2.01.2004

POLITICS - Slick Willy 2.0

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., author of the new book Madame Hillary: The Dark Road To The White House, declares that the Clintons are responsible for the doom of the Dean campaign in a new WSJ editorial.

First, I do agree with him on a key point that echoes something that I said here. Tyrrell says:.
"To understand the 2004 presidential campaign we must bear in mind that there are actually two campaigns going on. The first appears to be a campaign among Democrats for the party's presidential nomination. Actually, as is becoming clearer every day, it is a campaign for control of the party for years to come; and that the Clintons are waging it is increasingly apparent.

The second campaign is a historic struggle between the two factions of the 1960s generation--once known as the young right and the young radicals--to claim that generation's identity once and for all. That explains the Democratic contenders' already active vituperation of President Bush, who never joined with fellow Yalies Howard Dean or Sen. Kerry in the peace demonstrations."

The second campaign dynamic is more active in this race than 2000. I think that some of the Dem candidates can work this dynamic to their potential, and some can not. Lieberman can't, I'm not sure if Edwards is old enough, and I don't know if Clark has any pull with the former flower cadets. Kerry and Dean can tap this potential, but they coming from completely different directions.

But let's go back to this WSJ editorial, where the Clintons are covertly manipulating the Dem primaries.
Al Gore, the Democrats' martyred 2000 candidate, should have been in control of all this, but for whatever reason he could not put it together. The retired president and his wife did, and when they saw a political unknown stumping across America, bringing in millions of new dollars and thousands of new supporters on the Internet, they felt the ground quake. They urged the New Democrat, Mr. Edwards, into the race and the smooth--though accident-prone--Mr. Clark. When Mr. Dean hissed at the Clinton's majordomo, Mr. McAuliffe, they knew they had to take action.

Basically the Right says that the Clintons, of course, could not accept a Dean nomination because it would hurt the chances of a Hilary run in '08. I don't want to say that this is "tin foil hat" territory, because it is certainly within the realm of possibility. However, I think that there is a case to be made for the mainstream Dems who rejected Dean, and that the Clinton apparatus wants to represent the center of the party. That was Bill's main base for eight years, and the nudge against an outspoken "outsider" candidate like Dean shouldn't be much of a surprise.

But I tire of this criticism of the Clinton's continuing influence on the political spectrum. Let's be honest. People like Karl Rove and Grover Nordquist are building a conservative infrastructure in America. The Republicans haven't been pushing redistricting for nothing. They are making a huge power grab, too. But let's continue to be honest. The Republicans don't have experience with successful retired GOP presidents. They don't elect influential presidents.

- George H. Bush : Irrelevant to the mainstream political system. His impotence is a continuation of his roles in the CIA and the White House.

- Ronald Reagan: His memory turned into swiss cheese before his term was over. While he is still remembered warmly by many, he has absolutely no influence in our contemporary political system.

- Gerald Ford - He wasn't even elected to the White House. He's been about as active as George H. Bush, but he supports gay rights. No wonder he doesn't do much stumping for Bush.

- Richard Nixon - He's dead, but probably has as much influence on the GOP as the last three Repub Presidents.

Bush II definitely won't become a statesman after his final term, and will head back to the ranch for prayer meetings. It seems like Bill has a passion for the process that isn't shared by former GOP presidents, and I don't find any fault in him for it. The right's passive infatuation with the Clinton's comes out in Tyrrell's final paragraph:
(Kerry) may be limping in after still more primary battles. Then Hillary will make her grand entrance. With Mr. McAuliffe smiling from the podium her power will be vast. Possibly she will allow herself to be nominated to the No. 2 spot to assist her party in its moment of peril. Either way, Hillary and her husband will remain the Democratic powerbrokers for 2008. Or possibly just the powers.

Isn't this what the GOP really wants? Surely the Republicans could win in a landslide against a Hillary campaign. I mean, there's no way that the majority would vote for that ticket, right?

I think that Hillary's political future is somewhat hinged on Guiliani's next move. If Guiliani runs as Bush's VP, then Hillary might consider just staying where she's at. If he decides to run against her seat, she may sense a hard fight and take her chance as a VP. That, of course, hinges on the question of whether Kerry, Dean, or Clark would choose her as 2nd chair. Seems quite unlikely from Dean. Clark is a possibility, but I doubt that she'd be Kerry's first pick.

I could be wearing a tin foil hat of my own, but this sounds like a subtle attack against the surging Kerry campaign. This election will be decided by moderate voters, and that's why the GOP would like to run against Dean. Kerry, however, seems to have considerable appeal with the moderate Dems. Karl Rove has to make sure that moderate Repubs and Independents stay away from Kerry, and the spector of the Clintons is the perfect remedy.

So I think that you'll be hearing this from the fringes of the right media. Even if Hillary isn't chosen as the VP in '08 and the Dem is elected, we'll be warned of a possible VP switch for the 2008 ticket. "A vote for Kerry is a vote for an eventual Clinton ticket". "Don't vote Dem, because Slick Willy is just waiting to pull the 'ol switcheroo in '08."

It's a dirty tactic, but I do have to admire it for it's 'strategery'. If I was on the Right, I'd probably start spreading it myself.

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