Bill Clinton: Haunted by the Ghosts of ’08

Why else would he praise President Obama's opponent?

Pool/Getty Images
Pool/Getty Images

(The Root) — In addition to the GOP, President Obama is contending with a pesky Bill Clinton bent on distracting the re-election campaign of the man who, by defeating his wife, blocked Clinton’s return to the power stage of the White House.

Damning the president with high praise for his Republican rival is but the latest Clinton flare-up that topped even Mitt Romney’s own assessment of his CEO years at Bain Capital. Clinton declared them a “sterling business career.” Earlier, the Obama campaign had attacked Romney’s stewardship with ads that approximated criticism his fellow GOP candidates aired: Bain was his “rich people” investment firm run by a flock of “vultures” executing “clever ways to loot a company.”

“I don’t think we ought to … say this is bad work.” said Clinton, seizing the opportunity on CNN to bash the Obama administration. “This is good work.” Hallelujah!

Unlike Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who recently disagreed with the Obama campaign’s attack on Bain Capital (as, respectively, a $565,000 campaign beneficiary and a chief executive of the firm’s host state), Clinton’s much broader tack sounded clearly disagreeable. After rating Romney’s private career as stellar, the former president vetted the Republican’s lone public-service term as governor — a record even Romney has been reluctant to promote — as adequate preparation for the White House. 

“There’s no question that in terms of getting up, going to the office and basically performing the essential functions of the office,” Clinton asserted, “a man who’s been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold [for U.S. president].”

Questions, on the contrary, do indeed arise about such a career as qualification alone for fixing the U.S. economy and commanding the world’s lone superpower. One needs look no further than Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin, both ex-governors and successful tycoons. In retrospect, Americans might assess, as Republicans insist, the performance of Jimmy Carter, the ex-governor and peanut baron. And most recently, there’s one George W. Bush, the former governor and baseball mogul. His GOP enablers felt compelled to reinforce his Oval Office reign with the triumvirate of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell — and, despite all that, he still managed to drive his legacy-presidency headlong over the cliff.