Remnick on Clinton - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Remnick on Clinton
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Last night, I read David Remnick's very very long New Yorker profile on Bill Clinton, in which he follows Clinton around Africa as Clinton does work on AIDS. For those who don't have time to read the whole piece, this press release highlights many of the key parts and the magazine's website also posted an interview with Remnick, in which he discusses the story. Putting aside Remnick's gushing over Clinton, which is par for the course for the New Yorker, I thought the piece went on far too long and lacked a clear focus. Remnick obviously had a high degree of access, but I think he assumes that the reader will be as interested as he was in every little detail of his trip with Clinton.

One thing that I was reminded of by reading the piece is Clinton's obnoxious habit of acting humble and self-critical when he's actually being arrogant and boastful. One example is how he says that having his father die young made him want to fit two lifetimes into one and that, "most of the personal and political mistakes I made in my life were because I tried too much and was exhausted. But I also got a lot done." Also, he expresses remorse for not doing more about AIDS in Africa while he was president, and relates a story about how Chelsea gave him a C+ on the matter in a thesis she wrote for Oxford. "She said, 'You didn't do nearly enough. But you did more than anyone else in the world.'" Remnick quips that, "Clinton told the story with such good humor that you would have thought he'd received an A-minus."

With all that said, another thing that clearly comes across in the piece is why Clinton has been the only Democratic president since FDR to be elected for two terms: "'It would really be crazy,'" Clinton says, "'if the anti-war element of our Party thought that the most important thing to do was to beat up on the Democrats, and gave the Republicans a free ride.'" That statement rings true in the context of the Democrats' McGovernite turn in the Lamont/Lieberman race and is clearly a preview of the arguments that Hillary Clinton will use to assuage the concerns of the hard-line anti-war Democrats in her party as she seeks the presidency. The anti-war Left will be the perfect foil for Hillary to come across as more moderate ahead of the general election.

Remnick's piece explores in detail how Bill Clinton could provide a big boost to Hillary both in terms of strategy and on the campaign trail in 2008 (Bob Kerrey is quoted in the piece saying Bill is worth 200 million in free media).

At the end of the day, of course, Hillary Clinton will have to win on her own, because people vote for or against the candidate at the top of the ticket, not the vice president, the First Spouse, or anybody else. While Hillary may be disciplined, and understand what she needs to do strategically, the problem is that her strategy is so transparent and she comes across as so telegraphed and robotic, a stark contrast to the smoothness of her husband. No matter what he said or did, there's something about Bill Clinton that makes a majority of people like him, whereas, Hillary Clinton has the opposite effect on most people — they tend to dislike her no matter what.

Don't get me wrong. I still think Hillary can win in 2008, but it depends on the political climate two years from now as well as whether Republicans nominate someone lame.

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