Friday, June 27, 2008

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Today Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will make a show of unity in, of all places, Unity, New Hampshire -- a McCain-loving swing state -- where, symbolically, both received 107 votes in the hard-fought Democratic Primary. Absent from the event will be Bill Clinton, the former President of these United States.

He was, and in many ways still is, the biggest cat in the jungle.

Clinton is famous, for example, of being up to an hour late -- and sometimes more -- to events. Bill Clinton Time (tm), if you will. William Jefferson Clinton is the ebullient alpha male with a boyish Southern charm that offsets the off-puttingness of the steely will that took him from a modest childhood in Arkansas to the White House and, quite possibly, the Secretary Generalship of the United Nations before his extraordinarily productive career is done.

Bill Clinton put his enormous legacy on the line for his wife's campaign for the Presidency. The image of Bill Clinton campaigning for the North Carolina "Bubba vote" on the back of a 1941 pick-up truck will endure. And the Clintons almost, to their credit, pulled off the nomination. Unfortunately for them it was a change election and History, alas, thwarted their efforts. So it is not surprising that this alpha, not accustomed to losing on big gambles, is still fairly bristling at having his Legacy questioned and his Position at the top of the party firmament now occupied by the man who might be "The First Black President."

There is the story today, for example, by those intrepid Page Sixxies that the former President still hasn't forgiven Oprah for endorsing Senatopr Obama. "There was a very cold reception between them ... Oprah and Bill, who used to be very close, barely acknowledged one another," the source said. And from Politico's excellent Ben Smith:

"Finding a role for her husband is a slightly trickier endeavor. For one thing, he appears to be engaged in a bit of a standoff with the nominee: The two men haven’t spoken on the telephone, aides to both said, since Obama clinched the nomination, although as the last Democratic president and one of the party’s preeminent minds, Bill Clinton would be an obvious call.

"But any sense of personal pique masks a substantive argument that weighs against including the former president. During the primary, Obama repeated over and over the need to 'turn the page' on decades of political division – decades which pointedly included the 1990s, regarded by Clinton’s camp as a golden era of peace and prosperity.

"Obama at times attacked more directly. In one mailing shortly before the Super Tuesday primaries February 5, Obama summed up the political impact of the Clinton presidency.

"'8 years of the Clintons, major losses for Democrats across the nation,' the mailing said.

"Bill Clinton, by contrast, argued internally that his wife should rest her campaign in large part on his accomplishments and on nostalgia for the 1990s.

"He spent much of his time on the campaign trail defending his legacy against the charge that, as he put it last summer in Iowa, the Clintons 'are sort of yesterday’s news.'

"'Well, yesterday’s news was pretty good,' he told his Iowa audience.

Come on, guys: Hug it out already. There is enough love in the hearts of the citizens of this country for both The Obama's of Illinois and The Clinton's of New York by way of Hope. More here.

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