Friday, February 01, 2008

"The Campaign"

Here is the beginning of the front page campaign story in today’s Boston Globe (emphasis mine):

WASHINGTON - After watching his wife lose the South Carolina primary by a 2-to-1 ratio to Senator Barack Obama last weekend, former President Bill Clinton took the campaign to an improbable location: Illinois, where Obama enjoys home-state advantage and is leading Hillary Clinton by double digits in polls.

The Clinton campaign doesn't actually hope to win Illinois, where a trove of 153 delegates is at stake. But Bill Clinton's trip there on Wednesday demonstrated how the two remaining Democratic candidates are quickly revising their campaign strategies to focus on racking up delegates, not wins.

The story calls it “the campaign”, but whose campaign?

Joe Klein, author of Primary Colors, writes in Time Magazine:

…at a moment of crisis in Hillary Clinton's campaign, Bill Clinton was suddenly back and all over the news. His reappearance made her seem weak, unable to defend herself. It raised the most fundamental question about her candidacy: If she is elected, who exactly will be President? What happens when there is a real crisis? My guess is, she'd be able to handle almost anything ... except him. I could easily see him jumping the shark, sending mixed messages when a single voice of authority is crucial—especially if the crisis involves one of his specialties, like the Middle East.

Yes, but there’s nothing that isn’t one of Bill Clinton’s specialties, except self-control.

Klein goes on:

And if she wins the nomination, you can bet the co-presidency question will be front and center in the general election. It is, therefore, vital that she address it now.

She can “address it now” all she wants, but who is going to believe her? Who could possibly believe that Bill Clinton will restrain himself if he returns to the White House for 4 more years? Is anyone, whether they support Hillary’s candidacy or not, gullible enough to believe that? I don't think so.

Like it or not, Clinton supporters are supporting not merely her candidacy but also his restoration, and the risks associated with his co-presidency. In 1993 people could claim to be surprised by Hillary’s central role in the Clinton first term. No one is entitled to be surprised again by Bill’s huge role in 2009, should Hillary win.

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