President Obama’s team — heck, even Hillary Clinton’s presidential team — saw former President Bill Clinton as a problem, as unpredictable, as off his game and a potential major liability.
But as Terry McAuliffe pointed out the other night at a fundraiser for the Tomorrow’s Youth Organization which had Clinton, Cherie Blair, and Quincy Jones as headliners, Bill Clinton is the most popular politician in the United States today — and may be the most popular politician in the entire world.
Clinton pulled off a stunning comeback after being clobbered badly by Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in 1994. And Barack Obama may want to sign up for Clinton lessons from the man himself to see what he did to become a winner after losing so dramatically.
Interestingly, Bill Clinton tried to fire Rahm Emanuel from his staff about three times, according to one of his close aides at the time — but Rahm refused to go, hiding out for weeks away from the President in the Old Executive Office Building. Perhaps President Obama should have talked to the former President about Rahm before giving him control to all the keys in Obama Land.
But what happened last night was not Rahm’s fault — these were consequences of decisions made by President Obama. He had major victories during his last two years — particularly in health care, but neither his own base nor his opponents celebrated. That’s a problem for the White House.
Good thing for Obama this is a presidential system. If Obama were a prime minister, he’d be out just like Clinton would have been after 1994.
But like Clinton, Obama gets another chance — and Obama would be very smart to begin calling on some of the people he has been distant from and who could give him the smart counsel he has until now stayed away from.
Bill Clinton would top my list. George Soros would be next. Anyone notice that Soros didn’t put any muscle behind Obama’s efforts this time around? I did.
— Steve Clemons