Despite Politico’s rather breathless article today touting what it claims are tensions “boiling” between Hillary and Bill Clinton and their top supporters, I suspect it’s overplayed. The tone of the piece — starting with the overheated title (“Exclusive: Obama-Clinton Feud Reignites”) and continuing with Jim VandeHei’s stern video warning “Don’t buy it [claims of unity]; there is soooo much tension still between these two candidates.” — is that of a sportscaster at a hotly contested World Series game — or, as TBogg puts it, like the Gossip Girls “reporting from the lockers by the girls gym … three days before the prom.”
BooMan focuses on the reports of Bill Clinton’s unhappiness with the assigned topic for his convention speech on Wednesday:
I don’t doubt that Bill is having a harder time reconciling himself to the primary loss than Hillary. Hillary was not impeached. It was Bill that had the great emotional need for redemption and acceptance that a restoration would bring. It must be painful for him to realize that there will be no full redemption. In some ways, Bill Clinton is a partly innocent victim of the failures of the Democratic Party as an opposition party during the Bush years.
He’s only partly innocent because it was his wing of the party that was the most egregiously spineless and accommodating. To use but one example, it was Lanny Davis (as the only Democrat serving on President Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Board) who gave the administration a clean bill of health on their warrantless wiretapping programs.
The Bush administration’s poor stewardship of the economy and their atrocious foreign policy have both served to highlight the weaknesses in the Clinton Administration’s policies, while squandering or reversing the strengths. This, too, has done lasting (and not fully deserved) damage to the Clinton legacy. Bill Clinton is very disturbed by the tarnish on his record, and he’s frustrated that he won’t have the opportunity to work on buffing it to a new shine.
But, if you think about it, the best, and perhaps last, opportunity to repair the damage will be in his speech at the convention. A gracious and effective speech can do wonders. Remember Al Gore’s concession speech in 2000? That’s the kind of template Bill Clinton should be looking at when he thinks about the impression he wants to leave for posterity. I know Bill Clinton has one last magnificent performance left in him. I hope he seizes the chance.
Amen to that.