Ed Driscoll

Bill and Hillary Versus The Amateur

As you may already know, The Amateur, Edward Klein’s great new book, gets its title from this exchange involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, debating in August of last year in Chappaqua, New York, whether or not Hillary should run against Obama:

Bill and Hillary were going at it again, fighting tooth and nail over their favorite subject: themselves.

It was a warm summer Sunday—a full year away from the 2012 Democratic National Convention—and Bill Clinton was urging Hillary to think the unthinkable. He wanted her to challenge Barack Obama for their party’s presidential nomination. No American politician had attempted to usurp a sitting president of his own party since Ted Kennedy failed to unseat Jimmy Carter more than thirty years before.

“Why risk everything now?” Hillary demanded to know.

“Because,” Bill replied, “the country needs you!”

* * * * * * * *

“I’m the highest-ranking member in Obama’s cabinet,” she pointed out. “I eat breakfast with the guy every Thursday morning. What about loyalty, Bill? What about loyalty?” “Loyalty is a joke,” Bill said. “Loyalty doesn’t exist in politics. There’s no such word in the political rulebook. I’ve had two successors since I left the White House—Bush and Obama—and I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama. I have no relationship with the president—none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s… he’s… ”

Bill’s voice was growing hoarse—he was speaking in a rough whisper—but he looked as though he could go on forever bashing Obama. And then, all at once and without warning, he stopped cold.

He bit his lower lip and scanned the faces in the room. He was plainly gratified to see that his audience was spellbound. They were waiting for the politician par excellence to deliver his final judgment on the forty-fourth president of the United States.

“Barack Obama,” said Bill Clinton, “is an amateur!”

Right now, Bill Clinton’s legacy is unique (well, besides being the only president impeached in the 20th century) in that he’s the first Democratic president to serve out a full second term since FDR. Truman’s time in office consisted of serving out the remainder of Roosevelt’s last term, followed by a first term of his own; he could have run again for office in ’52 had he not squandered his reputation in the interim years. (Going full Godwin on Thomas Dewey didn’t help matters.) JFK’s first term was tragically cut short, LBJ chose not to run again, Carter wasn’t reelected. Given the bad blood that exists between Bill and Barry, think the former and his elephantine ego is all that keen on the latter getting reelected? Which helps to explain “Bubba’s Hot Mic Moment,” as captured by the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday:

Former president Bill Clinton told attendees at the Peter G. Peterson Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., today that President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the rich will not be enough to close the deficit and that middle-class taxes may also have to be raised.

“This is just me now, I’m not speaking for the White House—I think you could tax me at 100 percent and you wouldn’t balance the budget,” Clinton said, according to Politico’s account. “We are all going to have to contribute to this, and if middle class people’s wages were going up again, and we had some growth to the economy, I don’t think they would object to going back to tax rates when I was president.”

Clinton’s comments are sure to provoke a response from Republicans who argue that President Obama may increase taxes for all or even propose a value-added tax in a more flexible second term.

Similarly, this moment from Hillary, captured by CNS News the following day in a story titled “Hillary: ‘Government Cannot and Should Not Control Any Individual’s Life,’” is also a dual-edged sword of a statement:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told an assemblage of human rights and “civil society” activists gathered at the State Department Wednesday that “government cannot and should not” control the lives of individuals.

“(T)o make the case for civil society is really quite simple because government cannot and should not control any individual’s life – tell you what to do, what not to do,” Clinton said, taking part in a “Global Dialogue of Civil Society.”

That seems like quite a change from the woman behind her namesake HillaryCare, who once said, “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” Her statement this week, coupled with her husband does seem curious in light of their dissatisfaction — shared by seemingly just about all but the Professional Left, as Robert Gibbs* would say — with The Amateur.

* Who would also grow increasingly exasperated by the Amateur-Hour atmosphere in the Obama White House by the end of his tenure there, according to Klein.