h/t Balloon-juice (nice new site design).
In this video, Bill campaigns for Obama. As usual, Bill shows that no one is able to explain complicated events in a simple, clear manner as Clinton. I’ve never seen a politician do that as well as Bill. [Obama is light years away from having that skill].
The reason I posted this was to comment on the “What Does This Say About How Bill feels Obama” front. Also some of my favorite commenters and I (e.g. davidmarshall and joeperez), with whom I agree on most things, have had a friendly debate on this point. They think I’ve been a little too hard on the Clintons. So I’d like to defend some of my thinking on this point for a sec.
On the one hand I would say are those who think a speech like this disqualifies any of the opinion that the Clintons, but Bill particularly, are not full on board with Obama. On the other side are Andrew Sullivan rantings about how the Clintons will do anything than can (still in the face of this evidence) to blow up Obama.
Since I’ve set it up that way, you can tell I’m going to argue for a mediate position. As an obvious caveat, but worth saying, there is no way to know the inner mind of someone, so this is a hypothetical guess based on his public statements in the political arena. So that is all it should be taken for.
Regardless, here’s my argument. Listen to Bill. He says the reasons you should vote for Obama are: 1)he’s got a better political philosophy 2)he’s got better policy proposals (esp. on economy) 3)he has better advisors.
What you don’t hear in that is that he has the mettle. He knows your pain (a la Bill ’92). He’s one of you, will fight for you, that he has the experience to master the Executive-Legislative interplay (his argument for Hillary).
Here is what I wrote about Hillary’s convention speech back in August:
Per Crowley’s comment that Clinton did not specifically point to any aspects of Obama’s character/readiness for the office, I think the reason for that is simple: she doesn’t believe he is ready. Never has, never will I assume. She believes in the Democratic Party and its ideals as she said last night and she is voting for Obama based his adherence to those same values (not his personal attributes) and given what occurred in the primaries, that is all (and more) that could have reasonably been asked for from her.
Same with the speech from Bill. I think the reasons Bill cited are legitimate ones to vote for someone for President. Moreover, as I said with Hillary and also think with Bill, it’s good for them to make this case for Obama. Because It both is A)a strong case and B)sincerely how I think they feel.
It’s telling truth without as it were telling all the truths. In other words, I’m glad he didn’t try to make an argument beyond those points because it would have come across as lying, which would do more harm than good. [And then would definitely fairly or unfairly leave Bill open to sabotage charges]. Less on this one, is definitely much more.
One of those other truths being…I think it is fair to say that given McCain is from the same boomer political generation, comes from the same Washington circles, the Clintons know him personally (and like him), they do feel more comfortable on that kind of level with McCain than Obama.
So on the level of policy/governance they are not secretly for McCain (contra Sullivanian conspiracy thinking). But on this other harder to define, more subjective level, they are more comfortable I think with McCain. Which doesn’t mean they are awful human beings or bad Democrats. I think that is letting their personal friendship override their political judgment on occasion but that’s not a big deal really (if that’s the case). And even if it is, given how Barack has basically taken away Hillary’s chance of being president, had to run against (in part) the Clinton years, and took over the entire appartus of the Democratic Party from them in a couple of months, I can appreciate how they might have some sore feelings.
It’s just that sometimes those two sides, in certain situations, seep out in public/come into conflict and someone calls Bill out on it. Like say Chris Rock here. That’s all. It probably goads President Clinton to be a better surrogate when he the chance, so it’s all to the good in my estimation.