Bill and Hillary: Driving the Left into a Ditch?
Within a few days former Clinton political consultant Paul Begala wrote an article for the Huffington Post that urged Democrats: "Pass the Senate Bill, Please." It was a challenge. Man up, you wussies.
You're going to get the attack anyway, you may as well get the accomplishment. I don't mean to be rude, but if health care is the kiss of death, you've already been kissed.
On that very same day the Financial Times carried an editorial by James Carville, chief political strategist for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. He advised Democrats to just blame George W. Bush for all of their problems.
Democrats would not be playing the blame game with one another for the loss or for the health care debacle if they had only pointed fingers at those (or in this case, the one) who put Americans (and most of the world) in the predicament we’re in: George W. Bush.
Blaming Bush is just what President Barack Obama has been doing for his entire first year in office, and it isn’t working anymore. While paying lip service to bipartisanship, Obama has restated his promise to keep pushing his own brand of health care reform -- opposite of what Bill Clinton himself had done.
Bill Clinton has been engaged in the kind of politicking that would have been considered unseemly not so long ago. Former presidents just don't do politics after serving two terms in the White House, but Bill Clinton is not like other former two-term presidents. It’s still possible, though not necessarily probable, that he could be back for another two terms at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this time as first gentleman to the first woman president of the United States.
In the Clinton strategy for getting there, three elements emerge. First is to attack the left. Lanny Davis launched the first wave, blaming the left for Martha Coakley's defeat in Massachusetts and calling for the more centrist New Democrats to save the party.
The second element of the strategy is to goad the leading leftist Democrats into ramming their policies down American throats. Bill Clinton, Paul Begala, and a host of others are pressuring Obama, Reid, and Pelosi to keep pushing that health care legislation, and don't worry that the majority of voters oppose it. Those tea party Americans are too dumb to know what's in their own best interest, and it's up to the left to impose it on them.
The third piece is Carville’s finger of blame. After more than a year listening to Obama blaming George W. Bush for all of America's problems, the message is losing its potency. It’s just another way for the left to insist that it bears no responsibility for anything ever. The laser-like focus on avoiding their own blame for past problems convinces more and more people that Democrats haven't the slightest clue and even less interest in really solving problems. Instead, any legislation to make its way through this leftist dominated Congress is designed first and foremost to strengthen their grip on power.
If Democrat leaders diligently follow the Clinton team prescription, by the time November 2010 rolls around they will be intensely unpopular. The tea party faithful will be incensed and motivated, and the left can expect to get an historic shellacking on Election Day.
But Hillary will have no connection to that defeat. She stands ready to step in as that New Democrat Lanny Davis is looking for. By opposing the far left of her party she might even tap into tea party outrage at the leftist assault on our liberties, our health care, and our free market economy. She could offer herself to tea party independents as the New Democrat alternative to a return to Republican rule.
Hillary Clinton will be running for president. A challenge to Obama in 2012 is not outside the realm of possibility, but it would be very risky. Failing to win the nomination in 2012 would most likely kill her chances for a run at it in 2016. She’ll do it only if Obama's poll numbers continue to slide.
The Clinton team is helping those numbers along.