I believe one reason Barack Obama tapped Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State in large part to buy her husband’s silence.
As the most popular Democrat in the country until Obama came along, Bill Clinton could give “blue dog” Democrats cover should he ever even hint that he opposed one of the President’s initiatives, particularly those undermining his own legacy (like the provisions in the “stimulus” weakening the landmark welfare reform he signed in 1996). But, with Bill’s wife in the cabinet, Obama effectively tied that Democrat’s tongue. Not an easy task. And a politically shrewd move.
Somewhere deep down, Clinton may well resent Obama. The incumbent, unlike his Democratic predecessor, actually won a majority of the popular vote. Not just that, Obama deprived him of his position as de facto head of their party, a position he “held” from April 7, 1992 (when he easily won the New York Democratic primary) until January 3, 2008 when Obama won the Iowa caucuses, a run of nearly sixteen years.
Few outgoing presidents succeed in getting their man elected a Chair of their party, but Clinton helped his friend and fundraiser Terry McAuliffe win election as head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) right after he left office. While Clinton’s power was beginning to wane soon after Bush’s reelection in 2004, his standing helped ensure his wife’s status as frontrunner for their party’s nomination.
That began to fade with the emergence of Obama. Now, Jennifer Rubin wonders if the 42nd President no longer a crowd magnet.Campaigning in Virginia for the aforementioned McAuliffe (now running for Governor of the Old Dominion), he drew a “surprisingly small crowd.” Clinton may not be the draw he once was, but he was the figurehead of his party for longer perhaps than any other.
Time will tell if his fading fortunes will help or hurt the Democratic Party. Will its swift shift to the left over the past few years prevent Democrats from securing the gains of the past two elections? Or has America turned to the left since Clinton’s heyday?
Polls show Americans still uncomfortable with the big government, the era of which Clinton called to a close. But, while Republicans have been showing some signs of life lately, they still need to develop a strategy to respond to the growing discontent with the return of big government.