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Billary for President

billary.jpgThis surprises me as I had always thought of Bill as more of a liability to Hillary's campaign than an asset, but there is no question that Hillary has the smartest campaign team in the race, and I trust their judgement. Maybe fielding Bill with Hill at this point in the race is just a trial balloon, to see which way the wind is blowing.

It's Billary for President! The name has been coined for the increasingly double-barreled White House run by Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York, with husband Bill at her side.

The idea of Billary is a leap in campaign strategy and, for all Bill Clinton's global stardom, a calculated risk.

Conventional wisdom had it that for Hillary to triumph in next year's elections, she must be clearly separated from Bill. This was to put distance between Hillary and old scandals, and to establish her own persona: 'getting to know Hillary'.

But strategists have finally realised that Bill is more of an asset than a liability, particularly now that the Clinton-hating right is sunk in its own disgrace. Bill's political genius has been in the background guiding staid Hillary from the day his own presidency was up. What's new is the profile.

Bill is already making waves in the race.

When Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich at the end of his term, about-to-be-President Bush and his aides didn't make a huge stink. Maybe Bush figured that one day he'd need to defend his own pardons. Maybe he didn't want to start off with a drawn-out political fight. Or maybe he wanted to skirt the inconvenient fact that Scooter Libby, known only at the time as the vice president's chief of staff with the quirky name, was Rich's lawyer.

Now the White House is happy to talk about the Clinton pardon, especially since the former president criticized Bush's decision to commute Scooter Libby's sentence. White House spokesman Tony Snow reacted by saying Clinton had extraordinary chutzpah to make such a claim, given his actions with Rich. Snow also mentioned Clinton's record in an op-ed in USA Today defending Bush's decision.

billary2.jpgFor Democrats, this little episode highlights the promise and peril of a Hillary Clinton presidency. On the one hand, President Clinton spoke for many in the party who are furious about the Libby decision. As Hillary Clinton's team is quick to point out, she and her husband know how to fight.[...]

On the other hand, Clinton has given the White House and Republicans an opportunity to muddy the issue by dredging up his past. Whatever you may think about the merits of the Rich pardon versus the Libby commutation, the debate is one the Bush team wants. The White House would rather have everyone debating the relative merits of the two than debating the inconsistencies in the Libby decision alone.

If Hillary Clinton is elected president, how often will this phenomenon be repeated? With each piece of legislation Hillary Clinton proposes or each assertion she makes, Republicans will offer an analog from the Clinton years. They'd do the same with any Democratic president, of course, but another Democratic president would have an easier time walking away from such attacks.

Meanwhile, Barack is being a little bolder, and recently started taking jabs at Hillary:

[Obama] rejected the notion that [Hillary] is more prepared for the job. "The only person who would probably be prepared to be our president on Day One would be Bill Clinton -- not Hillary Clinton," the Illinois senator said.

It's apparent from that quote that Barack has a deep-seated respect for Bill. Whether that respect is enough to keep Barack from launching all-out attacks on BIllary remains to be seen.


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Comments (4)

Paul Hamilton:

If Hillary gets the nomination, it's a guaranteed Republican win. Period. It's beyond my comprehension that again, the Democrats would take a situation where we were almost assured of a victory and hand it to the opposition by nominating someone who infuriates most Americans at the mere sight. And the "Swiftboaters" of this election cycle would turn her into mincemeat.

Would Bill help? No. It would make her look weak ("She has to have her husband campaign for her -- would you really want her running the country?") and Bill arouses wrath at least as great as she does in many people.

Steve Crickmore:

Paul, I think that Bill definitely can be an large campaign asset for Hillary...Bill is as personable as Hillary is 'unpersonable'. He tends to humanize her and soften her 'shrillnes'..If 'libido Bill' can endure being married to her for 31 years perhaps we can suffer her for 4 years? This is how much of the public will view the 'Billary arrangement. And her weathervane left of center politics should be be acceptable enough at the polls. But like you, I still hope she doesn't win the nomination.

Lee Ward:

This is a good example of the kind of danger Clinton represents.

She's tasted the power of White House bully pulpit, and acts as if she's still wields that power, even though she doesn't (yet).

The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.

A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote.

He added that "such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks."

It was inappropriate for Clinton to grandstand and presume to lecture the Defense Department, as if they aren't considering such contingencies already.

Gezahegn:

Bill has every reason on earth to do his best so that Hillary becomes the next president. I
have a strong belief that he will be an asset while in the race and during her presidency. Some people argue that Hillary is overshadowed by her husband; I tell these people that Hillary and Bill are on the same side of the battle field. They have been a good team in the past and there ought to be nothing to change that behaviour now or in the future.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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