There are no off-hand moments, no unconsidered, spontaneous comments and no random observations in the world of Bill Clinton. His tongue is entirely at the service of his ambition, each remark considered and calculated to achieve a specific goal. And right now, Bill Clinton’s prime ambition is to elect his wife president. Nothing else really matters to him. And Bill Clinton must be feeling the same vibe we do: Obama may pull out.
So what’s he doing? Consider: He has written a book on how to “put America to work” and to heal the economy. It will come out in November, and he will tour the country to tout it and promote its proposals.
He dismissed Obama’s jobs and tax proposals — the centerpiece of his administration as it enters an election — as “confusing” and stated his conviction that we should neither cut spending nor raise taxes at this time, directly contradicting both aspects of the president’s program.
Asked if he would still like to see Hillary as president, he opines that he long ago concluded that she was “one of the brightest people of her generation” and that he has never had cause to vary that assessment.
Two of Clinton’s favorite consultants — James Carville (1992) and Mark Penn (2008) both recently dumped on Obama’s campaign and his chances of winning. Carville advised Obama to “panic and fire a lot of people.” Penn compared Clinton’s centrist policies in 1996 with Obama’s embrace of “class warfare” and said the current president should learn from the previous Democratic one. These boys don’t talk about such stuff unless they get a green light from Chappaqua.
An observer less used to Bill Clinton’s ways might be driven to wonder what’s going on here. Isn’t Clinton’s wife the first officer of Obama’s cabinet? And is not Obama the consensus nominee of the Democratic Party, battling for his political life? And does his re-election not hinge on his ability to sell his program for doing just what Clinton’s jobs book will discuss — turning the economy around?
There is only one conclusion possible to account for Clinton’s extraordinary actions this week: That he believes that Obama may not run and he wants to promote Hillary’s candidacy in the event he drops out. Or, even more boldly: That he wants to undermine Obama’s ability to get re-elected so that he is forced to pull out for the good of the Democratic Party, opening the door to Hillary’s candidacy.
It is all the more remarkable that he should be saying this stuff when you consider that he would never do so without the express approval — if not prompting — of Mrs. Clinton herself! A seasoned politician like Bill Clinton does not criticize the economic program of his wife’s boss without her OK. Nor would he have worked for months on a book about the economy or planned a tour to promote it, without privately speculating on how it might help Hillary’s presidential ambitions.
And make no mistake about it: Obama may pull out. We recently asked a top Democratic strategist who said, “if the situation in January is as bad as it is today, I think it is quite possible” that Obama will pull a Lyndon Johnson and bow out.
Perhaps Obama now appreciates what he got himself into when he named Hillary as his Secretary of State. At the time, we warned that this menage-a-trois would work only as long as Obama was popular. We said that should he encounter rough sledding, he would find the Clintons to be potential rivals in his midst.
Obama’s base is collapsing. The Bob Turner victory in New York shows Jews are leaving him. Gallup reports his job approval among Latinos is down to 44 percent and Fox News says his approval among under 30 voters is also down to 44 percent. The collapse is so sudden and rapid that nobody has time to prepare for a primary challenge, least of all Hillary. But, if Obama drops out — or is driven out by panicked Democratic Senators staring defeat in their own re-elections in the face — Bill is out there making sure Hillary is in the on-deck circle swinging her bat.
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