If you say something often enough (“It’s a brand new pre-owned car!” “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction!” “Why, honey, that dress doesn’t make you look fat!”) you might get others — and perhaps yourself — to believe it. Perhaps that’s what’s behind former President Clinton’s assertion that his message in the campaign has been “99.99 percent” positive.
At the end of a week in which he’s often been the center of attention, former president Bill Clinton struck a conciliatory note, admitting that he has gotten “hot” defending his wife even as he defended his campaign role.
“I have not said anything that is factually inaccurate,” he said.
But that’s not what a large number of politicians, Democrats, liberal Democrats, conservatives, political analysts and columnists who have generally supported Bill Clinton are saying.
And here is the kicker:
Clinton had some scrambled eggs and grits with supporters this morning before setting off to visit polling locations here and upstate. As he greeted voters at the Meadowlake polling station, a woman greeted him and said, “You’re doin’ good. Just watch what you say.”
“My message has been 99.9% positive for 100% of this campaign,” Clinton said to reporters later. “I think that when I think she’s being misrepresented, I have a right to try to with factual accuracy set the record straight, which is what I’ve tried to do.”
Attention Jiminy Cricket…
If Mr. Clinton’s assertions have been “99.99” percent positive and he hasn’t said anything inaccurate, than he must be the most MISUNDERSTOOD MAN in America.
For instance, here’s New York Times’ columnist Bob Herbert, who can’t be confused with a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy or (if I believe my emails) the Moderate Who MUST Really Be A Republican So He Hates Bill Clinton (who actually voted for him, though, and defended him during impeachment):
That [previously respectful tone of the Democratic campaign] has been lost, undermined by a deliberate injection of ugliness, and it would be very difficult to make the case that the Clintons have not been primarily to blame.
Bill Clinton, in his over-the-top advocacy of his wife’s candidacy, has at times sounded like a man who’s gone off his medication. And some of the Clinton surrogates have been flat-out reprehensible.
He gives details (which we have covered extensively on this website) then writes:
Mr. Obama’s campaign was always going to be difficult, and the climb is even steeper now. There is no reason to feel sorry for him. He’s a politician out of Chicago who must have known that campaigns often degenerate into demolition derbies.
Still, it’s legitimate to ask, given the destructive developments of the last few weeks, whether the Clintons are capable of being anything but divisive. The electorate seems more polarized now than it was just a few weeks ago, and the Clintons have seemed positively gleeful in that atmosphere.
It makes one wonder whether they have any understanding or regard for the corrosive long-term effects — on their party and the nation — of pitting people bitterly and unnecessarily against one another.
What kind of people are the Clintons? What role will Bill Clinton play in a new Clinton White House? Can they look beyond winning to a wounded nation’s need for healing and unifying?
These are questions that need to be answered. Stay tuned.
Jonathan Chait, senior editor at The New Republic, doesn’t look or sound like radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and Chait has defended and backed Bill Clinton before. Yet, in a column in the Los Angeles Times he writes:
Something strange happened the other day. All these different people — friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read — kept saying the same thing: They’ve suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we’ve reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons.
The sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational. We’re not frothing Clinton haters like … well, name pretty much any conservative. We just really wish they’d go away.
The big turning point seems to be this week, when the Clintons slammed Obama for acknowledging that Ronald Reagan changed the country. Everyone knows Reagan changed the country. Bill and Hillary have said he changed the country. But they falsely claimed that Obama praised Reagan’s ideas, saying he was a better president than Clinton — something he didn’t say and surely does not believe.
Not only is it DOCUMENTED that this was patently false, but the Clinton campaign then aired an ad that repeated it again. It all depends on what the definition of “lie” and “negative campaigning” is.
But Chait is not done yet. Here’s just part of it:
I crossed the Clinton Rubicon a couple of weeks ago when, in the course of introducing Hillary, Clinton supporter and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson invoked Obama’s youthful drug use. This was disgusting on its own terms, but worse still if you know anything about Johnson. I do — I once wrote a long profile of him. He has a sleazy habit of appropriating the logic of civil rights for his own financial gain. He also has a habit of aiding conservative crusades to eliminate the estate tax and privatize Social Security by falsely claiming they redistribute wealth from African Americans to whites. The episode reminded me of the Clintons’ habit of surrounding themselves with the most egregious characters: Dick Morris, Marc Rich and so on.
Am I starting to sound like a Clinton hater? It’s a scary thought. Of course, to conservatives, it’s a delicious thought. The Wall Street Journal published a gloating editorial noting that liberals had suddenly learned “what everyone else already knows about the Clintons.” (By “everyone,” it means Republicans.)
It made me wonder: Were the conservatives right about Bill Clinton all along? Maybe not right to set up a perjury trap so they could impeach him, but right about the Clintons’ essential nature? Fortunately, the Journal’s attempt to convince us that the Clintons have always been unscrupulous liars seemed to prove the opposite. Its examples of Clintonian lies were their claims that Bob Dole wanted to cut Medicare, that there was a vast right-wing conspiracy, that Paula Jones was “trailer trash” and that Kenneth Starr was a partisan.
His final question:
If Hillary wins the nomination, most of us will probably vote for her because the alternative is likely to be worse. But what happens if she’s embroiled in another scandal? Will liberals rally behind her, or will they remember the Democratic primary?
Why don’t people GET IT — about how positive Bill’s message has been and how he has been 99.99 percent accurate, too? Bill Clinton is a victim — he’s misunderstood.
Another person who seems sadly confused and mistaken about Bill Clinton’s positive, uplifting and inspiring appearances in what some pundits now call the Billary campaign (a unofficial campaign to essentially have a couple basically serving as co-Presidents with an official Vice President under them) is Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King whose column MUST be read in full because he lists specific items that Mr. Clinton apparently forgot.
Here’s how King ends his piece:
Item: Billary loves to whine about the “politics of personal destruction.” But Billary’s campaign has taken to the low road, running ads falsely accusing Obama of supporting federal deficits and private Social Security accounts, and distorting his position on hot-button issues such as abortion. Newark Mayor Corey Booker, who branded the attacks “outrageous” and “dishonest,” told Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter: “We’re trying to offer an alternative to the Republicans’ fear and smear campaigns, and now we’re being dragged down to their level by the Clintons.”
One thing’s for sure: A Clinton administration will be a four-year co-presidency with all of the drama that Billary has managed to bring to every undertaking.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start worrying about tomorrow. Billary gives us enough to worry about today.
He, too, would normally support the Clintons.
So is Bill Clinton is the most MISUNDERSTOOD man in America?
He’s the most UNDERSTOOD MAN in America.
UPDATE: Exit polls show Bill Clinton did NOT do his wife any favors in South Carolina.