Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dynasty














(Bill and Hillary, if you couldn't tell)


Previously, I've found the hoo-ha in the media over dynastic politics overwrought. Nevertheless, like most other watchers of the political scene, I feel that Bill Clinton's repeated aggressive forays into the presidential race are a bit unseemly. To begin with, acting like an attack dog for a presidential candidate seems rather beneath the dignity of a former president. The best comment I've heard about this was on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me. One of the panelists remarked "It's like students who have graduated high-school, but come back just to hang-out."

Josh Marshall writes about why we have this aversion to this heavy-handed meddling by a former president.
I'm sure there's a complicated mix of loyalty, love, sense that he owes her, probably the sense that she'd be a great president. But here's the thing. Back during impeachment folks like me made the point -- and I think it was the right one -- that Bill Clinton's obligations to his wife, to his marriage to sexual fidelity and so forth were an issue between him and his wife. He had a different set of obligations and responsibilities to his supporters and to the larger public. And it was the latter that concerned me.

I think something similar applies in this case. I respect all the loyalties and devotions between the two of them in what is clearly a very complicated but also very enduring relationship. But I'm not part of that marriage. Its obligations aren't any concern of mine and they have no claim on me. My relationship with Bill Clinton is as a member of the party that he is, as I've said, the leader of or at least the most revered elder statesman of. And I feel like he's violating the compact that I have with him.

Noam Schreiber argues even more strongly that if Bill Clinton couldn't stay out, they both should have.

I'm going to agree with them. Bill Clinton is technically a private citizen, but he is a powerful voice within the Democratic Party. His advocating on Hillary's does indeed make this look like a restoration, and by extension makes Hillary look like Cristina de Kirchner or Isabel Peron.



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