Bill Clinton Panders to Old Voters, Fondly Recalls His Own Legacy

Bill Clinton Panders to Old Voters, Fondly Recalls His Own Legacy The Boston Globe is running a piece headlined “Bill Clinton: Older voters too savvy to fall for Obama” by political reporter Scott Helman. Neither the headline nor Helman’s lede, however, are fair readings of what Clinton actually said — as quoted in the story.

Older voters gravitate to Hillary Clinton because they’re too wise to be fooled by Barack Obama’s rhetoric, former president Bill Clinton told Pennsylvania voters today.

Clinton’s comments, to a packed high school gym about an hour north of Philadelphia, were one part presidential politics and one part legacy protection. His beef was with Obama’s contention that many of the problems facing the country today were simmering long before President Bush took office seven-plus years ago.

“I think there is a big reason there’s an age difference in a lot of these polls,” he said. “Because once you’ve reached a certain age, you won’t sit there and listen to somebody tell you there’s really no difference between what happened in the Bush years and the Clinton years; that there’s not much difference in how small-town Pennsylvania fared when I was president, and in this decade.” “So I think it’s important that we get to the truth of this,” Clinton continued, going on to compare his and Bush’s record on jobs, family incomes, and other measures.

He’s not saying that old people are wise, merely that they’re old enough to remember the 1990s. Or, as Ed Morrissey quips, “younger voters are saps for a younger, charismatic liar. And he should know.”

Regardless, there’s more than a little chutzpah in Clinton’s pronouncement here. Everything, always, is about him.

Moreover, as Taylor Owen points out, Clinton himself seems to have forgotten the 1990s given that, “in 1992, Clinton was running a VERY similar campaign to Obama. Had Hillary been in the race, there is no doubt that he would be have mocked her as the establishment candidate. He would have been right, and he would have won. He would have done so using words, which he was at one point pretty good at. And he would have argued that a new generation was ready to have a turn in Washington.”

Indeed, Clinton was even younger then than Obama is now. To be fair, he was also more experienced at executive leadership. But the appeal was the same: charisma, charm, and hope triumphed service and Washington experience.

Photo credit: Scott Koenig

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, General, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DaveD says:

    “Because once you’ve reached a certain age, you won’t sit there and listen to somebody tell you there’s really no difference between what happened in the Bush years and the Clinton years….”

    I think that is the problem with a senile baby boomer such as myself. I can’t remember anything significant that did happen during the Clinton years that was actually due to Clinton himself. Well, except for that one thing.

  2. Elmo says:

    When a winning thoroughbred race horse’s track career ended, and he was sent to a farm. He quickly learned to appreciate where and when he might be headed, on any given day. As in instantly recognizing the breeding shed.

    For some reason Jimmy was never put out to pasture (though of course he can still lust in his heart). And Bill just ain’t gunna give up the spotlight for nothing (though he might skip a day if he stumbled over a map to the shed).

    He’s a politician.

  3. rodney dill says:

    …Fondly Recalls His Own Legacy

    Man, that stain must’ve been something.