It’s hard to know what expect next from a former president who seems to be losing his cool in the throes of this year’s Democratic primary season. Reportedly Congressman [Rahm] Emanuel and Sen. [Ted] Kennedy have told former President Bill Clinton to turn his criticism of Barack Obama down a notch, and … former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle has said that Clinton’s actions are “not presidential.” CNN told us that leading black lawmaker Jim Clyburn wants Bill Clinton “to chill.”
When George W. Bush ran, his father stayed a respectable distance from the political campaign. As heated as that contest got, we never saw the former President Bush kneecapping John McCain or Al Gore or John Kerry. But now we have Bill Clinton calling Obama’s position on the Iraq war a “fairytale,” criticizing him for acknowledging the transformative role that Ronald Reagan played in American politics and saying his nomination would be “a role of the dice.”
Clinton alleged that the Nevada caucuses were being compromised by voter suppression—a serious allegation. It is unclear if it was mere political theater or if the Clinton campaign will follow up on the irregularities now that they have won that contest. … When Clinton said that he hadn’t seen anything like [those irregularities] in the past 30 years of American politics, I wondered where he was in 2000. That year in Florida … there were widespread reports of voter suppression and violations of the Voting Rights Act. The victims were largely African Americans, and yet when they needed an advocate, Mr. and Ms. Clinton were not there to speak for them. I know, because I was there.
With this as background, I relished my recent opportunity (in Greenville, S.C.) to ask [former] President Clinton how he thought the negative tone of his attacks of Sen. Obama would affect his legacy in the South, most notably with the African-American community. He said that he didn’t worry about his legacy and that he “is not standing in Obama’s way.” But … he went on to say that he admired Sen. Obama and hoped to be able to vote for him one day—[which] undermines all the dirty tactics that the Clinton campaign has engaged in to this point. You can’t pretend to think Sen. Obama shares Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy one day and the very next say that you would like to vote for him. And if a former president takes the attack-dog role in a political campaign, it can’t help but diminish that president’s legacy.
— Chris Busby