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Bill Clinton on the (Kinder, Gentler) Attack

A friend and I were just discussing the latest installment of When Bill Clinton Attacks. According to news reports today (which I can’t find to link), the former Pres has a new kinder, gentler press strategy that doesn’t involve tirades against his wife’s opponent, the media, or small children. Mr. View asked, as a Republican, if I thought the assertion that Bill Clinton was negatively impacting Hillary’s chances was accurate. It led to a lengthy discussion of why, exactly, it backfired.

There has been a lot of chatter about the fact that Bill Clinton is not a candidate for the Internet age. The storyline assumes that he doesn’t get the instant communication and was unprepared for the reaction and the speed with which it spread. I disagree. I think there is a good probability that the reaction had been the same if the old model still applied.

The fact is, Bill is revered by many, many Democrats in the same way Reagan was. He is seen as a larger than life figure, a hero to the little guy. If Reagan had, ten years after leaving office, popped back on the scene to savage a guy in his own party, or to throw petty charges at the media, it would have been undignified.

Obama is also seen by many as more of the heir apparent to Bill’s legacy than his wife. They see in him the same young(-ish), dynamic leader looking to rock DC and take America to a new era of greatness. They see Hillary as an opportunistic weasel looking to further capitalize on her husband’s success.

It also doesn’t help that the guy who lied to America about a BJ and dragged us into years of investigation was questioning someone else’s integrity. Hillary, as Mr. View argued, could be let off as an innocent victim of her husband’s philandering. Bill, however, has no moral high ground from which to challenge someone else.

That’s the problem Bill has. It’s not that the accusations are off about the media, it’s a matter of right message, wrong messenger.

It does, however, raise questions of what she knew and when she knew it? She wants to be seen as a candidate firmly in control of her surroundings, yet she also wants us to believe that Bill’s attack (an attack by her own husband) was completely his own doing and she had no knowledge of his intention to speak out. Frankly, I find it hard to accept that she had no idea what he was going to do. Her campaign is built on the “control and disseminate” model. They dole out information like rations to disaster victims, yet she had no idea what the man closest to her would say? I just don’t buy it.

Written by Michael Turk