Via the Examiner, Bill does realize that it’s Obama’s devoted base of black voters that put her over the top in the primaries against Bernie Sanders, right? And that her chances of beating Trump this fall may come down to how much help O lends her on the trail in reassembling his winning 2012 coalition? That’s a weird backdrop politically for him to walk out there and start badmouthing The One. Even weirder, he’s saying this at a time when Obama’s job approval has turned net positive for the first time in nearly three years. There has never been a moment since May 2013 when Americans were less likely to agree that O’s legacy has been “awful” than right now, and here’s Bill taking a dump on him anyway. And it’s no answer to say “he was talking about the slow economic recovery since the financial crisis, not Obama’s presidency.” Team Hopenchange will tell you that America’s made great strides economically under Obama, thank you very much. His legacy may be mixed — thanks to Bush! thanks to Bush! — but it’s hardly awful, they’d insist.
He’ll spin this tomorrow, I assume, by insisting that the “awful legacy” he’s referring to is partisan polarization and gridlock, and surely Barack Obama bears no responsibility for that. Clinton’s point is that Hillary is a “change-maker” who can work with Democrats and Republicans; he could, and surely will, say that it’s all the GOP’s fault that they weren’t able to work with O but somehow they’re totally going to work with Hillary because she’s just that thoughtful and charming, I guess. I’ll give you another theory of what happened here, though: I’m probably wrong but it seems to me almost as if Clinton mentions “the awful legacy of the last eight years” out of force of habit, as if he’s thinking of Bush’s presidency. Watch how he pauses for a moment after saying the word “awful,” almost as if knows he’s about to say something wrong, and then segues immediately after the “eight years” bit without missing a beat into criticizing “the seven years before that where we were practicing trickle-down economics with no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash.” Maybe he was trying to contrast Hillary’s record with Dubya’s record, as every Democratic stump speech from now until the end of time will insist on doing, and he just lost his place temporally for a moment. It may be that this guy delivered this same shtick so many times on the trail for Hillary in 2008 that he lapsed back into it unthinkingly today.
Or maybe he really does think the last eight years reeked, despite (or because of?) his wife’s role in shaping them internationally. He has always been smarter and more centrist than most other Democrats.