Bill Clinton was supposed to be Hillary’s secret weapon on the campaign trail, but he’s shaping up to be more of a liability.
The former president looks tired and frail, when Hillary was counting on his energetic charm. Young voters aren’t giving him a pass for his sexual offenses, as elderly feminists demand. He keeps dropping deadly sound bites, such as “Sometimes when I am on a stage like this, I wish that we weren’t married, then I could say what I really think.”
And when he does say what he really thinks, it’s absolutely devastating for the Democrat Party.
Such was the case during a conversation with NBC’s Kate Snow on the morning of the New Hampshire primary, when Bill Clinton groused about how Bernie Sanders is appealing to young people by tapping into the sense of gloom and despair they’ve developed after seven years of the Obama presidency.
When asked if it bothered him that his wife did not seem to be resonating with young people, Clinton said: “No, it’s all part of the strategy the Republicans have. Keep her tied up for a year.”
He said young voters were “mad because they think their lives aren’t gonna be better than their parent,” adding that “they feel trapped. And her opponent came up with a real catchy answer for that.”
He continued: “What bothers me is … until just the last few days … we haven’t been approaching a real conversation. And I feel good about it. We’re gonna debate the future of the Democratic Party and the future of the country for a couple of months now and I look forward to it.”
Even his perfunctory attempt to dismiss Hillary’s email scandal as a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is listless and weak. The Bill Clinton of yore was so much better at distracting from his corruption by attacking the accusers.
Of course, Clinton probably expects his listeners to hold Obama blameless for that sense of despair. Bernie Sanders himself is hesitant to pin too much of the blame on the current Democrat president, although he does have a penchant for claiming the Obama Administration has been hiding the depth of our economic malaise with cooked job reports and political spin. There is a ceiling on how hard Sanders can hit the soft-socialist Obama, when he’s angling to take over as his hard-socialist successor.
One of the reasons Sanders has done so unexpectedly well against Hillary Clinton is that he’s running as an outsider. Obama’s failures and scandals have created an overpowering sense of distrust for government on both sides of the aisle. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 81 percent of likely voters think the federal government is corrupt. One is tempted to joke that the other 19 percent probably work for the federal government, but frankly quite a few federal employees would tell a pollster they believe the system is corrupt, too.
Of course, the two halves of our great partisan divide have dramatically different ideas about where corruption originates, and how the government can be purified. Conservatives and libertarians argue that Big Government is inherently corrupt, while the Left – including many “moderate” Republicans and GOP Establishment types – believe the system can be cleansed and improved with the right leadership, particularly the right President.
The Left’s argument should be a tough sell, after Obama’s “Hope and Change” curdled into a sense of frustration, anxiety, and despair so overpowering that even Democrat elder statesmen are talking about it on the campaign trail. Seven years of Obama’s “leadership” convinced a generation that America’s best days are behind her, that the mighty Big Government-Big Business symbiosis he nourished is stealing the future from them, and that only radical change can break the deadlock.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are actually pushing fundamentally similar messages about how Even Bigger Government is the answer to despair. Hillary has been consciously aping Sanders and trying to steal his thunder as his poll numbers climbed, which makes Bill’s critique of the Sanders campaign rather awkward – his wife is also telling young people she understands how they feel “trapped,” and offering to force other people to buy them a key… or, to put the socialist message more honestly, force other people to furnish their cells more comfortably.
Republicans should “pounce” (to use the media’s favorite term for their most effective messaging strategies) on the fact that both Democrat contenders agree Hope and Change has collapsed into despair. A clip of Bill Clinton talking about how young people feel “trapped” should fit snugly into any Republican campaign commercial.