creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Joe Conason
Joe Conason
17 Jul 2014
Border Crisis Tests Religious Faith -- and Some Fail Badly

Flamboyant piety has long been fashionable on the political right, where activists, commentators and elected … Read More.

14 Jul 2014
Borderline Behavior: GOP Demands Action, Blocks Solutions -- and Always Complains

Listening to Republicans in Washington (and Texas and Arizona) scream about the "crisis" of migrant children … Read More.

7 Jul 2014
On July 4, a Message for Patriots of all Persuasions

When the flags fly proudly on the Fourth of July, I remember what my late father taught me about love of country.… Read More.

Where's the ‘Beef'? Clinton's Answer to Romney Snark

Comment

For Mitt Romney, the president's greatest vulnerability seems to be that Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton — and he is seeking to exploit that perception in his public speeches attacking the incumbent. On Tuesday, the presumptive GOP nominee drew the contrast for an audience in Iowa, harking back to a famous Clinton speech in 1996.

"Almost a generation ago," said Romney, "Bill Clinton announced that the era of big government was over. Even a former George McGovern campaign worker, like President Clinton, was signaling to his own party that Democrats should no longer try to govern by proposing a new program for every problem. President Obama tucked away the Clinton doctrine in his large drawer of discarded ideas, along with transparency and bipartisanship."

It was boilerplate Republican rhetoric — and didn't accurately reflect Clinton's record or views. He has spoken out strongly against austerity in recent months and wrote a book last year calling for more and smarter public investment that sharply criticized the tea party anti-government ideologues to whom Republicans like Romney constantly pander.

But then Romney took the snark a bit further, as Nia-Malika Henderson noted in The Washington Post, when he insinuated that the president is still feuding with his Democratic predecessor.

"It's enough to make you wonder if maybe it was a personal beef with the Clintons," said Romney. "Probably, it runs much deeper than that."

So far Clinton hasn't taken this bait, declining to respond directly even as he campaigns around the country in selected Democratic primaries. But a spokesman indicated that anyone wishing to understand the former president's attitude toward Obama — and Romney — might consult a speech he delivered more recently than 1996. Specifically, his remarks at an April 29 fundraiser for Obama hosted by close Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe at the former Democratic Party chair's home in McLean, Va., where he left no space for misinterpretation about his opinion of the man standing next to him:

"When you become president, your job is to explain where we are, say where you think we should go, have a strategy to get there and execute it," he began.

"By that standard, Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected president of the United States. And I'm going to tell you the only reason we're even meeting here. I mean, this is crazy — he's got an opponent who basically wants to do what they did before, on steroids (laughter) — which will get you the same consequences you got before, on steroids (more laughter)."

Clinton went on to endorse Obama's "forward-looking" plans for economic renewal, first outlined in the presidential campaign four years ago, which were derailed by the financial crash in September 2008, "only seven weeks before the election." Historically, such collapses, noted Clinton, leave nations unable to achieve full economic recovery and job growth for as long as a decade — so "he's beating the clock, not behind it."

A few moments later, Obama replied by lauding Clinton's "remarkable record" as president — and especially his ability to persuade Democrats, "at a time when, let's face it, the Democratic Party was a little bit lost," to "refocus not on ideology, not on abstractions ... but on where people live, what they're going through day to day."

Whatever frictions were generated in 2008 by the bitter primary contest between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both she and her husband set them aside soon afterward to work hard electing Obama and then seeking to help him in every possible way.

Since leaving the White House, Bill Clinton has done his best to get along with Republicans as well as Democrats, in the interest of advancing his own broad goals for improving global health, reducing poverty and preserving a livable planet, among other things. But if he has a "beef" with anybody in this election year, that person assuredly is not Barack Obama.

Joe Conason is the editor in chief of NationalMemo.com. To find out more about Joe Conason, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Joe Conason
Jul. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Ben Shapiro
Ben ShapiroUpdated 23 Jul 2014
Betsy McCaughey
Betsy McCaugheyUpdated 23 Jul 2014
Michelle Malkin
Michelle MalkinUpdated 23 Jul 2014

17 Jan 2013 Before Default, Let Republicans Bump Up Hard Against The Debt Ceiling

8 Apr 2011 Ryan's Plan Neither Serious Nor Courageous

16 Apr 2009 Obama's Cup of Tea