Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bill Clinton Unbound

Bill Clinton's comment that Hillary would be sending himself, Bush 41, and others around the world to repair the damage from W's presidency was a bonehead mistake. How many Democrats really wanted to hear about Hillary using anybody named Bush to help out her presidency? Likewise, how many Democrats really want to see a Democratic presidency "reaching out" to the other side like it was 1995 all over again. Hillary Clinton has left the 90's, but I'm wondering if that's really the case with Bill Clinton.

Much as I support Hillary's candidacy, I seriously doubt that this will be the last dumb mistake on Bill's part. The underlying problem is that Bill Clinton doesn't seem to be subject to much discipline while on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton's self-discipline problems are well-known, but he was subject to a variety of external disciplines while in the White House. There was the general surveillance of a President and the message discipline that applied to the whole administration. There was also the generally collaboative process of deciding policy and deciding how it would be promoted. Whether it was the famous late-night seminars or the circulation of ideas among senior staff outlined by Dick Morris in Behind the Oval Office, Bill could propose any number of non-starters and watch them all get shot down before he came up with something that really worked.

But it doesn't look like Bill Clinton is subject to that kind of critical give and take while out on the campaign trail as a Hillary surrogate. Because he doesn't have people with the stature of Leon Panetta around him, Bill seems to think he can say anything that comes to his head.

And that is a very bad idea for Hillary Clinton's campaign.

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