During the 1992 campaign, a number of people noted Bill Clinton’s extraordinary luck. Paul Tsongas, the only man to offer him a serious challenge for the Democratic nomination, didn’t demonstrate much of an appeal outside the Northeast. Then-Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, the man who promised to be his most formidable opponent, foundered in New Hampshire (finishing a distant third) and never became a serious threat nationwide.
When the primary campaign moved South, no one could rival the Arkansas Governor on his own turf and he built up a formidable lead.
While spring and summer polls showed him running third behind then-President George H. W. Bush and businessman Ross Perot, that eccentric executive dropped out during the Democratic National Convention, giving an added boost to that party’s nominee. When Pat Buchanan spoke later that summer at the Republican National Convention, going way beyond his allotted time and bumping the Gipper out of prime time, the media focused more on his angry rhetoric than on the actual Republican nominee.
That GOP nominee compounded his problems by running an inept campaign, even looking at his watch during one debate.
Later, after Clinton won the White House, but his party lost Congress, he was able to play off the most visible Republican of the day, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. When that Georgian whined that Clinton made him exit the back door on AIr Force One, the Democratic incumbent turned the tables in budget negotiations with congressional Republicans, setting the stage for his 1996 reelection victory.
Bill Clinton had amazing good fortune in the opponents he drew.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if, by some process of osmosis, his luck has rubbed off on his wife. Just when her opponent seemed to be bouncing back from his loss in the Keystone State, Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor goes on a media tour, showing to the world how seriously radical and apparently unhinged he really is. Americans begin to question more seriously the associations of this relative newcomer to the national political stage.
And Ms. Hillary, as I noted in a previous post Â “is improving in the polls . . . because she is the only Democratic alternative to Obama.”
That ol’ Clinton luck. Both Bill and his wife seem blessed by the opponents they’ve drawn.
Should she manage to wrestle the Democratic nomination from Obama (a question which remains open), let us hope that John McCain emerges as a more formidable foe than have been past Clinton adversaries.