Ed Driscoll

No Wonder Bill Clinton Calls Obama an Amateur

Obama’s Clinton-inspired 1996 scenario is finished, Jonathan S. Tobin writes at Commentary:

It was painfully obvious as the controversy lingered throughout the summer that President Obama was working from Bill Clinton’s 1995 playbook when he similarly bluffed a Republican Congress into shutting down the government over a budget standoff. Though Congress’s popularity plunged, the president was disappointed in his hopes that House Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor refused to step into the Newt Gingrich clown suits he had prepared for them. Nevertheless, the White House still hoped that lingering disgust for Congress combined with an economic recovery would allow the president to win re-election in the same manner as Clinton did. But if there was any doubt about the inapplicability of the 1996 template, this year it was removed on Friday as another dismal jobs report more or less guaranteed that a summer recovery wasn’t in the cards. The bad economic news isn’t just a setback that will give the Democrats a few shaky news cycles. It is confirmation that the president’s re-election strategy has already failed.

This realization comes through in some of the accounts of the White House’s reaction to the bleak jobs report. Though the president was undaunted during his various campaign appearances and statements, even the usually pro-Obama coverage of the New York Times could not fail to note that the hopes of the president’s staff for a 1996 rerun have been crushed. Though the Democrats are still going all-out to demonize the congressional Republicans, blaming them or George W. Bush for the poor economy is a perilously weak re-election strategy for a man running on the slogan of “Forward.”

The Democratic counter-attack to the GOP carping about jobs is to accuse the opposition of rooting for a bad economy. But that is a talking point that will work just about as well for the Democrats as the Republican effort to claim critics of the Iraq war were cheering for America to lose. The problem here is that, as the Times noted, the president seems to have no viable options to change the situation other than to whine about Republicans not passing mini-stimulus bills he claims will jump-start the economy.

As the Times notes, in 1996 with the economy booming. the Republican Congress passed legislation that aided Clinton as well as bolstered their own reputation. Democrats will brand the GOP as obstructionists for not working with the president for the common good this year, but the big difference between the two situations is that Clinton co-opted Republican positions and moved to the center as he cruised to re-election. By contrast, President Obama has run to the left this year, making it impossible for the House to embrace his proposals even if they wanted to.

A surprisingly readable Yahoo article explores “Why Bill Clinton Works to Undermine Barack Obama:”

Former President Bill Clinton appears to be playing a game that is calculated to embarrass the current president, Barack Obama, whom it is reported he has despised since the 2008 campaign.

First, according to Big Government, Clinton appeared on the Piers Morgan show and slammed the Obama campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney‘s tenure as the CEO of Bain Capital. He is just the latest high-profile Democrat to so.

Then, Clinton went to Wisconsin for a get-out-the-vote effort in advance of the recall election, the Chicago Tribune reports. President Obama has studiously avoided venturing to Wisconsin, concluding as have most people that the attempt to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker is doomed to failure.

Clinton has not been so reticent. It is a win/win situation for him. If by some miracle Walker should fall, it will be seen as entirely due to Clinton’s last-minute efforts. If Walker prevails, Clinton will get kudos from big labor and other Democrats for at least trying while the president stayed away.

The new book about Obama, “The Amateur,” was recently excerpted in the New York Post. The excerpt depicts how Clinton, fuming with rage at Obama since 2008, attempted to persuade his wife, Hillary, to challenge Obama this year. The secretary of state demurred, but the account illustrates the lengths to which Clinton would go to exact revenge on the president.

As Jay Cost writes at the Weekly Standard on Artur Davis’ switch to the GOP, the far left Democrats were never really Bill Clinton’s party — but they could at least pose as successful stewards of the economy (thanks to President Reagan’s Peace Dividend, his economic reforms during the previous decade, and the GOP Congress that Clinton inadvertently ushered in) during the mid-1990s. That’s far more than Mr. Obama can do today.

Update: Welcome those readers clicking in from Doug Ross’s Director Blue blog.