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A month in, 2-termer Bill Clinton has some advice for rookie Obama

February 20, 2009 |  4:44 am

Not that anyone recalls President Obama asking, but ex-President Bill Clinton has some advice for his fellow Democrat in the White House this morning:

Tone down the economic despondency talk some and ratchet up the optimism a bit. All gloom and doom could worsen the situation. Scare people.

"I just want the American people to know that he's confident that we are gonna get out of this and that he feels good about the long run," Clinton tells ABC's Chris Cuomo on "Good Morning America" today.

Fellow Democrats ex-president Bill Clinton and then-Senator Barack Obama during the recent presidential campaign

Although former Vice President Dick Cheney has weighed in with worries about the new administration's direction in some national security areas, the other living former presidents -- Bush I, Bush II and Carter I -- have remained silent on the critiquing sidelines.

As our colleague, Mark Silva, reports in the Swamp, last night in another interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, Clinton said, "I can't criticize him for getting out of Washington once a week."

Clinton likes the fact that Obama "didn't come in and give us a bunch of happy talk. I'm glad he shot straight with us."

But the only Democrat to win two White House elections since FDR sees the recession as a great opportunity to teach Americans.

"I like trying to educate the American people about the dimensions and scope of this economic crisis," Clinton says on ABC. "I just would like him to end by saying that he is hopeful and that he is completely convinced we're gonna come through this."

Timely advice, indeed, as Obama speaks to a nationally televised joint session of Congress next Tuesday evening and delivers his first federal budget to Capitol Hill on Thursday. Fresh back from his day-trip to Ottawa on Thursday, Obama will devote part of this afternoon to crafting his Tuesday speech.

Clinton says Obama faces difficult domestic and foreign challenges and, although the final economic stimulus package is "a little ragged around the edges," Clinton gives the newcomer an "A" for his first month in office, "A-plus-plus" for his choice of secretary of State.

The entire Obama team -- many of whose members are ex-Clinton folks, come to think of it -- will no doubt be thrilled to get that assessment this morning.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

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