A Reuters reporter notes that former President Bill Clinton has not only not yet endorsed Democratic presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama but, when given a chance to do so, pointedly balked — an unspoken but clear stance contradicting his wife Senator Hillary Clinton’s public calls for party unity:
The former first lady endorsed Obama, urged her supporters to rally behind him and is scheduled to campaign with him later this week.
But her husband has not publicly endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee to succeed President George W. Bush. Asked by journalists when he might do so, Clinton smiled and shook hands with spectators without acknowledging he heard the question.
That would have been a no-brainer for most politicos. Just say “in a week” or “within the near future I’ll have a statement.’
But by not answering and moving on Bill Clinton has likely made party unity among the Demmies tougher– or at least it will take longer. While his wife has publicly suspended her campaign and endorsed Obama and plans to campaign with the Illinois Senator next week, Bill Clinton has basically sent a message that he isn’t ready to endorse him yet. And — whether he meant for it or not — it’ll be a message for many Hillary Clinton supporters or Hillary Clinton supporters who cannot stand Obama.
Even worse: at the same appearance he made it clear he was unenthusiastic about one of Obama’s proposals — yet another sign that will be taken that Bill Clinton is not truly behind Obama as the front runner (and the more paranoid will say it’s a sign that Mr. Clinton won’t do much to help Obama win because he’s harboring hopes of a Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2012):
Former President Bill Clinton offered faint praise for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s energy policy on Sunday, saying he preferred it to that of Republican rival John McCain.
“I think we’ll get better national policy next year,” Clinton told the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a speech centered on improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases.
It was the former president’s first public appearance since his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, ended her presidential campaign on June 7, after Obama emerged as the Democratic candidate in the November election.
If he keeps this up, Bill Clinton won’t be making many public appearances at public events run by the Obama campaign.
Bill Clinton is again proving that, unlike the Bill Clinton of the 90s who might be emotional but knew how to use it in his and his causes’ interest, the 2008 Bill Clinton is a loose cannon seemingly more focused on personal grudges and power than the larger issue of party unity and helping Democrats as a party regain power and capture the White House.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.