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Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have a really 'great conversation'

Well, in the end it turned out to be really pretty easy to get ex-President Clinton to make specific plans to go out on the presidential trail and campaign for the rookie Illinois senator.

That's Sen. Barack Obama, the fellow who said such nasty things about Clinton's wife during the hard-fought primary season (not that she didn't reciprocate), who stole her rightful White House inheritance with his hurried ambitions and better-organized campaign, whose people haven't really done all that much to help Hillary retire her large campaign debt and whose supporters tattooed the word "racist" indelibly into the infallible memory of the ex-ArkansasEx-president Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama meet for lunch Thursday in Harlem and have a really good conversation, aides said governor who still fondly regards himself as the country's first black president, despite his Jesse Jackson insinuations down in South Carolina.

All Obama had to do to get Clinton's cooperation was:

  • Have the image of his joyous Denver stadium celebration snuffed within nine hours by the sudden emergence of a stunning female Republican vice presidential pick after Obama pointedly passed over the obvious female VP candidate in his party for a veteran male Washington insider as his co-agent of change.
  • Not enjoy much if any poll bounce from the Denver festivities.
  • Watch the Republicans turn Hurricane Gustav into a plus by burying George W. Bush's convention appearance and stressing national service.
  • Witness an electrifying speech by this nobody from ....

... Alaska who not only energized her party but ignited a nonstop curiosity among millions that drove way better TV ratings for the GOP than the Democrats.

  • Confront a 21-day, 20-point swing among white women away from himself toward the old guy with his tough-talking running mate in the businesslike skirt and top, rimless glasses and with the large family.
  • Start hearing worried grumbles and hand-wringing among party members around the country about toughness and "here we go again" turning a summertime Democratic lead into a November loss.
  • As the new titular head of the Democratic party, walk on his knees up to Clinton's Harlem office building to have lunch. The ex-president knows how badly he's needed right now.

As The Ticket reported Thursday, Clinton, meeting reporters beforehand, predicted that Obama would win "pretty handily," which not only sets the bar higher for Obama but contradicts the senator's own prediction of a close contest. (See video below with Obama largely silent but then obviously, shall we say, overly-praising Clinton, who clearly likes that.)

Clinton also promised to do anything he's asked to help. Isn't this about the ninth time he's said that, and now we're down to eight weeks and in a couple more Clinton will head to Florida, which makes it almost October.

Ex-president Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama chat for the cameras in Harlem Thursday

Here's the actual official verbatim statement issued Thursday by the two men. You can just picture the negotiations over each phrase.

Clinton and Obama are such really good friends that they wouldn't put their names on the statement, just an awkward title about aides:

"Joint statement from spokesmen to former President Bill Clinton and Senator Barack Obama

“President Clinton and Senator Obama had a great conversation in Harlem today. They discussed the campaign briefly, but mostly talked about how the world has changed since September 11, 2001.

"Sen. Obama praised the work of the Clinton Foundation around the world and President Clinton applauded Sen. Obama's historic campaign, which has inspired millions around the country.

"They also spoke about what the next president can do to help make the economy work for all Americans, as it did under President Clinton, and ensure safety and prosperity far beyond the coming the election. President Clinton said he looks forward to campaigning for Senator Obama later this month.”

Well, that all sounds like a delightful lunch, doesn't it? (UPDATE: Unfortunately, Obama and one of his aides caught the stomach flu at some point before, during or after the lunch.)

And it's so totally likely that with 50-whatever days left before a national election, these two consummate politicians would skip over that subject almost totally to reminisce about the last seven years. How 'bout those BoSox, eh?

Things went so well at the Clinton-Obama summit, in fact, that the two men didn't feel the need to shake hands in public. No one saw that anyway.

That's a good sign for the rest of the campaign, don't you think?

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo credits: Associated Press

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Comments () | Archives (15)

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For me, Obama or McCain are the same. the are supporter of Zionist. Therefore, whoever will become the next US president will not beneficial for muslim countries, especially for the resolving of Israel-Palestine conflict.

Obama points out once again his lack of experience for the job of President. First he needed Hagel for foreign policy, then he chose Biden the father of all Washington Insiders, and now Bill Clinton for the economy. Everything in his background from his dysfunctional family upbringing to his very questionable friends, mentors, and associations up to the last few months should be red flag warnings. This along with his total lack of experence makes him unqualified to be Commander in Chief of the United States.

Andrew, dude. How about just one blog entry that isn't so snarky? It takes less than one line of reading your babble to know it's you.

Does the times really pay you for this....?

WJC campaigning for BHO. Did anyone see pigs flying (with or without lipstick)?

The Clintons are sore losers! Both Hillary and Bill need to do more to get Obama in the white house. They talk to the talk but are hardly doing anything.

How Obama handles this challenge will define his mark as a leader. If he marshalls his considerable intellect and gifts for inspiration he can meet the re-packaged forces of reaction. But he needs to avoid talking about the package and talk about the forces--lost jobs, rising foreclosures, still no exit stategy for the war,the failure of schools, the crumbing infrastructure, the absence of healthcare--the problems that can't be solved with cute phrases--or the absence of plans.

Come on guys. Place egos aside, stop the political posturing and symbolism, and put your heads together to get our country back on track. Please.

Just one question: were you depicting the Clintons as the Saviors of America back when Bill was president? Didn't think so.

This article is so filled with your idle speculation and so light on the facts that it is almost ridiculous.

I hope Mr. Obama was asking Mr. Clinton about his role is the largest genocide of modern times Ruwanda. How a man or women of color can stand with a person like him estounds me? It really shows how shallow a potential leader he will be.

You forget one small detail. After Sen. Obama left, former president Clinton said to his aids: That loser (Obama) should get off my back.

Who cares? ? ? The only way that they even got together and talked....was because Billy-Boy wants the DNC to pay for Billary's DEBT! ! ! And the next trick will be when Biden announces that 'for medical reasons' he has to 'pass over the torch of the Vice-Presidency to Billary'! ! ! This way the DNC can 'legitimately' let her be the VP-Pick! ! ! Do the Democrats REALLY THINK THAT AMERICANS ARE STUPID? ? ? Biden got only 8,000 votes and Billary got 18,000,000.....and now the Democrats realize that BILLARY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE 'PRESIDENTIAL' NOMINEE...because OBAMA'S 'JUST NOPT GOING TO WIN'! ! !

What they didn't show was after Obama left, Clinton dusting both his shoulders off with his fingers... just like Obama did with Hillary.

The Clintons owe Obama NOTHING!!!

Obama looked so pathetic standing next to Bill Clinton, like an eager student seeking kudos from a teacher, so the teacher can tell everyone "how well he's doing". All Obama was missing was a backpack and a lunchbox in his hand. I loved the "less-than-enthusiastic" expression on Bill Clinton's face. How funny that in the 12th hour, Obama is in desperate need of the very people he felt he didn't need at ALL to get elected. What a suck-up. Did anybody notice Obama's tail between his legs in the pictures?? I did.

Say what? How about Barack Obama being a totally ineffectual nominee. This wimp-bag told everyone that he was the big thing, that he could win in the general when anyone with a single working brain cell knew that his "hope, change, hope, change" mantra would place him soundly in the running to be EATEN ALIVE by the Republicans. Hillary lost the primaries, but she would have won the general and, sorry butt-munch, but you just can't get around that fact.

He's a wimp. He can't attack anyone to save his life or he won't be "changing the tone." Well, news flash, Barry, but you have to WIN before you can change the tone. And then his whack-job supporters always go out on a limb with the most retarded attacks they can muster. "Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor." Come on, are you kidding me? Why Obama hasn't FIRED these people yet, I have no idea. They're total incompetents. Why do the Democrats always bring a knife to a gun fight and a howitzer to a game of duck-duck-goose?

But don't blame Clinton if he loses. Bill and Hillary can't make this guy any more attractive as a candidate than he is. He's the quarter-back, he has to convert on 4th down. Obama has to win this thing on his own merits. His general election strategy has been a joke. He NEEDS Bill and Hillary Clinton to strategize him out of this mess or he'll be just another footnote that's handed the election to the Republicans in a year where, if we would have had the BEST EQUIPPED candidate to win the general, we would have taken it. Obama still has a chance to turn it around, but, unless he kicks David Axelrod squarely in the ass -- it's unforgivable that Axelrod was so unprepared for the eventuality of Sarah Palin -- and listens to EVERYTHING CLINTON SAYS FROM HERE OUT, he's going to lose and it's going to be a blood-bath.

People with brains know who the REAL Democratic Big Dog is and, frankly, when this is all over, if Obama screws this up for the Dems in a year where we obviously could have won with an effective candidate, I'm all for purging the loonie lefties from the party and leaving them to swing in the wind, either that or taking those 18 million voters and starting a center left party with some balls.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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