Required Reading

One reporter recounts what it was like behind the scenes of Hillary ’08:

All presidential campaigns are a grind, but this one was worse. A few Clinton staffers I knew suffered partial nervous or physical breakdowns after months of combat and sleep deprivation. They jumped on desks and screamed at each other. They drank too much, wept, cheated on their girlfriends, wore the same sweatpants for days at a time and ate their ice cream out of the tub. One Clinton aide was so run down by the experience it took her years to recover her health – and several other campaign veterans I interviewed for the Hillary and the media article said they had no desire for a second go.

Reporters hardly fared better. The veterans removed themselves from the road to preserve their sanity (I skipped her last campaign trip after she stubbornly refused to concede the election at a Manhattan “farewell” rally on June 3, 2008). At least one reporter was involuntarily pulled out of action by his editors for fear he was about to collapse. One of the country’s most respected political scribes took to travelling with a shoebox crammed with various over-the-counter meds because the stress and sleep deprivation was running down her immune system. By mid-campaign she was in such a daze she nearly boarded a commercial flight barefoot before realizing she’d left her shoes at the security checkpoint, one of her friends told me.

In my political lifetime, we’ve had three presidents — Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43 — who served out two full four-year terms. We’re about to have a fourth. Reagan and Clinton exited more or less as they had come in, although each had been tainted somewhat by the inevitable second-term scandal. Each left the country richer than he had found it, and both are still missed and remembered fondly.

Er… Clinton would be missed if he’d only go away.

Bush 43 left us exhausted by him and by big-government Republicanism. Obama will exit the same way — but even worse, I suspect. Bush has enjoyed something of a comeback, as he’s avoided politics and taken up painting. While he would never actually ask, “Miss me yet?” there are many who do, or who are beginning to. It’s difficult to picture Former President Obama — three such lovely words! — following Bush’s lead into a pleasant retirement. Obama’s was brought up in a has prospered from the basest (albeit electronically enhanced) sort of agitprop, and I doubt he could ever give it up.

But if Hillary’s 2008 campaign is any indication, Clinton 45 might prove to be our most exhausting and unpleasant president yet.