The Spectacle Blog

The Overrated Mr. Bill

By on 3.4.08 | 1:49PM

Jonathan Chait makes the argument, persuasively I think, that the Clintons are overrated as political talents:

The reality is less dramatic. Bill Clinton defeated a recession-weakened president with some help from a third-party spoiler, stopped the GOP from cutting highly popular social programs, won reelection during an economic boom and rallied his own party to thwart a wildly partisan impeachment crusade. None of these triumphs required unusual political skill.

Hillary Clinton has tried to piggyback on her husband's ferocious reputation, boasting that she "beat the Republican attack machine." Of course, if anybody beat the Republican attack machine, it was Bill. Hillary Clinton wasn't on any ballot in the 1990s. True, her reputation was at stake, but that's a fight she lost: She ended that decade a highly unpopular figure. She remains one today, with about half of the public persistently telling pollsters they have an unfavorable view of her.

Which will make it all the more remarkable if Hillary beats Barack Obama, a genuinely talented politician, tonight.

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