Archive for the ‘bill clinton’ Category

Lipstick on a Pig: Bill Clinton’s Revenge

September 10, 2008

A turning point in the primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came after Bill Clinton used the words “fairy tale” to describe Barack Obama’s rise to fame. Hillary Clinton’s campaign sputtered after that, and Bill Clinton’s reputation suffered.

Clinton always maintained that Obama’s supporters, who sensed in the comment a racial remark, had it wrong. His comment, he maintained, was directed at the story of Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq. “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen,” Clinton said. Here per Politico is

Clinton’s explanation of what he said:

“I pointed out that he had never been asked about his statement in 2004 that he didn’t know how he would have voted on the war resolution,” Bill Clinton said.

“It disproves the argument that he was always against it and everybody else was wrong and he was right.”

Now — and here is the delicious part — Barack Obama finds himself in almost the exact same position over his use of the phrase “lipstick on a pig” while talking about Sarah Palin. And, also by way of Politico’s Ben Smith, Obama’s no happier about it than his erstwhile foe was.

“See, it would be funny, but the news media decided that would be the lead story yesterday. This happens every election cycle. Every four years, this is what we do. This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about…Enough!” he said.

Kindof like Bill and Hillary Clinton felt last January.

I [Heart] Bubba

August 26, 2008

My latest in the New York Sun.

” ‘I [heart] Bubba.’

That’s the slogan that greeted delegates handed a map prepared by the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. The slogan, however, was not a reference to the nickname of President Clinton, who will speak at the Democratic National Convention tomorrow night; it was an ad for the Denver location of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant chain.

But, contrary to the ad’s message, many Democratic delegates no longer love Mr. Clinton. “His comments were devastating,” a delegate, Hellen Sims of San Jose, Calif., said, referring to Mr. Clinton’s references to race during the primary campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Many convention delegates, particularly African-Americans, still bristle at Mr. Clinton’s campaign trail faux pas, which included the use of the phrase “fairy tale” to describe Mr. Obama’s rise to prominence after delivering an anti-war speech in 2002, his reference to the candidate as a “kid,” and his comparison of Mr. Obama to Jesse Jackson.

Wearing a blue Barack Obama t-shirt, Ms. Sims said Mr. Clinton will have some work to do tomorrow night if he is to regain her allegiance. ‘I hope this convention gives him a chance to redeem himself.’

Asked what it would take, Ms. Sims said ‘some humility.’ “

Gina Gershon Calls the Press ‘Disgusting’ Over Clinton Allegation

June 9, 2008


I caught Gina Gershon on “Live with Regis and Kelly” and have to say it was bizarre.

Gershon is currently in the news as a purported Bill Clinton paramour. I’ll confess I haven’t read the Vanity Fair piece yet. And, I’m agnostic, on the rumor. But with Bill Clinton, you never know.

The thing that was so strange here was Gershon’s willingness to talk about it and then rant and rave about today’s media and the blogosphere. She just unloaded. “You can’t believe anything you read any more,” she told Kelly and Mario Lopez, subbing for Regis. “It’s disgusting.” The crowd erupted into applause.

Bill Clinton Hits Squirrel Hill JCC

April 22, 2008

Pittsburgh is unique for having the second-highest percentage of its Jewish population living within its city limits. The greatest number of those Jews live in Squirrel Hill, a graceful neighborhood of tree-lined streets, single-family homes as well as a commercial district with shops and coffee shops. I’d analogize the neighborhood to Brookline.

As I arrived at the Jewish Community Center to observe the balloting, I spotted a number of television live trucks parked alongside the building. Inside Michael Bartley, a WQED reporter, was interviewing voters for a report that was going to be fed to Lehrer News Hour.

I quickly learned that Bill Clinton had just left. The whole building, which he wasn’t permitted to enter, was buzzing about his visit.

I view the visit as an effort to solidify support among older Jewish Americans, some of whom are still put off by Barack Obama. I wouldn’t over value this because I spotted several Obama supporters at the location.

Inside I overheard several political conversations. One man did say “he speaks more like a preacher than a politician. That shows the influence Reverend Wright had on him.” But then his friend cautioned him not “to make too much of it.”


PA Primary Update: Millvale

April 21, 2008

Yesterday my reporting took me to the Western Pennsylvania community of Millvale. Millvale lies only minutes from the heart of Pittsburgh, but its distance across the Allegheny River makes this compact former industrial town feel much farther away.

The big issue in town is flooding, which has contributed to pervasive job loss. Local officials present said Senator Clinton understood the needs of a small town like this more than her opponent, Mr. Obama.

Bill Clinton showed up for a campaign event at the old St. Ann’s Church. It looks like one of the many proud old Catholic and Orthodox churches that dot this area, but is now a night club, Mr. Smalls Funhouse, owned by members of the jam band Rusted Root. The church is now a club because the area’s dwindling population has meant the consolidation of parishes.

Clinton spoke for just over ten minutes. His was a classic political stump speech. “If you’re hearing somebody say you better quit because you can’t win, it’s because they’re afraid you will win,” he said.

After the crowd poured out of the church, onlookers lined up along the hilly street adjacent to it to catch a glimpse of him leaving. He exited wearing glasses but quickly took them off when he noticed there was such a large crowd waiting. He gave them the classic Clinton, bit lip and thumbs up. Then before he got in his vehicle he crossed the street to hug 85-year-old May Mayhugh, standing out on her porch. Mayhugh who had just gotten out of the hospital.

“I have prospered under Bill Clinton, and I’ll be happy to have another Clinton in the White House,”  Millvale’s mayor, Vincent Cinski, said after Clinton had departed. 

It’s important to point out that despite the economic plight of Millvale, it has a branch of the fabulous Pittsburgh chain of diners, Pamela’s, famous for the breakfast and pancakes. But due to the observance of Passover, I have no report on this PA food find today.


Hillary Clinton Ad: Haven’t I Heard This Before

February 29, 2008

George H.W. Bush

Hillary Clinton is out with a new ad that emphasizes her experience should in case of foreign policy or security crisis.

Here is the text of the ad courtesy of the Associated Press. “It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe asleep. But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something’s happening in the world.” (Sound of a phone ringing.) “Your vote will decide who answers that call, whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?”

The ad sounded familiar. When Bill Clinton, stumping for Hillary Clinton in Portland recently, made a similar appeal, I did some research. George H.W. Bush made the same type of argument in a presidential debate with Ross Perot and Bill Clinton! Here’s what Bush asked: “If in the next 5 minutes a television announcer came on and said, there is a major international crisis — there is a major threat to the world or in this country a major threat — my question is, who, if you were appointed to name 1 of the 3 of us, who would you choose?”

More incredibly, Bush used the same imagery of the phone ringing at night in speeches during his July, 1992 campaign. “”Many times in the White House late at night the phone rings and usually it’s some young aide double-checking on the next day’s schedule,” Bush said according to the Washington Post. “But occasionally, it’s another voice — more serious, more solemn — carrying news of a coup in a powerful country or asking how we should stand up to a bully halfway around the world.”

“The American people need to know that the man who answers that phone has the experience, the seasoning, the guts to do the right thing.”

This appeal, emotional as it is, didn’t work for Bush the Elder. Given the public mood right now, it’s not likely to work for Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama might have Deval Patrick to crib from, and Hillary Clinton has her husband’s 1992 opponent. Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Obama’s Plagiarism of Deval

February 19, 2008

It’s no surprise to anybody that Deval Patrick and Barack Obama have borrowed riffs and language from each other for the past several years. Their tremendous similarity is one reason, I believe, Obama lost both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Here’s what I wrote in January on the subject. I started my column with a Deval Patrick riff that could have been Obama: “This was not a victory just for me. This was not a victory just for Democrats. This was a victory for hope.”

For this reason, the Clinton attack of Obama carries little weight. It seems to me to be perfectly appropriate for a candidate who is essentially being advised, in part, by Deval Patrick, to use this language. It’s a transparent relationship, and everyone following politics is aware of it. It’s also well-known that Patrick and Obama share the same campaign strategist, David Axelrod, which puts the charge of “plagiarism” in a different and less damaging light.

Here’s my take on the fracas: “The saddest thing about the Clinton campaign’s attack on Mr. Obama’s oratory is that her team should have been ready for it. President Clinton came to Massachusetts on October 16, 2006, to campaign for Mr. Patrick, when he was making his “just words” speech. Mr. Clinton hosted a fundraiser for Mr. Patrick, whose own campaign was filled with rhetoric of hope. If anyone should have been prepared for and ready to counter such a campaign, it is Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Patrick’s language was so similar to that of Mr. Clinton during the 1992 campaign that the Boston Globe published a story about their similarities, ‘In Patrick, A Clinton Echo.’ The article quoted a key passage of a speech given by Mr. Clinton in 1992: ‘This election is a race between hope and fear, between division and community, between responsibility and blame, between whether we have the courage to change, to stay young forever, or whether we stay with the comfort of the status quo.’ The language was, in fact, so similar that Mr. Patrick could not tell if the words were his or Mr. Clinton’s.

Later that same day, Mr. Clinton praised his former appointee, Mr. Patrick, calling him “magnificent.” There is no record of him criticizing Mr. Patrick’s language as too similar to his own. Mrs. Clinton has a sliver of a chance in this presidential race. But yesterday’s tired trick will likely do more to hasten the end of her national political career than sustain it.”

Read more here.   

Bill Clinton in Portland, Maine

February 8, 2008

Bill Clinton in Portland's Becky's Diner

One political figure I haven’t seen much of this election season is Bill Clinton. He was stumping last night in Portland.

Mr. Clinton spoke at length about the economy but near the end of his remarks hinted at the consequences of a lack of experience on the part of a candidate. “Sometime in the next first 12 to 24 months, something’s going to happen that we’re not talking about,” Mr. Clinton said, noting that nobody asked the current president or his opponent, Vice President Gore, about a number of crises when they were running.

“No one asked them about 9/11, no one asked them about Katrina, no one asked them what are you going to do if Benazir Bhutto is tragically killed and Pakistan is a nuclear power…but when those things happen you have got to deal with them and if you don’t they will sweep you away.”

The argument was reminiscent of one made by Mr. Clinton’s 1992 opponent, George H.W. Bush, who in the 1992 campaign asked American voters at a debate “if in the next 5 minutes a television announcer came on and said, there is a major international crisis — there is a major threat to the world or in this country a major threat — my question is, who, if you were appointed to name 1 of the 3 of us, who would you choose?”

The whole notion of campaigning in Portland in February has taken the whole Maine establishment by surprise. I myself was convinced that the days of covering presidential events in New England would be done on January 8, now we’re almost a month past this date. Clinton himself was unprepared for a trip to Maine. He wore a light olive suit and took a trip to L.L. Bean before his speech.

For an event like the Maine caucuses, you have to dig down into details few of us are aware of. For example, In an election year that has pitted key Democratic constituencies against each other, with women and Latinos supportive of Mrs. Clinton and African-Americans for Mr. Obama, an unlikely ethnic group may emerge to make the difference in the caucuses, the largely blue collar French Canadian population which inhabits the aging mill towns of Maine’s interior, such as Biddeford, Saco and Westbrook.

“The key will be Franco-American Democrats, who tend to be conservative Democrats,” Christian Potholm, a Bowdoin professor, told me. “If they desert Clinton and go to Obama that would be a huge story.”

Bill Clinton Stands Up For Truth

October 26, 2007

I’ve been noticing the way the 9/11 conspiracists infiltrate political events and gatherings. I wrote about this phenomenon on the anniversary of 9/11. One thing that has bothered me about when these guys start hectoring celebrities and politicians about Building 7, they seem to have the rhetorical advantage. They put the person they are quizzing on the defensive. Well, they tried this recently with Bill Clinton, and he really put them in their place.

Clinton also has been the most effective person at articulating the peace deal that Yasser Arafat rejected at Camp David and Taba.

At a time when the country is hopelessly polarized, a circumstance that is augmented by the existence of the blogosphere, Bill Clinton knows how to occupy the center. If Hillary Clinton follows his lead in this regard, as she appears to be doing, she will be the next president.

What Bill Clinton Said About Al Qaeda

May 7, 2007

President Clinton was at the Kennedy School of Government on Friday. Here’s what he said about Al Qaeda and Mayor Bloomberg of New York.

Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and the author of “Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism”, said that Al Qaeda grew more brazen as the peace negations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority intensified. He cited the Oslo Accords (1993), the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (1995), the Hebron Agreement (1997), Wye River Agreement (1998), and Camp David negotiations (2000) as examples of peace deals which coincided with Al Qaeda’s growth and early attacks in Saudi Arabia, on the U.S. embassies in Africa, on the U.S.S. Cole and the World Trade Center. “During the 1990s, the Clinton Administration dedicated unprecedented resources in trying to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Gold said. “Yet in those very same years, Al Qaeda grew and expanded its operations. This history proves there is no correlation between Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and the rage that feeds the growth of Al Qaeda.”