Bill Clinton makes me want to tear my hair out. He often makes me want to take a shower. Hillary can’t fire him, but can someone put him under adult supervision? For many, the choice in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was determined by not wanting Bill Clinton back in the White House. In 2016, there is no way to avoid that short of voting for Donald Trump, a clearly unacceptable alternative.
Clinton (Bill, that is) is widely touted as a more effective campaigner than Hillary. He is certainly more comfortable in his own skin than she. His charisma, a kind of animal magnetism, can be compelling. If he is the featured speaker at a fundraising dinner, each of the 400 guests feels he is speaking just to him or her. His skill as a politician has been labeled historic. But where was he, ignoring the negative optics of some of the Clinton Foundation’s relationships or failing to warn her about the pitfalls of using a private email server?
The problem is that what some find his boundless roguish charm too often translates into inappropriate behavior and poor judgment. He exhibited this in 2008 and again this year. His decision to board Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s plane when their paths crossed on the tarmac of the Phoenix Airport this past week is but the most egregious example. According to a security official, the former President had actually delayed his departure when he learned Lynch was expected. His maneuver couldn’t have been more ill-advised.
Whether the decision was contrived or spur-of-the-moment, however, the appearance of two insiders chatting for half an hour when Hillary’s email conduct was under review by the FBI was revolting, “an unforced error,” as many analysts have called it. The assertion that they spoke only about grandchildren and golf for half an hour strains credulity, to say the least. The tete-a-tete calls into question the integrity of the FBI, and his tin-eared stupidity undercut what had been a successful month in Hillary’s campaign.
The former President’s action reinforces the image of Hillary Clinton as the consummate insider and, worse, that the Clintons don’t see the rules as applying to them. Hence, her historically high unfavorability rating. It hands Donald Trump a win-win situation. In the unlikely event the FBI finds evidence of a crime, Trump will benefit from Democratic Party disarray. If no criminal action is taken, Trump can claim the fix was in. And even Hillary supporters will suspect that is true. Will someone please put Bill Clinton on a short leash?
As an aside, I was appalled when Hillary, in response to a question about the role her husband would play in a Hillary Clinton administration, said “in charge of revitalizing the economy, because, you know, he knows how to do it.” Oh, great, our first woman President and she’d turn over half her portfolio to her husband. She back-pedaled later and said she wouldn’t be outsourcing responsibility to her husband, who would be charged with focusing on creative solutions for hard-hit areas, like the Rust Belt. But the damage was done, though this wound was self-inflicted.
Bill Clinton’s gaffes fuel dark speculation that he subconsciously wants to see Hillary lose so he doesn’t have to see her presidency repudiating actions taken by his administration in the 1990’s, on trade, criminal justice or Wall Street deregulation, or perhaps he doesn’t want her success to exceed his own. I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. What I do know is that someone has to stop William Jefferson Clinton from undermining Hillary’s bid for the White House by the lack of discipline that got him into trouble when he was living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as leader of the free world.
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