Bill Clinton has criticised the lack of deal-makers in Washington politics, hinting at the frustration some in his camp feel toward the isolated Obama White House during a campaign rally for long-time fundraiser and current Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Though primarily attacking Republican intransigence during the government shutdown, the former president made a series of arguments for more consensus-building across the partisan divide and defended the would-be governor of Virginia's reputation for being a power broker.
"When people sneeringly say McAuliffe is a deal-maker, I say: oh, if we only had one in Washington," Clinton told a cheering crowd of supporters in Norfolk, Virginia.
"The constitution might as well be subtitled the art of the deal," he added. "It is exhausting seeing politicians wasting time with all these heated arguments when people need jobs."
Clinton faced two government shutdowns of his own while president, but the failure of the current administration to win bipartisan support for any of its major policy initiatives has led to veiled criticism from veteran aides, who, when speaking privately, say the White House today lacks figures who can reach across the party divide and strike deals.
First of all, who on the other side is ready, willing, and able to cut deals? The GOP strategy during the Obama administration has been a neo-Confederate one: massive resistance to everything proposed by this President even if it's based on a GOP idea. The ACA is very close to Congressional health care plans proposed by Republican Senators John Chaffee and Chuck Grassley. Guess whose plan they were countering? Bill and Hillary Clinton's, that's who. 1990's health care reform died on the vine without any GOP support. So much for reaching across the aisle in a good cause.
Second, the *major* legislative success of the Clinton administration (I consider NAFTA to be a disaster, take a look at Juarez and you'll see what I mean) was the 1993 budget that included tax hikes on the rich. It passed on a party line vote in the House and needed Vice President Gore's tie breaking vote in the Senate.
Yes, they passed some other things with the assistance of congressional Republicans, but they were right wing measures such as welfare "reform" and the repeal of Glass-Steagall. This is hardly a record for the Obamans to emulate or envy.
Bill Clinton's comments play in to the "Obama can't work with Congress" narrative favored by the courtier press. It's rich coming from a guy who faced the same accusations, and was eventually impeached by the Gingrichian House. Btw, one of the impeachment ringleaders was "moderate deal maker" Lindsey Graham of Sunday show fame.
This is obviously the first stage in a future Hillary campaign's need to differentiate itself from the current Democratic President. Not that Bill liked it very much when his own Veep saw him as toxic in 2000.
There's nothing better for a President's reputation than being out of office. In Clinton's case, he's a warm, likeable and colorful ex-President, but even President Beavis' numbers have improved since the end of his tenure as the oval one. Even the austere and icy Jimmy Carter, who was hooted out of office in 1980, has good ratings 33 years after his landslide defeat.
The moral of this story is that it's good to be an ex-King: