The Conversation

The Clintons Want the Weiners Off the Stage

ABC News reported Monday that the Clintons "increasingly see Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign as an embarrassment and potential liability, and are signaling through associates that they are eager to see him exit the race."

One anonymous source tells ABC the Clintons are "bristling" at comparisons between Bill and Anthony and between Hillary and Huma. But those comparisons are based in the real similarity in the statements made by the two power couples. For instance, Huma's recent expression of support for her husband sounds remarkably like the one Hillary gave back in 1992.

And for his part, Anthony Weiner seems to have borrowed some of his best lines from Bill Clinton.

Having re-watched the Clinton's appearance on 60 Minutes, what is different is how skillfully the Clintons--and Bill especially--handled his problem. While Anthony Weiner struggles to frame his thoughts and speaks in ever widening circles, Bill Clinton appears relaxed and confident, able to take the conversation in any direction at any moment and express himself convincingly.

In fact, Bill is such a skillful talker that he repeatedly turns the debate around and puts the media on defense. He says at the close of the interview "This will test the character of the press, it is not only my character that is being tested." Anthony Weiner just doesn't have the political skill to pull off this kind of turnabout while the cameras are rolling.

We know in hindsight that Bill Clinton's problems were not at all behind him. He would be impeached for his behavior with Monica Lewinsky and accused of unwanted groping in the White House by Kathleen Willey. But in January 1992 with the White House on the line, truth was not the issue.

If the Clinton's are bristling at the comparison to the Weiners it can only be because the Weiner press conference was amateur hour in comparison to the Clinton's masterful 60 Minutes performance. The Weiners have stolen the Clinton's best lines but they are unable to deploy them with the same skill. For the Clintons, it must be like watching an amateur comic steal your best jokes and bomb with them.


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