintons, however, is as informative as low-life street fighters. Mr. Bill punches Obama in the kidney and from the rear. When Obama whirls around to strike back, there stands Mrs. Clinton, looking like a prim Sunday School teacher and citing goody-goody lessons she learned from her 135 years in government.Have to admit, it's as effective as it is brilliant. Obama is already toast, and the Republicans were toast even before the Clintons finished off Obama. Obama's good but no one can beat two superb opponents at once.
In fighting terms, he's no punching bag, for he's done very well, and forced his more experienced opponents to hone and sharpen their fighting skills. I'm almost tempted to say that Obama reminds me of Jerry Quarry, a tough fighter who never became champion but had to be beaten by the guys on their way up, but that's not a fair comparison, as boxing is a fair, one-on-one sport. In boxing terms, what's happening here is almost grotesque. Bill Clinton is like a veteran champion returning to reclaim his belt, but who, through a perversion of the rules, is allowed to fight tag-team style, climbing in and out of the ring at will -- so long as the "title" is officially held by his "partner."
(But we all know who really won it, don't we? Fair and square be damned!)
Alas, politics is not boxing.
Noting Bill Clinton's megalomania, Greider continues:
The style is very familiar to official Washington, not just among the Clintons' partisan adversaries, but among their supporters. The man lied to his friends. All the time. They got used to it. They came expect it. I observe a good many old hands among the Senate Democrats are getting behind Obama. It would be good to know more about why they declined to make the more obvious choice of endorsing the power couple.While it's reassuring to see Greider (and so many political insiders) pointing out that what's happening is not fair, I think they'll end up getting behind the winner(s). And the champion(s).
Greider concludes with a rhetorical question.
Evidently, many of the mainstream party faithful want the Clinton team as their presidential nominee. It's their choice, of course. But does the rest of the country really deserve this?At this point I'm less concerned with whether the country deserves the Clintons than whether the Clintons deserve to regain the White House by such fundamentally unfair, fundamentally immoral tactics.
Morality aside, I think the tag team approach is a great way to defeat not only all comers, but the intent of the 22nd Amendment.
This is starting to sound downright maudlin, so I'll spare the readers all that "support, protect, and defend," oath-of-office crap.
I did get a chuckle out of the "SHAME ON YOU" remark, though...
He has that?
posted by Eric on 01.24.08 at 10:59 AM
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