Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Two Bills (Clinton and Richardson)

Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle report on Bill Clinton's "meltdown" at a private meeting with superdelegates during the California state convention last weekend. "Bill Clinton's tirade stunned some delegates":

"It was one of the worst political meetings I have ever attended," one superdelegate said.

According to those at the meeting, Clinton - who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes - was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage.

But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how "sorry" she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a "Judas" for backing Obama.

It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade.

"Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that," a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.

The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media's unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out.

"It was very, very intense," said one attendee. "Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns.

When delegate Binah - still stunned from her encounter with Clinton - got home to Little River (Mendocino County) later in the day - there was a phone message waiting for her from State Party Chairman Art Torres, telling her the former president wanted him to apologize to her on his behalf for what happened.

Still, word of Clinton's blast shot all the way back to the New Mexico state Capitol, where Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley reiterated Tuesday that his boss had never "promised or guaranteed" Bill and Hillary his endorsement.
In happier times? The two Bills watch the Super Bowl together on February 3, 2008.

Yesterday, just two days after Clinton's tirade, Bill Richardson published an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, entitled "Loyalty to My Country":
My recent endorsement of Barack Obama for president has been the subject of much discussion and consternation -- particularly among supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Led by political commentator James Carville, who makes a living by being confrontational and provocative, Clinton supporters have speculated about events surrounding this endorsement and engaged in personal attacks and insults.

While I certainly will not stoop to the low level of Mr. Carville, I feel compelled to defend myself against character assassination and baseless allegations.

Carville has made it very clear that this is a personal attack -- driven by his own sense of what constitutes loyalty. It is this kind of political venom that I anticipated from certain Clinton supporters and I campaigned against in my own run for president.

I repeatedly urged Democrats to stop attacking each other personally and even offered a DNC resolution calling for a positive campaign based on the issues. I was evenhanded in my efforts. In fact, my intervention in a debate during a particularly heated exchange was seen by numerous commentators as an attempt to defend Sen. Clinton against the barbs of Sens. Obama and John Edwards.

As I have pointed out many times, and most pointedly when I endorsed Sen. Obama, the campaign has been too negative, and we Democrats need to calm the rhetoric and personal attacks so we can come together as a party to defeat the Republicans.

More than anything, to repair the damage done at home and abroad, we must unite as a country. I endorsed Sen. Obama because I believe he has the judgment, temperament and background to bridge our divisions as a nation and make America strong at home and respected in the world again.

This was a difficult, even painful, decision. My affection and respect for the Clintons run deep. I do indeed owe President Clinton for the extraordinary opportunities he gave me to serve him and this country. And nobody worked harder for him or served him more loyally, during some very difficult times, than I did.

Carville and others say that I owe President Clinton's wife my endorsement because he gave me two jobs. Would someone who worked for Carville then owe his wife, Mary Matalin, similar loyalty in her professional pursuits? Do the people now attacking me recall that I ran for president, albeit unsuccessfully, against Sen. Clinton? Was that also an act of disloyalty?

And while I was truly torn for weeks about this decision, and seriously contemplated endorsing Sen. Clinton, I never told anyone, including President Clinton, that I would do so. Those who say I did are misinformed or worse.

As for Mr. Carville's assertions that I did not return President Clinton's calls: I was on vacation in Antigua with my wife for a week and did not receive notice of any calls from the president. I, of course, called Sen. Clinton prior to my endorsement of Sen. Obama. It was a difficult and heated discussion, the details of which I will not share here.

I do not believe that the truth will keep Carville and others from attacking me. I can only say that we need to move on from the politics of personal insult and attacks. That era, personified by Carville and his ilk, has passed and I believe we must end the rancor and partisanship that has mired Washington in gridlock. In my view, Sen. Obama represents our best hope of replacing division with unity. That is why, out of loyalty to my country, I endorse him for president.


crystal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crystal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cowboyangel said...

Crystal, I don't mind you challenging me on what I write! Even if I were to get mad (I didn't), that would be okay, too. I don't expect and even want you to agree with me on things.

More than anything, I would like to hold a civilized discussion about some of these issues. Unfortunately, tempers are running high among fellow Democrats right now. And that does concern me. I agree with Richardson that "we Democrats need to calm the rhetoric and personal attacks so we can come together as a party to defeat the Republicans." Even if I'm not, technically, a Democrat.

You ask fair questions.

1) I thought I had written on the blog about the difference between Edwards and Clinton on Iraq, but I'm not sure. Yes, they both voted for the war, and I was furious at both of them for doing so, as I was with several other Democrats, including Kerry. Chuck Hagel also voted for the war. But I think there are two big differences between Hillary (and Lieberman) and Edwards (and Hagel.) And I speak as someone who organized events against the war for several months and attended several protests. I don't think my perception on this is that different from others who were realy against the war.

First, Hillary Clinton was probably the most public figure on the side of the Democrats, along with Lieberman and Kennedy. Kennedy was against the war. No one was surprised that Liberman was for it - I mean, he's not even a Democrat any more. It was a huge blow to the anti-war movement to have Hillary Clinton siding with Bush on the war. It doesn't compare with Edwards, who few people even knew at that point.

Secondly, and more importantly, Edwards, as well as Hagel on the Republican side, realized pretty quickly the mistake they had made. They not only apologized for voting for it but began to speak out against it. In the 2004 election, Edwards was already openly against the war. When he and Kerry tried to make an issue of it in the campaign, you had Hillary and Lieberman going against their own party in a general election by continuing to side with Bush and Cheney. That was terribly damaging, if you ask me. How could the Dems really make Iraq the pivotal issue it should've been when two of its most public figures were supporting the war against the candidate running for president. And it didn't stop there for Hillary. At one point, in 2005, there was a poll that said that 80% of Democrats were now against the war. Hillary? She STILL continued to support Bush and Cheney. In the end, she simply crossed a line in the sand. And I think many other anti-war Democrats will say the same thing.

You have to understand, Crystal, for those of us who organized events and protested to stop this insane war, Hillary Clinton wasn't on our side. She worked against us. And do you realize how incredibly insulting it is to have someone like that then try to convince you that she really was on our side? Does she really think we're that stupid to already have forgotten what she did? That's how I feel when she talks about the war. She and Bill think I'm so incredibly stupid that I will forget what they did. When my friends and I were freezing our asses off on February 15, 2003, marching with millions of people around the world, being herded into pens by the New York City police, where was she? How would I and my friends forget that? She was to many anti-war people WORSE than Bush and Cheney, because she was supposed to be on our side. Talk about traitors! I knew back then that she would have trouble getting past the primaries. The fury at her among most of my Liberal friends was palpable. That doesn't go away very quickly.

Only when she began to get serious about running for President, and when it was so incredibly obvious that the war had been a mistake, did she finally begin to really criticize it. But she waited way too long. So, yes, Edwards and Kerry and Hagel deserve hell for voting for it. But I just don't think you can compare how they handled it with what Hillary Clinton did.

As far as Carville calling Richardson "Judas," I didn't have a problem with that. And I didn't have a problem with him not apologizing. I said this in a post last week. Nor did I have a problem with Samantha Powers calling Hillary a monster. If the race is going to degenerate into name-calling, then let us call each other names and get it over with. But I don't think people should apologize or resign for it.

In my mind, yes, electing Hillary Clinton would mean electing Bill Clinton as well. Don't you? They do. They're the ones who started the "you get 2 for the price of 1" idea back when Bill ran in 1992. What's the difference now? Do you see Bill Clinton hanging out on the porch in Chappaqua, whittling sticks while Hillary runs the country? There are few people in this world who strike me as being as addicted to power as Bill Clinton. It would be as much his administration as hers.

What I would like to know, is how would people perceive Hillary Clinton in this campaign if she had divorced Bill? Personally, I don't think there would be as much antagonism against her, but that's just a theory. But while she gets all the instant front-runner status, the huge donors, the Democratic establishment blessing, and tons of media coverage for being the wife of a former president, she also gets the baggage - and it's pretty heavy baggage.

TV de Plasma said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the TV de Plasma, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.