Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary's double message about Bill

While listening to the first 58 minutes of Hillary's now-infamous interview with the Argus (SD) Leader, it dawned on me that her "ready on day 1" pitch includes an implicit rebuke of Bill Clinton's administration. One subtext seems to be, 'don't pick a candidate as unready to take office as Bill was.'

I can't find a transcript, but to paraphrase, Hillary said that one thing she learned from the ride with Bill is that a new President has a narrow window, about a year, to get a major part of his/her agenda enacted. In a sense, Bill did this. In that first spring, his Administration bobbed and weaved its way to a deficit reduction package that passed the Senate on VP Al Gore's tiebreaking vote. That proved to be the keynote for Clinton's signature achievement: restoring economic confidence and growth by getting the Federal budget on a firm footing.

But that major achievement was a Plan B bi-product of internal struggles to find a focal point. Bill's first year was otherwise a disaster ride, his authority eroded by a string of small-bore screwups: an uproar and ignoble compromise over gays in the military; the Travelgate brouhaha, the serial scotched attorney general nominations. And all the while, Hillary herself was ginning up the trainwreck that was supposed to be the Clintons' signature accomplishment: universal healthcare.

Was the country wrong to take a flier on Bill? Hillary's viability depends on answering 'no' (and I agree). But if there's anything Bill wasn't, it was "ready on day one."

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that HRC's Presidential campaign is, in part, an attempt by Senator Clinton to redeem the liberal failure which most people who supported WJC in 1992 and 1996 feel that his period in office became. A Clinton 44 presidency (she and her supporters seem to think) would be like Clinton 42 without the self-imposed flaws. The "ready-on-Day-1" message is further support for the idea of Clinton 44 as redemption of Clinton 42.