Friday, June 6, 2008

Born With A Target On His Back

"According to the lucky-bastard theory, no ordinary candidate could recover from Gennifer Flowers' revelation of an adulterous affair just before the New Hampshire primary. Clinton did. No ordinary candidate could expect to win a general-election contest against a commander in chief who'd just led the nation to swift victory in a war in which fewer than 400 American soldiers were killed. Clinton did. No ordinary incumbent could win re-election against a politically moderate war hero after suffering midterm congressional losses of historic proportions and seeing his No. 1 legislative priority (health care reform) go down in flames. Clinton did. No ordinary incumbent could survive impeachment over a sex scandal in which he lied under oath and, to all appearances, obstructed justice. Clinton did. No former president could amass a record like this and yet be respected for his policy achievements. Clinton is. These examples all testify in part to Clinton's remarkable political skills—two Clinton biographies were titled The Natural and The Survivor—but being blessed with remarkable skills is a matter of luck, too."

"At the moment, the general feeling is that Clinton's luck has run out. Where once Clinton seemed a master of political communication, he's come off on the campaign trail for his wife as blustery and undisciplined. Where once he was viewed as a genius at political strategy, he's now a key architect—how much of an architect we don't know, but his role can't have been small—of a primary race that in retrospect seems laughably inept. In the July
Vanity Fair, Todd Purdum, a former White House correspondent for the New York Times, criticizes Clinton for keeping sleazy company and quotes unnamed Clinton friends suggesting the man has been angry and weird ever since his heart surgery in 2004. Clinton's response to this allegation—he called Purdum a "scumbag" and issued a tendentious 2,500-word rebuttal—was … angry and weird. On top of all that, even Hillary Clinton seems finally to realize that she has lost the nomination to Barack Obama. She may even have blown her chances of becoming Obama's running mate. The husband-wife world-domination plan lies in tatters. Has the comeback kid's luck finally run out?"

"Actually, no. The brutal truth is that a Hillary Clinton presidency was never going to be pleasant for Bill Clinton. He's dodged the bullet yet again."

-- Timothy Noah, covering Bubba's slippery nature, for Slate Magazine

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