Bill Clinton Set To Play Bigger Role In His Wife’s Campaign In The New Year

Former President Clinton is set to hit the campaign trail for his wife in the New Year, and that could make things quite entertaining.

bill-and-hillary-clinton

For the most part, former President Bill Clinton has stayed in the background during much of 2015 as his wife has built her campaign for the Democratic Presidential Nomination and, in the longer term, a General Election next November. While Hillary Clinton has toured the country and concentrated on carefully selected media appearances, the former President has largely stuck to his schedule of fundraising and other activities under the auspices of the Clinton Foundation. For some time, though, the question of when Clinton’s Presidential campaign would start rolling out the former President has been asked by political analysts and pundits and, at least according to The Wall Street Journal, we’re about to get a bigger dose of the former President in the New Year. For Hillary Clinton, though, this could be something of a double-edged sword:

A new and more combative phase of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign opens next month when she sends her husband out to stump for her in important early states.

Waiting for him will be businessman Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner.

The former president has been a low-key figure since Mrs. Clinton entered the race for the Democratic nomination in April, offering private advice and helping her raise money at closed-door fundraisers. In January, the campaign intends to showcase him in public forums in Iowa and New Hampshire, two states where the front-runner is locked in a tight race against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Speaking to supporters recently, Mrs. Clinton described her husband as a “secret weapon.”

Throwing Mr. Clinton into the mix could further escalate the rhetoric between the Trump and Clinton campaigns. In the 2008 presidential race, the former president would bristle at criticism directed at his wife and got in hot water when he suggested Barack Obama’s victory in the South Carolina primary was less significant because of the large African-American vote.

This past week saw back-and-forth volleys over whether comments Mr. Trump made about Mrs. Clinton were sexist. He said Mr. Obama “schlonged” her in the 2008 race and said her brief absence from a recent Democratic debate stage, when she was reportedly using the restroom, was “disgusting.”

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Trump has “demonstrated a penchant for sexism.” That drew a response from Mr. Trump on Twitter: “Hillary, when you complain about ‘a penchant for sexism,’ who are you referring to. I have great respect for women.’ ” In capital letters he then wrote, “BE CAREFUL!”

Asked what Mr. Trump meant, his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said: “Mr. Trump speaks for Mr. Trump and his tweets speak for themselves. And he’s very clear about what those tweets say.”

Another Trump spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, suggested in an interview with CNN that the Trump campaign intends to make Mr. Clinton’s behavior an issue should Mrs. Clinton pursue this point. Mr. Clinton, during his presidency, paid $850,000 to settle a sexual harassment case brought by Paula Jones stemming from an encounter when he was governor of Arkansas. His affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky led to his impeachment by the U.S. House in 1998. He was acquitted by the Senate the following year.

(…)

Mr. Clinton is a revered figure in Democratic circles and was a key surrogate for Mr. Obama in his 2012 re-election bid. A survey conducted in part by The Wall Street Journal last year said he was by a margin of more than 2 to 1 the most admired president of the past quarter century.

Marc Lasry, a friend of Mr. Clinton’s and head of New York hedge fund firm Avenue Capital Group, said: “President Clinton campaigning for Hillary is a huge asset. People love seeing him and he’s able to explain things to people in a way that’s unique.”

(Friday, authorities in Hope, Ark., said a fire that caused minor damage to Mr. Clinton’s childhood home, now a National Historic Site, was apparently caused by arson, according to the Associated Press.)

Because of the spotlight he attracts, some analysts said the Clinton campaign would be wise to have the two campaign separately so that Mr. Clinton doesn’t overshadow the candidate.

“He’s a luminescent figure. That’s always an issue,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser in both of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns. He added, “It’s important for people to see her out there on her own.”

The attraction for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in bringing out Bill Clinton at this point is rather obvious. He remains the most popular living former President by a substantial margin over the rest of the group, and he is even more popular among base Democratic voters. In addition to fundraising events, the former President’s role for the campaign is likely to largely consist of rallying Democratic voters in early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Nevada as part of the campaign’s largely get out the vote effort heading into the beginning of the primaries in February. It’s a role Clinton has played before for his own campaigns, as well as Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 notwithstanding the bad blood that had developed between the Clinton and Obama campaigns during the long primary battle that year. One group of voters that former President Clinton has been very successful at persuading over the years, of course, have been African-American Democrats, and while that is a small amount of the electorate in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, it is far more substantial in states like South Carolina and, of course, in the states across the southern United States that will be voting in early primaries beginning in March. Hillary Clinton, of course, is immensely popular among African-American voters on her own, of course, which is one of the reasons why she does so much substantially better outside of states like New Hampshire than Bernie Sanders, who has struggled to gain any foothold at all among that immensely important segment of the Democratic Party, Finally, the former President on the campaign trail would be entirely consistent with the Clinton campaign’s current campaign, which is clearly aimed more toward the General Election than a nomination fight that largely seems to be over and done with.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t downsides to having Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail, of course. As we learned in South Carolina in 2008 when he essentially said that then Senator Obama was only doing well in the polling in that state because of it’s large African-American population, he was widely condemning inside the Democratic Party and caused headaches for his wife going forward as some alleged that the campaign was playing the ‘race card.’ For the most part, though, the former President seems to have learned his lessons from that debacle and seems unlikely to repeat incidents of that kind going forward, especially since Bernie Sanders is obviously not as serious a competitor as Obama was eight years ago. Given that, the danger of Bill Clinton going “off script” seems less likely this time around than it was eight years ago.

There is, however, one wild card here that could make the entry of Bill Clinton into the race as a campaigner for his wife quite interesting, and his name is Donald Trump. Trump has already shown that he has no compunction about hitting Hillary Clinton by making reference to Bill Clinton’s past issues with women and, of course, the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to President Clinton’s impeachment. For Trump, of course, these comments go over well with die-hard conservatives who have a hatred of the Clintons that runs as deep as the hatred for President Obama, if not deeper, so it’s not surprising he would bring these issues up in the course of the GOP primary. The entry of Bill Clinton into the race would likely prove far too tempting for Trump not to lob some attacks toward the Democratic frontrunner and her husband. As I noted last year when Rand Paul started crossing into the same territory that Trump has entered, though, bringing up these issues form the past are just as much a double edged sword for Republicans as they are for Democrats, if not more so. References to Bill Clinton’s infidelity, for example, are more likely than not to increase public sympathy for Hillary Clinton than to harm her. Inside the Democratic Party, it’s likely to help her rally base Democrats to her side even more than she already has, and among independents, and especially female voters, it’s likely to make her seem likely a sympathetic figure, thus reviving all the old arguments about the Republican “war on women.” And, of course, there’s also the question of how former President Clinton will act react to attacks from Trump regarding the past. Given his own reputation for being able to play the political give-and-take game, one suspects Bill Clinton wouldn’t take such attacks lying down. This could get quite interesting and entertaining folks.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. humanoid.panda says:

    Your last paragraph is really pertinent: we can pretty much assume that at some point, Trump will say something to the effect of Bill was sleeping around because Hillary is a frigid lesbian hag, and do you want a frigid lesbian hag that can’t serve her husband to be president? At this point, the other candidates will face the option of defending the Hillary beast, or risk losing like 70% of the female vote in the general..

  2. Isn’t this the fourth or fifth time the Hillary campaign has promised that Bill is stepping up his role?

  3. edmondo says:

    He remains the most popular living former President…

    Yeah, now there’s a tough competition. He’s more popular than two guys who couldn’t win a second term and one guy who shouldn’t have. He’s also more popular than root canals.

    Will he be bringing the Bimbos with him as back-up singers or are they appearing separately?

  4. humanoid.panda says:

    @edmondo: Remember guys: Edmond is totally a disillusioned Democrat, and not at all a bored troll!

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In 1977, Trump married model Ivana Zelníčková, a native of the Czech Republic, at Marble Collegiate Church in New York. Together they have three children:
    …..
    By early 1990, Trump’s troubled marriage to Ivana and long-running affair with actress Marla Maples had become widely documented in the tabloid press,[20][196] and the couple divorced in 1991.[197] Trump married Maples on December 21, 1993, two months after the birth of their child, …..They divorced on June 8, 1999.
    …..
    Trump dated model Kara Young in the mid to late 1990s,[200] and reportedly “bombarded” Princess Diana with expensive floral arrangements after her 1996 divorce from Prince Charles.[201]
    …….
    In 1998, Trump met and began courting fashion model Melania Knauss, a native of Slovenia.[203][204] After becoming engaged on April 26, 2004, they were married on January 22, 2005,

    Me thinks Trump had best not talk too much about the Big Dog’s past straying. Bill has been at this a long time and developed a very thick skin. The Donald’s skin is so thin he bleeds at the slightest prick. Beyond that, the Donald is a Democratic dream candidate for the GOP, that Bill would toy with at every turn..

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @edmondo: He’s more popular than one guy who couldn’t win a second term and one guy who couldn’t win a first term and another who beat his opponents both times like a pair of red headed step children.

    Fixed for accuracy. You’ll get my bill in the mail.

  7. Todd says:

    He remains the most popular living former President…

    Which will only serve to highlight the fact that Hillary Clinton does not have Bill’s political skills. I really am starting to get legitimately worried that we could end up with a President Trump, Cruz, or even more likely a President Rubio if he somehow ends up as the last Republican standing.

    … and the icing on the cake is that much like Republicans who refuse to look in a mirror when they lose, many Hillary Clinton Democratic loyalists will try to blame it on Bernie Sanders voters … much as they blamed Nader voters for Gore’s loss 2000, rather than the fact that he was a boring candidate who ran a horrible campaign.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Todd: One small problem with your theory Todd: He won the election. It was the court case he lost, but then again, did he really lose the court case? When I look at the decision closely it seems the turning points were the elections preceding 2000. Those justices couldn’t even stand behind their decision (“not a precedence” I think they said).

  9. Todd says:

    This article is over a year old, but it encapsulates my biggest fear about a Hillary Clinton candidacy, and how she reminds me of Al Gore. She’s already started in on the efforts to “differentiate” herself from President Obama, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to imagine that she would make an effort to not only not enlist President Obama’s help, but to actively try to keep him away from certain places in a General election campaign. We saw how well this worked out for Gore in 2000, and more recently for a number of southern Democratic Senators (Ladrieu, Lincoln, Prior .. and really even McCaskill, one of Clinton’s biggest cheerleaders, only got reelected by the pure luck of drawing Akins as an opponent). I’m not saying that she needs to run as a progressive. But if she makes too much effort to try to appeal to disaffected whites (who are very unlikely to vote for her anyway), at the expense of more reliably Democratic constituencies, she not only risks losing, but also suppressing turnout, and making it harder for Democrats to win in the vitally important, but too oft ignored State and Local races.
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_11/what_hillary_clinton_could_lea053065.php

  10. Todd says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That election never should have been close enough for the possibility of being “stolen” to have even entered the equation.

    While end result certainly could/should have been different had SCOTUS not ruled the way they did, ultimately Gore lost because he made bad strategic campaign decisions … and was not a talented enough politician to overcome some of the unfortunate media memes that painted him in a not so favorable light (I mean damn, he might be “wooden”, but he did invent the Internet and inspire the movie Love Story).

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I think that the Donald is delusional if he believes that anyone who is not a dyed-in-the-wool GOP dittohead really even cares about Bill’s past, but I would caution people against seeing Trump or Cruz as slam dunk opponents for a Hillary victory. If the general political climate of the nation is that Murkuns are afraid of ISIS or terrorism, the GOP is the party that has been traditionally esteemed as the security party for about 20 or 30 years, maybe more. National Security is the wild card at the moment and it’s more of a game changer than we might like to think.

  12. Gustopher says:

    Not sure why she needs to bring Bill out now… I would think he should stay on the sidelines until the Republicans have a candidate.

    Most Americans remember the Clinton era as a nice time before 9/11, when the economy was going good, and our biggest problems were Presidential picadillos. But far right Republicans view him as something akin to a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Usurper, but white. Stick Bill out there, and a lot of them will show themselves to be crazy, hateful, angry, bitter old men (even the young ones!).

    Why do that now? Why not use Bill as a wedge issue to make the Republican candidate choose between pandering to the right or the middle, when it’s too late to swap candidates to someone who can thread that line less awkwardly?

  13. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    This. Add to it Trump’s well-documented thirty-year history of making denigrating remarks about women.They’re either dogs, slobs, or pigs, or they’re “young and beautiful piece[s} of ass.”

    All of it’s out there, just waiting to be made into an ad.

  14. PJ says:

    @Todd:

    much as they blamed Nader voters for Gore’s loss 2000, rather than the fact that he was a boring candidate who ran a horrible campaign.

    That election never should have been close enough for the possibility of being “stolen” to have even entered the equation.

    If half of those who voted for Nader in New Hampshire and Florida had stayed at home and the other half had voted for Gore, Gore would have won, and it wouldn’t have been close. (Even two thirds could have stayed home, New Hampshire would have been close, not that it would have mattered though.) The election would have been nowhere near to steal.

    537 votes differed in Florida, Nader got 97,488.
    7,211 votes differed in New Hampshire, Nader got 22,198.

    Nader, his f*****g ego, and any voter who prefered Gore over Bush but voted for Nader are to blame.

  15. Todd says:

    @PJ:

    Nader, his f*****g ego, and any voter who prefered Gore over Bush but voted for Nader are to blame.

    Bullshit. The Gore campaign is to blame for not persuading the Nader supporters about why they should have voted for him. Now if you want to say that Nader voters made a strategic error in the way they cast their votes, especially if they lived in competitive States, then sure I absolutely agree. But they are in no way “responsible” for Gore losing.

    Same thing we’re already seeing with some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, her campaign, and even the DNC, in their dismissive attitudes towards Sanders supporters. If she ends up being the nominee, she’s going to need ALL Democrats to be enthusiastically behind her … and it will be her campaign’s responsibility to convince those (mostly progressives and Independents) who don’t currently like her to turn out and vote for her anyway. The burden is on her, not the voters … and that’s what worries me … I don’t think she’s up to the task. :-/

  16. edmondo says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    Edmond is totally a disillusioned Democrat, and not at all a bored troll!

    And if you are a Democrat who isn’t disillusioned then you haven’t been paying attention since 2008.

  17. humanoid.panda says:

    @edmondo: So, Bill Clinton and the “bimbos” happened in 2008? Can’t you at least keep track of your own crap?

  18. humanoid.panda says:

    @edmondo: So, Bill Clinton and the “bimbos” happened in 2008? Can’t you at least keep track of your own crap?

  19. humanoid.panda says:

    @Todd:

    Same thing we’re already seeing with some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, her campaign, and even the DNC, in their dismissive attitudes towards Sanders supporters. If she ends up being the nominee, she’s going to need ALL Democrats to be enthusiastically behind her … and it will be her campaign’s responsibility to convince those (mostly progressives and Independents) who don’t currently like her to turn out and vote for her anyway. The burden is on her, not the voters … and that’s what worries me … I don’t think she’s up to the task. :-/

    So far, your reasons for disliking Hillary are that she is
    1. Too boooring.
    2. To remote from Obama.
    3. Too close to Obama and therefore risks losing Sanders voters who think Obama was too much of a compromiser.

    How is she supposed to change your mind?

  20. humanoid.panda says:

    As for this gem (mostly progressives and Independents) who don’t currently like her to turn out and vote for her anyway. The burden is on her, not the voters … and that’s what worries me … I don’t think she’s up to the task.

    In the real world, Hillar’s favor-ability numbers among Democrats are in the 80s and Democrats most likely to dislike her are conservative Democrats (who, I presume, are the kind of Southern yellow dog Democrats who had been voting republican for President for decades now.
    Now, does she have a problem with a certain slice of Sanders voters? Sure. Thing is, nothing is going to change the fact that any candidate likely to get nominated is going to hold positions this slice of voters (with whose policy preferences I largely symphatize) are not going to like, and a record of compromises and lateral moves that a back-bencher from Vermont or a non-electoral activist didn’t have to make (of course, Sanders did make some compromises on stuff that relates to Vermont, whether guns or support for the F-35, but we don’t talk about that…). There is nothing that Hillary can say or do to change that reality. There was nothing that Obama could do in 2012 to make those people like him, or feel like he didn’t betray them six days a week and once on Sunday. That time around, they had enough wisdom and responsibility to understand the stakes. I hope they will do this time around too- but in the end- it’s on them.

  21. Todd says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    So far, your reasons for disliking Hillary are that she is …

    No.

    My reasons for (personally) disliking Hillary Clinton in large part stem from the way her campaign conducted itself in the middle part of the 2008 primary election. It’s been shown that some of the worst myths about President Obama, that to this day persist on the right, actually started as “whispers” from Clinton allies. So there’s that.

    Then the email server thing … which I really honestly don’t care about the underlying issue itself … but the clumsy way that her campaign responded to it makes me fearful that it’s a preview of how she will handle other controversies that are sure to pop up between now and election day. In short, I just don’t think she’s a particularly capable candidate … specifically when it comes to campaigning.

    I very much don’t want a Republican in the White House in 2017.

    That is my primary reason for being so opposed to Hillary Clinton at this point in the process. I honestly believe that having her as the Democratic nominee not only gives Republicans their best chance of getting the White House back, but also likely hurt overall Democratic turnout; thus affecting, Senate, House, State and Local races too.

    I’m not saying Bernie Sanders is anything close to a “perfect” candidate … and truth be told, on many specific issues, my own views are likely closer to Clinton’s than his (I’m kind of a center-left Independent). But on balance, I think he’d be the better general election candidate for the Democrats …. when it comes to improving their positions on all levels, not just the Presidency.

  22. PJ says:

    @Todd: @Todd:
    I would love to hear how Sanders, if he actually got the nomination, would be able to get “ALL Democrats to be enthusiastically behind him”.

  23. Todd says:

    @PJ:

    I would love to hear how Sanders, if he actually got the nomination, would be able to get “ALL Democrats to be enthusiastically behind him”.

    You might be right … perhaps something like PUMA will pop up again if Hillary Clinton fails to get the nomination for a second time. But, while in 2008 they tried to justify it by saying that John McCain would be “tolerable” as President. I seriously doubt any committed Democrat will be able to make the same rationalization about Trump, Cruz, or even Rubio.

    Furthermore, the biggest difference between Clinton and Sanders is that he’s more likely to turn out young voters who can tend to be a bit more fickle about showing up to the polls at all. As I pointed out in my last comment, this will benefit the down ballot races, as well as the Presidential contest … and to me, those are at least as important as the Presidency … to the extent that Conservatives are truly ruining the country, they’re largely doing it most effectively at the State and Local levels.

  24. Todd says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    Democrats most likely to dislike her are conservative Democrats

    Completely anecdotal, I’ll admit up front. But I know a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters who do not like Hillary Clinton. None of them are in the least bit conservative. While most (including me, if push comes to shove) who say they don’t like Hillary Clinton will likely end up grudgingly voting for her anyway, I can’t imagine any of them voting for a Republican instead. Staying home, or voting Green is certainly possible … but voting Republican is not going to happen.

    Where this may be a factor is in the Primaries. I could definitely see some registered southern Democrats, who will almost certainly vote Republican in the general election, voting for Clinton in their primaries to stop the “damn socialist” from getting the nomination.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    Net net, I think it would be a benefit to have trump make semi obscene comments about Bill’s past. The rest of the Republicans will get lumped in with him because they won’t stand against him. And middle aged to elderly white guys will cheer him on to the tune of plus 10% but that’s where they would have been anyway. I suspect the women will be disgusted. It’ll be just one more reason for them to resent the jerks and pull the lever for Hillary.

  26. Todd says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    … but I would caution people against seeing Trump or Cruz as slam dunk opponents for a Hillary victory.

    This too worries me. Democrat’s overconfidence that the Republicans are just too awful to win. I agree that they’re awful, but especially in the case of Trump, I wouldn’t underestimate their ability to convince half of American voters to overlook it.

    While all of the potential Republican nominees are terrible, the two who by conventional wisdom would be the easiest to beat (Trump and Cruz) would also be by far the biggest nightmares were they to actually be elected. Too scary for comfort.

  27. Todd says:

    Shame Bill can’t run again … him (or even if Obama could run for a 3rd term) I’d feel more confident in as the Democratic nominee. Damn 22nd Amendment.

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Todd:

    many Hillary Clinton Democratic loyalists will try to blame it on Bernie Sanders voters … much as they blamed Nader voters for Gore’s loss 2000, rather than the fact that he was a boring candidate who ran a horrible campaign.

    I fail to see the analogy. Nader was a third-party candidate, which by definition can play a “spoiler” role in a general election. Sanders is a candidate running in the Democratic primaries, who presumably won’t even be a factor next November unless he either (1) somehow wins the Democratic nomination (2) launches a third-party bid himself.

    Sure, if Hillary loses next fall there could be a few Dems who try to blame Sanders, but the case will be a lot less compelling than it was for Nader, who by your own admission did draw votes away from Gore. The whole philosophical debate of “it was Nader’s fault for choosing to remain in the race” vs. “it was Gore’s fault for failing to persuade Nader voters” isn’t the point; the point is that there was a clear causal relationship between Nader’s presence on the ballot and Gore’s defeat, whereas there’s no such relationship between a failed primary challenger and the outcome of the general election the following fall.

    A better analogy to Sanders would be Bill Bradley, who not only was the runner-up in the 2000 Democratic race (though he ended up not winning a single primary), but also launched attacks against Gore that were later taken up by Republicans. In particular, he alleged that Gore was being dishonest by claiming to have always supported Roe v. Wade. (The truth was complicated; Gore had been a staunch opponent of federal funding of abortions in the ’80s, and he eventually moved leftward on the issue, which you can interpret as a politically motivated flip flop, though there’s no evidence he ever called for Roe to be overturned.) This charge helped reinforce a broader narrative of Gore as a serial liar or exaggerator, a claim that was largely unfair, but which the media picked up and spread, almost certainly contributing to his defeat.

    During the debates, the press heaped a lot of attention on a trivial misstatement of Gore’s, where he claimed to have visited a Texas fire site with James Lee Witt. (It turned he’d been with another official, and traveled with Witt during a different incident.) They made this error sound like the height of deception, all the while ignoring Bush’s outright lies about policy, such as his false claim to have supported a patient’s bill of rights in Texas.

    I supported Bill Bradley in the 2000 primaries, and in retrospect that may have been a mistake, since he did play a role in damaging Gore in the general elections. I intend to vote for Bernie Sanders, but if I see him launching harsh, unfair personal attacks against Hillary, I’ll probably reconsider.

    In any case, the mainstream media for some reason had an intense dislike for Gore. Their depiction of Bush wasn’t totally flattering–they seemed to view him as something of an amiable dunce–but they gave Bush a pass while they seemed out to destroy Gore. I am not alleging any conspiracy here; it’s clear from the numerous insider accounts of the 2000 race that much of the press corps disliked Gore, and allowed their dislike to filter up to their coverage of him. It would have been bad enough if the coverage was negative but fair; the fact that many of the negative things they said about him were unadulterated BS made it inexcusable. (And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself why so many people still accept the urban legend that Gore claimed to have invented the Internet.)

    Anytime a candidate loses, those who try to bring up factors other than the candidate’s weaknesses will invariably be accused of being sore losers. But the fact is that election outcomes always involve factors beyond a candidate’s control, and even though “blame the media” is a popular reaction to defeat by a candidate’s supporters, the fact is that the press does have responsibilities and often fails them in a way that does influence the outcome. If the media had done its job, Gore would have become president. That doesn’t mean he was a perfect candidate or that he didn’t make mistakes; it does suggest, however, that American voters are more than willing to choose someone boring or uncharismatic, and therefore that those factors are overrated in elections.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    So, let’s see…we have a President who governs like an Eisenhower Republican and is still painted as a evil socialist and, in this environment, in this country, some actually think a real socialist can somehow win a presidential election? Uh-huh…

  30. JKB says:

    A boost in income for truck stop waitresses who will be hired by Trump to hang about events where Bill is campaigning.

    Some potential to backfire as prior to his election in 1992 there was a rape culture surrounding Bill Clinton. Bill’s “infidelity” usually involved coercion and compulsion, at least according to the several women who sued him.

    And as First Lady, Hillary had one job, which she outsourced to an intern.

  31. Todd says:

    @An Interested Party:

    So, let’s see…we have a President who governs like an Eisenhower Republican and is still painted as a evil socialist and, in this environment, in this country, some actually think a real socialist can somehow win a presidential election? Uh-huh…

    Yes.

    Because much like Obamacare, which is unpopular as a package, but whose individual components are quite popular; Bernie Sander’s proposals are are all relatively popular with the American public, even if “socialism” is still used pejoratively by many.

    I would argue that if ANY Democrat is going to be accused of being a socialist anyway, you might as well run someone who actually supports progressive ideas.

    Your comment also highlights a major problem in many Democrat’s thinking. Quit worrying about what the Fox “news” watching crowd thinks. They are NEVER going to vote for a Democrat anyway. Our most recent elections, including the upcoming one in 2016, are not won or lost by changing anybody’s mind, they are all about TURNOUT. Democrats who spend too much time trying not to upset Conservatives, and not enough time trying to excite their own natural base, end up losing (plenty of examples from the past two mid-term elections).

  32. Todd says:

    @Kylopod:

    If the media had done its job, Gore would have become president.

    That too is bullshit.

    You know that famous Harry Truman saying about being President: “The buck stops here.”

    Well the same applies to Presidential candidates. It is their campaign’s responsibility to shape the media narrative. They either find a way to change any negative stereotypes that start to take hold, or they lose. Much like Al Gore, Hillary Clinton is ripe for “unfair” Caricaturization. But she, and her campaign, should know that, and have a plan to counteract it. If the media is “unfair” to Hillary Clinton, and/or “too fair” to her opponent, and she ends up losing, it will be her responsibility … as well as all those Democrats who right now ignore reality and expect that the media will be “fair” Hillary Clinton; or that it won’t really matter.

  33. Todd says:

    In fairness, I will admit to also rolling my eyes at all the Bernie Sanders supporters who are now running around claiming some sort of conspiracy is behind him not getting more favorable media coverage. Same principle. Change the dynamics, or lose.

  34. humanoid.panda says:

    @JKB:

    And as First Lady, Hillary had one job, which she outsourced to an intern.

    The funny thing about people like JKB trying to appropriate feminist language is that that they can’t even wait to the end of their comment to display their contempt for women…

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Quit worrying about what the Fox “news” watching crowd thinks.

    Oh I’m not worried what they think…much more worrisome is how pathetic the MSM will be in pushing back on GOP lies and fear-mongering against Sanders…remember he isn’t as well known as Hillary and how he’s painted by the GOP will leave an impression in the minds of plenty of voters…

  36. bill says:

    @edmondo: i don’t think they sleep in the same bed, and there’s plenty of “liberated women” for him to lay with.

  37. Kylopod says:

    You know that famous Harry Truman saying about being President: “The buck stops here.”

    Well the same applies to Presidential candidates. It is their campaign’s responsibility to shape the media narrative.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t put this any other way: what you just said is completely idiotic!

    “The buck stops here” meant that the president should take responsibility for the consequences of the decisions he makes–nothing more, nothing less. It did not mean that he was responsible for the way the media treated him. Truman himself most definitely did not believe such a thing. Here are some quotes from him:

    “When that message went to Congress, the smear campaign on your President started in all its vile and untruthfully slanted headlines, columns, and editorials.”

    “They couldn’t get the facts otherwise because 90 percent of the press is against me and 90 percent of the radio commentators are against me; and I had to come out and tell you what the facts are.”

    Truman is about the worst example you could have chosen to support your point, because it’s a well-documented fact of history that the press basically ganged up on him in the 1948 election.

    I can hear your objection. “But Truman won the election! Therefore he did shape the media narrative.” No. He won entirely despite the negative media narrative against him. It’s not at all clear the feat would have been possible today, in the age of TV, the Internet, and the 24-hour news cycle. Nowadays, the media is the message; I doubt any candidate could fight that simply with in-person campaign events.

    The philosophy you’re describing isn’t “the buck stops here,” it’s a version of the green lantern theory of the presidency, applied to candidates. Elections aren’t won through the force of a candidate’s personality; that’s a comforting myth in school textbooks, history books, and media narratives, but the truth is that election outcomes are shaped largely by factors beyond any of the candidates’ control. There’s a mountain of research supporting this.

    Obama didn’t win the 2008 election because of his awesome charisma or the historical nature of his candidacy; he won because he was running against a party with a deeply unpopular incumbent president during the worst economic crash since the Depression. Had Hillary been the nominee–and she almost was–she would almost certainly have become president, too. It had nothing to do with their relative strengths or weaknesses as candidates but simply with the underlying conditions.

    Had Obama been the nominee in 2004 rather than 2008, he probably would have lost, and had Kerry been the 2008 nominee he almost surely would have won.

    “How can that be?” you say. “Wasn’t Kerry like a total wuss in confronting the smear campaign against him, while Obama did all that rope-a-dope nine-dimensional chess against his opponents?”

    Not really. I well remember the summer of 2008 when many liberals were wringing their hands over Obama’s perceived reluctance to answer the ruthless GOP attack machine. For that matter, we forget how effective and eloquent John Kerry sometimes was in defending himself and attacking Bush (for example, during the first presidential debate, which he was almost universally regarded as having won).

    The fact is, the stories we tell about elections are largely post-hoc rationalizations where after it’s all over, we proceed to forget all about the winner’s bad moments during the campaign, and the loser’s good moments. Once we’ve erased this information from our mind, we spin it as a tale of the triumph and failure of personalities. This feeds the romantic notion that people have control over their destinies, and as a result, nobody except a few political scientists are willing to accept the unsexy truth that there’s a large degree of luck in election outcomes, and yes, a great deal can turn on his well the media treats each candidate.

  38. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Todd: Understand something about me. What I noted above is not something that “worries” me. I remain fairly convinced that nations fairly consistently get the governments that they deserve, as I noted on another post a few days back. We are merely continuing on a track of what one of my colleagues (recently departed, may he rest in peace) described as “a seemingly endless parade of doofuses, each one more hapless than the previous.” To some degree, Obama reversed the haplessness trend a little, but I find myself a little concerned that the trend is becoming that we vote for the less bad choice, as was noted in the article Dr. Joyner cited.

    If the cost or the public scrutiny or the viciousness or the whatever of political life is keeping genuinely good people from seeking office–and I have no idea if good people have even ever run for office–we may be looking at a future where people say “I wish we still had people like Ted Cruz; there was a public servant.”

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    “We need to show the world that despite the GOP’s war on women, women can stand on their own and win on their own merits. To reinforce that point, here’s my far more successful husband, who has a history of using a female subordinate’s genitalia as his personal humidor.”

    Yeah, that’s a winning argument.

  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    much as they blamed Nader voters for Gore’s loss 2000, rather than the fact that he was a boring candidate who ran a horrible campaign.

    As much as I will agree that Al Gore is the political equivalent of watching paint dry, Nader DID cost him the election. Gore lost Florida by 537 votes, while Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida – the majority of which I will willing to bet a year’s equity payout were drawn from Gore.

    Had Nader not been in the race, it’s likely that Gore – boring as he is – would have won in 2000.

  41. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Shorter Jenos – “I can’t get laid, so I will project my anger on Bill Clinton”…

  42. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Still running with that “rules are for other people,” annie?

    Remember that the people under discussion are human beings. Comments that contain personal attacks about the post author or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned. Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.