Jewish World Review Oct. 6, 2010 28 Tishrei, 5771
Obama Should Turn Deaf Ear to Bill Clinton
By Roger Simon
The media are nervous. Have they gone too far in counting the Democrats out come Nov. 2? Has Barack Obama been given his walking papers too soon?
It was inevitable with the midterm congressional elections less than a month away, the story line would start moving back just a little.
Newsweek, Friday: "Simply put, in the NEWSWEEK Poll, voters said they trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle pretty much every problem currently facing the country."
New York Times, Saturday: "Republicans carry substantial advantages as they move into the final month of the fall campaign, but the resilience of vulnerable Democrats is complicating Republican efforts to lock down enough seats to capture the House and take control of the unsettled electoral battleground."
Christian Science Monitor, Sunday: "Polls tighten as elections approach. Good news for Democrats? Maybe."
Politico, Monday: "Once-despondent Democrats now believe that they may be able to avert a total midterm wipeout, as several important states now appear to be trending in their direction or growing more competitive."
This may, of course, be simply a reflection of reality. Stories change because reality changes. That is the thing about pendulums: They swing back and forth. One week, Obama is dog meat — "They talk about me like a dog," Obama said at Labor Day rally in Milwaukee — and the next week, he is prime rib.
After all, what did the guy do so wrong? He prevented a global economic collapse, he reformed the financial industry, he saved the auto industry, and he passed historic health care legislation. He has not yet walked on water, but he has to save something for after the midterms.
So what's the problem? Ask a conservative, and you are told that he is a socialist. Ask a liberal, and you are told that he didn't close Guantanamo. Ask an independent, and you are told we still have man's inhumanity toward man.
Gimme a break.
But presidents don't get breaks. They can't please everybody. Sometimes they can't please anybody.
So in their desperation, Democrats have turned to a Messiah figure, someone who will save them. He even has experience as a Messiah, having undergone one of the most incredible resurrections in the history of modern politics.
Bill Clinton has gone from an impeached serial liar and philanderer to the most popular American political figure alive today. (Admittedly, the competition is not fierce.) According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton has a 55-23 favorable/unfavorable rating, compared with Barack Obama's 46-49 approval/disapproval rating of his job performance.
Why is Clinton looked upon so fondly? Chiefly, he is no longer in the political meat grinder. People are not attacking him every day or searching for his birth certificate. Second, his image is no longer chiefly political, but philanthropic. He labors tirelessly to eradicate poverty and disease, to increase women's rights and improve the environment.
Third, while still a Democrat, he is seen more and more as bipartisan, raising relief funds with George H.W. Bush for global calamities.
Fourth, the guy is still a charmer. He could sell snow cones in Antarctica. And now he is going around the country selling Democratic candidates to voters, even though in his first midterm election as president, he calamitously lost both houses of Congress.
So what is Clinton really up to? Part of it, I think, is payback. There is no great love between Clinton and Obama, Bill still believing that Obama unfairly played the race card to defeat Hillary for the Democratic presidential nomination.
You can hear the revenge in Clinton's recent interview with Politico, when he was asked what Obama can now do. "Embrace people's anger, including their disappointment at you," Clinton said. "And just ask 'em to not let the anger cloud their judgment. Let it concentrate their judgment. And then make your case."
In other words, people's "anger" and "disappointment" with Obama is rational and legitimate, and what Obama needs to do is "embrace" it.
From Obama's point of view, however, he has been doing a good job during tough times, and if it weren't for high unemployment — which is largely not his fault — he would be far more popular.
At a huge rally last week in Madison, Wis., Obama gave a rip-roaring speech, reminiscent of the "old days" of his 2008 campaign. And he talked about those golden, star-dusted times.
"I know sometimes it feels a long way from the hope and excitement that we felt on Election Day or the day of the inauguration," he said. "But I've got to say, we always knew this was going to take time. We always knew this was going to be hard."
"This election is not about what we've done," Obama went on. "It's about the work we have left to do."
And it's not about Obama embracing "anger" and "disappointment," it's about Obama combating anger and disappointment with the truth.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate