Down, Boy Clinton - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Down, Boy Clinton

Stung by his increasingly diminished stature with the public, former President Bill Clinton is mounting an offensive that may cause greater damage to his party than he believes.

Clinton has been appearing on college campuses and speaking to business groups, but the enthusiasm he once took for granted from the crowds is not as evident.

“He’s noticing that there aren’t as many standing ovations. The cheers aren’t as loud,” says a former adviser in Washington. “He also feels penned in. He wanted to criticize Bush for Iraq, but he saw the backlash others were feeling and couldn’t bring himself to do it. He wants to be respected.”

The Clinton Library, which continues to suffer from slow fundraising, has mounted a $100,000 public relations mailing to donors and the media highlighting Clinton’s achievements in office. The timing of the mailing, on the heels of George W. Bush again peaking in popularity, was suspicious. But a Clinton Foundation staffer in Little Rock said the Clinton tip sheet has been in the works for several months as part of a six-month drive to raise the money to keep the library’s opening on schedule. “We’re due to open next year, and this is a big push time for us. We need the money,” says the staffer.

Clinton apparently expected that the University of Arkansas seminar series on his presidency would garner greater media coverage, as would his ideas on the direction of the country. According to the Clinton adviser in Washington, it was the former president’s people who leaked word that he had been secretly meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Iraq. But those staffers left out Clinton’s meetings and conversations with German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

“You know it’s going to be about image with Clinton,” says the former adviser. “In the end, he really doesn’t care about Bush on policy. It bugs him that Bush is more popular, more respected in many ways than he is.”

And it’s that desire to stay one up on the Republican that may drive him to damage his party. Clinton is said by some advisers to be seriously considering pressing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his wife, to dip her toe in the presidential waters. This, despite the fact that she has previously insisted she would not run, and lingering doubts about her national appeal beyond the far-left.

“If she undertakes a national campaign of some kind, he’s back in the game in a way he isn’t now,” says another former adviser in New York. “He’d be a focus of the attention again.”

Senator Clinton garnered some attention for her firebrand attack on the Bush administration last week in a fundraising appearance in Connecticut. That speech, and several others scheduled for the month of May, are intended to measure whether a national campaign of any kind is possible this late in the presidential sweepstakes.

“It would probably be difficult for her to mount anything like a presidential campaign,” says the former staffer in New York. “But she could kind of shadow the other candidates, make appearances, fundraise for her PAC and the like to gauge the level of enthusiasm. Any attention she gets for any extended period of time washes over Bill, too, which is what he craves.”

Democratic National Committee staff say any attempt by the Clintons to step into national politics now would spell disaster for the party. “We’re just starting to emerge from the malaise we had with his exit,” says a DNC staffer. “Our bases are getting energized by the candidates we have. The party is feeling its oats. To draw attention away from the people who have been working at it for six months isn’t going to help.”

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