I’m pretty sure that some of our friends on the Right will conclude from this that Bill Clinton quit the much-ballyhooed “debate” with George W. Bush because he was afraid to get challenged and beaten in a public forum, but I’m inclined to think otherwise. Bush does well in debates, as Al Gore discovered to his chagrin, but Bill Clinton is no slouch, either — and as the last election campaign showed, not exactly one to shy away from ripping people at a podium. Clinton’s explanation, which gets treated with some barely-concealed scorn by the Fox presenter, is probably true:
Clinton has made a number of appearances with Bush’s father for humanitarian purposes, and the initial description of this event gave the impression that the focus would be on the experience of the presidency rather than policy. Even if Clinton and Bush intended to debate policy, promoting it as a “death match” between the two former Presidents is pretty unseemly, and hardly befits the dignity of their positions. If I were Bill Clinton or George Bush and saw that, I’d be inclined to withdraw, too — and I suspect that Bush would have done so if Clinton hadn’t.