Maybe it was Charles Krauthammer’s snide dig about Bill Clinton being a “double agent” for the Mitt Romney campaign, or perhaps the angry reaction from the former President’s allies on the Left. Whatever prompted it, Clinton’s own team has gone into overdrive to push him under Barack Obama’s bus, hoping to convince the media to forget what Clinton has said over the past week about the economy and Romney’s “sterling business career” at Bain Capital. Politico reports that they’re even hinting that Clinton might be too old to take too seriously:
In the past, these kinds of complaints have often prompted Clinton lieutenants to kindly suggest that the Obama team can go to hell: a former president can, should and will say what he wants.
This time was different: Clinton’s team was as aghast as Obama’s at how the boss had wandered blithely into remarks that left even sympathetic listeners wondering what exactly he was getting at. He also gave gleeful Republicans an opening to skewer Obama with a popular Democrat’s own words.
Clinton, in a ritual that would be familiar to anyone who has worked for him during the past 20 years, protested that his words were being wrested from context and blamed a manipulative news media for stirring up trouble to satisfy its own lust for chaos and conflict.
But his own team, and eventually Clinton himself, agreed there was no choice but to issue embarrassing what-the-former-president-meant-to-say clarifications, which were crafted in close consultation with senior Obama aides at the White House and campaign headquarters in Chicago, according to people involved in the negotiations.
They offered Politico this explanation:
Clinton, say associates, while mentally sharp, is older and a step off his political game, less attuned to the need for clarity and message-discipline during interviews.
“He’s 65 years old,” said one adviser, explaining how Clinton in a CNBC interview managed to say that the economy was in recession when it is not.
Wow. Do politicians become liabilities at 65 years of age now? If so, someone had better check Hillary’s expiration date, because she’ll be turning 65 just a few days before the 2012 election.
Team Obama must be exerting a whole lot of pressure to get a full recantation from Clinton and his camp, mainly for speaking the truth. Most people in the US do feel that we are in a recession, or at least a recessionary environment, and Mitt Romney did have a sterling business career at Bain Capital. The problem for Obama is that his campaign can’t handle those truths, literally, as they have to pretend that the economy is rosy and that Romney is an eeeeeeevil vampire capitalist in order to win, rather than defend their own record and agenda as Clinton suggested last week. Maybe they should be listening to the wisdom of their elders, rather than push his aides into suggesting that Clinton’s starting to get a little demented from age.
Instead, they sent Debbie Wasserman Schultz onto CNN’s Piers Morgan to argue that Romney doesn’t have a sterling business career, and attack Clinton obliquely:
Host Piers Morgan reminded the DNC chairwoman of Clinton’s appearance on his program last week with fill-in host Harvey Weinstein in which he praised Obama’s opponent by defending his “sterling” business career. But according to Wasserman Schultz, that was an incorrect statement.
“No, I don’t agree with President Clinton on that point,” she said. “In fact, Mitt Romney is basing his entire candidacy on his experience in the private sector. And the only application that we have in government to — of Mitt Romney’s sterling private sector experience is when he was governor of Massachusetts, in which he brought Massachusetts from being 36th to 47th out of 50 in job creation.”
Wasserman Schultz went on to speak on Clinton’s behalf saying that he was “100 percent behind Obama,” despite interpretations of those remarks that suggest otherwise.
I’m pretty sure that Clinton is sincere in backing Obama, too — I don’t buy the idea that he’s hoping to install a Republican President to make it easier for Hillary in 2016. Besides, at 69, Clinton’s own team might think she’d be too old.