Inside the Mind of Bill Clinton
Yep, I’m feeling pretty good about things. I’m rich, I’m famous, and I get to travel the world, doing whatever I want. Now there’s one more thing I want: A first term in the White House for Hillary, and a third term for me.
It looks like Hillary is going to be unopposed for the 2016 Democratic nomination (forget Biden, Cuomo, or O’Malley). And then she’s going to win 35 or 40 states. Look at the polls. Look at Georgia--a red state if there ever was one. And my dear wife is ahead of every Republican in Georgia except for Chris Christie. And Christie’s only two points ahead.
If Hillary makes the Republicans fight to win Georgia, it’s going to be a landslide against the Republicans in 30 other states. Yes, Christie is a little bit of a threat--if he were to get the nomination. But a party that’s swooning for Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the early states is not likely to end up hitched to a Jersey Boy in ’16.
So I’m going to get my third term in the White House. Finally. For a while there, back in 2000, I kinda sorta wanted Al Gore to win, to carry on our work. But he snubbed me; he didn’t want me to campaign for him in key states. He was offended by my behavior, with Monica and the others. Even inside the White House, Al would give me snide looks, telling me that he and Tipper had such a great marriage. Well, look at him now. Ha! Those two lovebirds are splitsville, and Hill and I have been together--what, almost 40 years now. Yep, four decades of wedded bliss. That’s how we roll.
Back to the 2000 election: I could have carried Arkansas for Al, for sure, and that would have put him over 270 electoral votes right there. Heck, that limp-dick couldn’t even carry his own alleged home state of Tennessee. I’ll bet I could have won that state, too.
Losing that election to Bush 43 put my “third term” plans on hold for a while--a long while. Poor Bush. I like George, of course, because as a matter of policy, I like everybody, but man, you would think that someone of our generation--we were born six weeks apart in ’46---would have been smart enough not to do another Vietnam.
Yes, in many ways, W. was following through on policies that I put in place; I signed the Iraq Liberation Act in ’98--but of course, I didn’t mean it. I wasn’t about to become another LBJ, waist-deep in some foreign quagmire. I learned that from my mentor Bill Fulbright, who voted for the war at first and regretted it the rest of his life. If George hadn’t been so drunk or stoned during the Vietnam years, he would have had the memory--and the smarts--not to believe his advisers when they told him that Iraq would be a “cakewalk.”
Yes, yes, I know, when Hillary was in the Senate, she voted with Bush on the war in ’03, and I was for that--but no need to dwell on that now. Although that “yea” vote probably cost her the nomination in ’08 when Obama ran to her left, as the “peace candidate.”
Ah yes, Barack the Nobel Peace Prize winner--who took his gold medal, put it on a shelf, and then got busy droning people to death.
But what about me? Nobody even remembers the peace treaty I worked out in 1994 between King Hussein of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel. And I worked like a dog, too, trying to get a peace deal between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat in 2000, and while it didn’t come through, there was something to work on. And then Obama comes along and wins the Peace Prize before he lifts a finger. Take it from a Democrat: I know affirmative action when I see it.
As I said, as a matter of policy, I like everybody, but Barack is a challenge sometimes. First of all, I don’t think he likes me, and I know Michelle doesn’t like me. She has the meanest smile I’ve ever seen. Well, I guess I’d be angry, too, as she watches her husband’s presidency shrink down to Millard Fillmore-ness.
Meanwhile, I’ve been cultivating the Bush family since the day I beat Bush 41 back in ’92. Indeed, 41 loves me. And Barbara, his wife, really loves me. When I told her that 41 was like the father I never had, well, she just melted. Heh heh. The old bit-lip/misty-eyed thing may be a cliche about me, but it always works.
Now Barbara is telling Jeb not to run in ’16, so as not to cause “a scene” between the Bushes and the Clintons. That’s right: Be a good boy, Jeb, and do what you mother says.
And now I see that young Barbara Bush, 43’s daughter, wants Hillary to run. Pretty good, huh? Of course, Chelsea’s been workin’ it; she can provide any lost young Republican good access to bicoastal high society. It’s a safe bet that the young Bushes would rather hang at the Hamptons with Geffen and Spielberg than go to Tea Party rallies.
Yep, I’ll have the whole damn Establishment on Hillary’s side by the time this is over. I mean, let’s ask ourselves: Now that the Republican grassroots are repudiating No Child Left Behind, and Core Curriculum education, and anything else that sounds like “compassionate conservatism,” the ‘wingers are, in effect, repudiating the entire work of 41, 43, and Jeb. So what are the chances that either Barbara Bush--the grandmother or the granddaughter--would feel closer to the Republican base than to Hillary? I know the answer: zero.
I don’t expect any Bush to endorse Hill in ’16, but various Bushes will be damning the Republican nominee with faint praise--that I do expect.
What neither the Bushes or the Obamas realize, of course, is that the Hillary message is that it’s time for a change--away from both of those failed presidents.
Yep, it’s time for a change--back to the future. Back to the good old days of the 90s. The Dow went from 3242 on the day I was inaugurated, in ’93, to 10588 on the day I left office in ‘01. No other President--not Reagan, not anybody--oversaw that kind of surge in the market. 7346 points up on the Dow--wow.
I was the best president Wall Street ever had, and Silicon Valley, too. And Wall Street and Silicon Valley are American capitalism, right? I mean, is there anything else? Not really. We Democrats are now the Davos Party, even as we keep our base with minorities. We’ve got the high and the low, and enough of the middle. That’s our coalition, and it’s a proven winner.
In fact, my message to Democrats on behalf of Hillary is even stronger now: I’ve been among the billionaires, here in the private sector, for the past 13 years, and when they talk, I listen carefully and nod respectfully. Yes, money does talk--loud. You could even say, heh heh, that I feel their pain.
But I know something that the Republicans don’t: Their pain isn’t really about taxes--because none of them really pay much in taxes. Mitt Romney and all his overseas bank accounts blew the lid off of that little secret during the 2012--the secret that while the top income tax rate may matter to some guy making $300,000 a year, it doesn’t matter to someone making $30 million a year.
Do I think billionaires should pay their fair share of taxes? Sure I do. But I also think that billionaires shouldn’t pay more than they should. So what does that mean? It means just what I said that it means. And of course, if a billionaire gives to the Clinton Foundation, or hires Teneo, then it’s obvious that they deserve to be rewarded for their vision, and for their shrewdness.
Those dumb Republicans. They think that they can appeal to fatcats with tax rate reductions.
Look, I know half the billionaires in America--and I make it a point to try to know them all--and I can tell you, that when they want to talk issues, they have a lot on their mind, other than taxes. For example, they talk about a women’s right to choose--very important if you’re knocking up secretaries and stewardesses. Or they want to talk about gay rights, or global warming, or education, or poverty, or whatever.
Maybe they’re just guilt-ridden about their wealth, and so they want to get rid of some of their money--not all of it, just some--and have a nice time doing it. If so, then the Clinton Foundation can help. You give us money, and you have a nice time. You get “The Treatment.”
So my argument--I mean Hillary’s and my argument--is that if you elect Hill in ’16, you’ll get the good times back. I know business, or at least business leaders, and so the Clinton administration (I like the sound of that) will do fine by them. Some might call that “crony capitalism”--like that’s a bad thing. Well, they should come down to Little Rock, where we simply called it “doing business.” It’s reality, man. And it’s been good to me.
Is the same approach working on the national level? Sure it is. And just wait till you see how much money we raise for the ’16 campaign. Bundlers, super PACs, independent expenditures--whatever it takes.
Yes, there was that tough article in The New York Times on the Clinton Foundation--the one headlined, “Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions.” That hit some sore spots, sure, and so we responded.
Anybody who knows me, or who knows how my White House operated, knows that we are never perfect when it comes to money.
But here’s what nobody realizes: We wanted that Times article to come out. The, uh, tangy details were going to emerge sooner or later. So better sooner, in August, when everybody’s at the beach, three years ahead of the election. And of course, the article carefully noted that we have a new CEO installed.Thus the bad old days are behind us. As we always said in the late 90s, it’s time to “move on.”
So now, a couple of years from now, when somebody raises the issue of the Clinton Foundation during the campaign, we can say, “That’s old news.”
Yes, it’s an old tactic, but it works. I can remember during the 90s, when I was being investigated over Whitewater, I had Lanny Davis, my reliable flack, take care of it for me. His standard schtick: Whatever the news was, it was old news. One time, during those hearings, when Fred Thompson or Al D’Amato was going to announce something, Lanny actually went to the Senate press gallery and handed out copies of an old news clip that reported on the same kind of thing. Not the exact same thing, but close enough. He’d put a copy of the clip in each reporter’s hand, or on their chairs. So when Thompson or D’Amato were making whatever allegation they were making, reporters would all be thinking to themselves, “This is old news. Why are we supposed to think this is a big deal?
Only these days, we affectionately call it “BenSmithing” as in Ben Smith, the former writer for Politico, now at...uh...what’s the name of that site? Senior moment, I guess. It’s the one with the slideshows of kittens. Anyway, wherever he is now, Ben is famous for running “scoops” that look bad for us at first, but are really good, because a) they aren’t that bad, and b) they preempt something that really could be nasty.
Good ol’ Ben--he’ll get nothing but scoops when Hillary runs.
Meanwhile, I see on Sunday that Maureen Dowd of the Times has written a typically snarky column attacking me, Hillary, and the Clinton Foundation. She writes, “If Americans are worried about money in politics, there is no larger concern than the Clintons, who are cosseted in a world where rich people endlessly scratch the backs of rich people.” Well, that wasn’t very nice.
But then, Dowd has never liked me. Way back when, in the 80s, she had kind of a crush on Bush 41. An Irish girl from the working class, looking up longingly at the WASP county-clubber--that was her. Meanwhile, because she was always kinda ugly and beaky looking, I never gave her the time of day. And so now, 20 years later, as payback, I have to put up with crap like this from her.
Fortunately, “MoDo” has lost her mojo, column-wise--she’s an old prune now. I’ll find plenty of friends in the media to take a whack at her, how she’s doing the right-wing’s dirty work. And once again, there’s the “old news” point. When someone tries to bring up the Foundation issue in the future, we’ll be able to say, “Not only did the Times’ news run a huge investigative piece back in ’13--all the questions in which we answered--but we also got whacked by Maureen Dowd. Mr. and Ms. Reporter in 2016: Don’t waste your time on this story. It’s already been fully aired.”
So enough on Dowd. She’s an old prune peddling old news. Big deal. I can’t let her get me riled up. When I get red-faced with anger, that’s when I say something stupid.
Yes, run, Hillary, run. The old girl is tough as boot-leather, but she’s not me, and she knows it. Whenever I need to remind her of her limitations on judgment, I just say two words, “Huma Abedin,” and she is reminded that she doesn’t know people like I know people. So there’s no chance that Hill will let her little coven of witches freeze me out, much as they’d like to. When she’s in the White House as the 45th president, I’ll be right there with her--except, of course, when I’m not.
In the meantime, it’s great to watch the Republicans shrivel up. At the national level, they’ve gone from the majority Eisenhower-Nixon-Reagan “lock” on the electoral college to a lock on, well, the Cotton States plus Idaho.
Yet once again I don’t get proper credit for breaking that Republican lock on the electoral college. When I ran in ’92, the GOP had won seven of the previous ten presidential elections, usually in landslides. Then I came along, talking about welfare reform, the middle class, and all that jazz. It worked. I was the first Democrat to win California in 28 years. And whereas the GOP had swept the South in three elections in a row, in ’92 and ’96 I won five Southern states.
Republicans have never recovered. As I said, they have gone from winning seven out of ten through 1988 to losing four of out six since 1992--and five out of six, if you count the popular vote.
So sure, the Republicans will raise a billion dollars, or maybe two billion. But there’s a double-edged sword there: The price of all that fundraising will be that the professional Hillary Haters will be prominent. And in all their fury and venom, they are guaranteed to say something stupid, and our friends in the MSM, of course, will never think that any anti-Hillary quote is “old news.”
And so we’ll pin that anti-Hillary quote, whatever it is, on the Republican nominee, whoever he is, and so Hillary will ride the feminist backlash into the White House.
So I say, bring ‘em on. Raise whatever you want, and we’ll judo you, using your weight against you.
Besides, we’ll raise more, and use that money to make it a race even in base GOP states such as Georgia. And in the meantime, of course, Hillary will lock away a comfortable electoral majority in places Republicans won’t even contest, like California, Illinois, Michigan, and New York. We call that the Clinton Lock. And it’s a solid clinch.
Yep, Hillary is going to win 35 or 40 states, and I am going to get my third term. Life is good. Damn good.