Presidential etiquette

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

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13 thoughts on “Presidential etiquette

  1. travelah

    Well, let’s be fair. There is only one President in Bill Cinton’s household and he is it. Do you really think he is going to be second fiddle to his wife in the White House? … Nope … he is sly as a fox.

  2. nam veteran

    Yes Bill Clinton is sly like a fox. And foxes have destain for those they hoodwink. Trouble is, foxes don’t give their marks enough credit. That attitude of Bill Clinton’s got him impeached while he was in office. That attitude of Bill Clinton’s has gotten Hillary’s campaign almost completely sidelined.

    After having to endure Bill Clinton’s disgraceful behavior in the Oval Office, and besmirchment it has stained the Office of Presidency, I must say it looks like the karma has come full circle. Hillary is getting her tail kicked pretty bad. Bill Clinton’s behavior in South Carolina and Nevada has a lot to do with it. Now it looks like Hillary’s $5 million dollar personal loan to her campaign (where did she get $5 million dollars?), is down the drain. And her White House ambitions with it. Thanks Bill for being yourself and letting us finally see you pay for your reprehensible behavior. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving couple than the Clintons.

    Go Obama!

  3. Ashevegasjoe

    Once again I concur with Nam Vet– this is scary. Obama musst really have crossover appeal to Republicans, Independents, and people who just don’t like McCain. For the first time in my life I’m excited that we might get an eloquent, intelligent leader.

  4. Eli Cohen

    Yes, I agree with you Ashevegasjoe. Not since the Kennedy era has a leader presented such eloquence and intelligence. At last a leader has emerged that may have a chance of lifting us out of the partisan muck. All this angst and anger over a man who has been out of office for eight years is conterproductive. Let us take the high road on this journey of life!

  5. Nam Vet

    And I trust you are not one of those who still hates Richard Nixon, Eli? If we are to from holding Bill Clinton’s feet to the fire, turnabout is fair play. :)

    Back on thread, is anyone surprised Clinton has not been acting unpresidential in this primary race,considering how unpresidential he has acted in the past? His sins:

    -Only the 2nd US president to ever have been impeached

    -Permanently disbarred from practicing law in front of the US Supreme Court; disbarred for 5 years in Arkansas

    -Committed perjury (the reason for both above actions against him)

    -Had repeated acts of sodomy committed on him by an intern his daughter’s age in the Oval Office during normal business hours (the reason he lied and was convicted of perjury)

    I am not a bit surprised Bill Clinton is still acting unpresidential. It looks like Hillary’s run for resident becomes bleaker every day…much of it courtesy of Bill’s dirty politicking against Sen Obama. There is a God!

  6. Nam Vet,

    Do you ever suspect if the constant partisan bickering on both ‘sides’ of the political spectrum is just how the system of corruption and greed in Washington DC keep people confused and disoriented?

    Something my cynical mid-thirties self likes about Obama is his desire to listen to both ‘sides’ and try to find some sort of even ground in dialogue, as opposed to the good cop/bad cop divisiveness of the Liberal/Conservative paradigm.

    This divisiveness is how the rich and powerful keep the average folks like us bickering about petty nonsense while they whittle away everything our Founding Fathers and Soldiers have worked to preserve for us.

  7. Ashevegasjoe

    Clinton is a liar, but his impeachment didn’t make it through congress. With good reason, as it was politically motivated, and pushed forward by Newt Gingrich, who has recently admitted to committing adultery while he was attacking Clinton. At the height of his attempted impeachment Clinton had a 70% approval rating.

    Bush, on the other hand, has commited argaubly a half dozen or more impeachable offenses, and Pelosi says impeachment is off the table? Give me a break. Also, Bush’s approval rating has languished around 28%. Clinton was way more presedential, and Obama will be better still.

  8. travelah

    Ashevegas, please name one impeachable offense that Bush has committed.

  9. Ashevegasjoe

    ” For starters, invading another country on false pretenses is grounds for impeachment. Also, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution essentially says that the people have the right to be secure against unreasonable government searches and seizures and that no search warrants shall be issued without probable cause that a crime has been committed. And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires that warrants for national security wiretaps be authorized by the secret FISA court. The law says that it is a crime for government officials to conduct electronic surveillance outside the exclusive purviews of that law or the criminal wiretap statute. President Bush’s authorization of the monitoring of Americans’ e-mails and phone calls by the National Security Agency (NSA) without even the minimal protection of FISA court warrants is clearly unconstitutional and illegal. Executive searches without judicial review violate the unique checks and balances that the nation’s founders created in the U.S. government and are a considerable threat to American liberty. Furthermore, surveillance of Americans by the NSA, an intelligence service rather than a law enforcement agency, is a regression to the practices of the Vietnam-era, when intelligence agencies were misused to spy on anti-war protesters—another impeachable violation of peoples’ constitutional rights by LBJ and Nixon.

    President Bush defiantly admits initiating such flagrant domestic spying but contends that the Congress implicitly authorized such activities when it approved the use of force against al Qaeda and that such actions fit within his constitutional powers as commander-in-chief. But the founders never intended core principles of the Constitution to be suspended during wartime. In fact, they realized that it was in times of war and crisis that constitutional protections of the people were most at risk of usurpation by politicians, who purport to defend American freedom while actually undermining it.

    The Bush administration’s FBI has also expanded its use of national security letters to examine the personal records of tens of thousands of Americans who are not suspected of being involved in terrorism or even illegal acts.

    Apparently the president is also taking us back to the Vietnam era by monitoring anti-war protesters. Information on peaceful anti-war demonstrations has apparently found its way into Pentagon databases on possible threats to U.S. security.

    Finally, the president’s policies on detainees in the “war on terror” probably qualify as impeachable offenses. The Bush administration decided that the “war on terror” exempted it from an unambiguous criminal law and international conventions (which are also the law of the land) preventing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. An American president permitting torture is both disgraceful and ineffective in getting good information from those held. Furthermore, the administration concocted the fictitious category of “enemy combatants” to deprive detainees of the legal protections of either the U.S. courts or “prisoner-of-war” status. The administration then tried to detain these enemy combatants, some of them American citizens, indefinitely without trial, access to counsel, or the right to have courts to review their cases.

    All of these actions are part of President Bush’s attempt to expand the power of presidency during wartime—as if the imperial presidency hadn’t been expanded enough by his recent predecessors. President Bush usually gets the Attorney General or the White House Counsel to agree with his usurpation of congressional and judicial powers, but, of course, who in the executive is going to disagree with their boss? According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration describes the president’s war making power under the Constitution as “plenary”—meaning absolute. The founders would roll over in their graves at this interpretation of a document that was actually designed to limit the presidential war power, resulting from their revulsion at the way European monarchs easily took their countries to war and foisted the costs—in blood and treasure—on their people. Conservative Bob Barr, a former Congressman from Georgia who was quoted in the Post, said it best: “The American people are going to have to say, ‘Enough of this business of justifying everything as necessary for the war on terror.’ Either the Constitution and the laws of this country mean something or they don’t. It is truly frightening what is going on in this country.”” (note: I hate to feed into you and Nam Vet’s assertions that I can’t think for myself, but in full disclosure this is not my work, but it is common knowledge and I didn’t want to outline all of the obvious offenses when it has been done so well, so many times)

  10. Billy P Patton

    “Clinton is a liar”. Got to agree with you there Joe. Are you one of those people who don’t understand impeachment? Impeachment is an indictment. The House voted to impeach Clinton. He was impeached. The partisan fix happened in the Senate where democrats rallied to keep the conviction from happening, because they didn’t want the embarrassment to their party. Clinton was rightly impeached. He has permanently harmed the office of president. You know school children can’t be told the details of why he was impeached. That’s sad. I’ll add to liar, that Clinton is a pervert too. If Clinton is unpresidential enough to have oral sex in the Oval Office with a young intern, is anybody surprised he tried to slime Obama in South Carolina?

    As far as Clinton acting unpresidential (according to his own democrats), you aint seen nothin yet. The Clinton’s will do anything to get elected and be in power. Wait and see how they slime Obama in the future. Hope Obama doesn’t end up in Fort Marcy Park with a bullet in his head. But if the Clinton’s have to go that far they will.

  11. Ashevegasjoe

    Clinton wasn’t impeached in the senate bacause there was no public support for it, and senators are elected officials. As I stated earlier, at the height of his “impeachment” he had a 70% approval rating from the public (G.W. has hovered around 28%). If you want to talk about harming the office of the president, read the post above.

    I too am afraid that some ignorant person will try to assasinate Obama, but we can’t let the terrorists win!

  12. Billy P Patton

    There was plenty of support amongst the people for the “conviction” of Clinton in the Senate. The Senate does not vote on impeachment, but on conviction. Where’d you go to school? Warren Wilson?

    The reason Clinton skated in the Senate, even though the evidence was overwhelming, was of partisan voting by democrats. Evidence that the charges were true is that Clinton was CONVICTED in a court of law for perjury, lying under oath. Probably the only president ever who is a convicted felon.

    And President Bush is still president. If you think that has stuck in your craw these past 7 years, consider 4 years of John McCain, then 8 years of Mitt Romney. It’ll happen. There is a God!

  13. Ashevegasjoe

    I have documented where I went to school, how ’bout you. Madison? I listed why hje “skated”, because the overwhelming American public supported him, unlike your current pres. who is a failure, like everything he has done in life. After Barack wins your president will have to face a jury of his peers, and will be a convicted felon as well. McCain will be beat 70%-30%, the democrats will control the house, senate, presidency, and soon the Supreme Court. Then, your head will explode, and I will affirm the love that is God, Hallelujah!

    Mitt Romney, that’s a good one

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