LOOK WHO'S HERE TO HELP THE LESS POPULAR DEMOCRAT SELL TAX CUTS
During the holiday season, as in years past, The Ticket is republishing some of our favorite items from the previous political year. This story was originally published on Dec. 13, 2010:
During the last year or so former President Bill Clinton has become the Norm Abram of politics, traveling around the country from this old house to that old house, helping restore some political candidacies, launch others and doing what he loves doing best -- campaigning.
In the end Clinton's campaign assistance, repairs and political errands for Barack Obama didn't always succeed: Think Joe Sestak, Blanche Lincoln, Kendrick Meek, et al. In fact, Sarah Palin, another former governor, did better. But she didn't have the onerous burden of being a Democrat in a year when even some of George W. Bush's favorable poll ratings crept above Obama's, if you can believe such a thing after less than two years of failed economic policies.
Nonetheless, all the exposure combined with a decade's distance from his own White House problems, helped launch Clinton's recent poll approval into the 60's, way above both of his successors. Something about his strong economy and seemingly peaceful 2,922 White House days, pre-9/11.
So, it wasn't surprising Friday when Obama, who's enduring a political revolt among his own party in Congress and perhaps beyond, invited Dr. Clinton to make a political house call. What was surprising was, after their private talk, Obama appearing in the Briefing Room with Clinton in tow. Ill-advised.
You know what actors say about going onstage with children or dogs: Don't ever do it. Same goes for troubled ex-state senators walking to a podium next to an old pro like Clinton, clearly relishing his time back in the big house.
Remember back in the summer of 2008 the unsourced Obama camp leaks about why he couldn't possibly pick Hillary Clinton as his VP partner, revolving mainly on concerns that her hubby would hang around the White House like a spare president, messing things up? Obama clearly forgot his own leaks.
After a brief introduction (see full transcript below) Obama turned the microphone over to Clinton, expecting an endorsement of his embattled tax cut deal with Republicans. Obama got that sure enough. But he got so much more.
Clinton simply took over the place with his powerful presence, sucking out all the oxygen. And he began talking. And talking. And talking. Obama had said he might leave and let the former president take a question or two. Clinton sure did. And he talked. And talked.
After what seemed like a very uncomfortable hour but wasn't, Obama tired of standing there like an irrelevant visitor in his own house. He fled, citing being tardy to join his wife; you know the Obamas and their parties. Clinton skipped not a beat. It was a fascinating moment, unless you're the Obama aide who suggested your boss go onstage with the no longer has-been and allow a non-fortuitous comparison.
To help Ticket readers grasp the full comedic context we have thoughtfully provided hypothetical photo captions to chronicle the event.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Remarks by Presidents Clinton and Obama, as provided by the White House
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hey, everybody. I thought it was a slow day, so I’ve --
Q Slow news day, huh?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: -- bring the other guy in. Obviously, there’s a big debate going on about taxes, and about the need to grow the economy and to create jobs. And just about every day this week, I’ve been making an argument as to why the agreement that we’ve struck to provide billions of dollars in payroll tax cuts that can immediately help rejuvenate the economy, as well as tax cuts for middle-class families, unemployment insurance for folks who desperately need it, credits for college, Child Tax Credits, as well as a range of business investments credits are so important to make sure that we keep this recovery moving.
I just had a terrific meeting with the former President, President Bill Clinton. And we just happened to have this as a topic of conversation. And I thought, given the fact that he presided over as good an economy as we’ve seen in our lifetimes, that it might be useful for him to share some of his thoughts.
I’m going to let him speak very briefly. And then I’ve actually got to go over and....
BILL'S BACK AND AGREED TO SAY A FEW WORDS
....do some -- just one more Christmas party. So he may decide he wants to take some questions, but I want to make sure that you guys hear it from him directly.
FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President. First of all, I feel awkward being here, and now you’re going to leave me all by myself. (Laughter.) Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, I still spend....