Jewish World Review June 25, 2004 / 6 Tamuz, 5764
Bubba backing Bush?
Bill Clinton has a unique form of ADD he is disordered when he does not get enough attention. Like a headlight reflector on the highway, he cannot shine unless a light illuminates him. Like a solar battery, he cannot generate energy unless he basks in the outside stimulus of sunlight. And like a cold-blooded creature, he cannot internally generate body warmth, but relies upon the sun to provide it.
Just remember how fully he realized himself standing before Congress and basking in applause, spotlights and public adulation. He chose a profession in which the band rarely stops playing and the press never goes home.
But now, in the twilight of his political career, he craves attention. He needs an audience. He has to have a mirror, to see himself in the eyes of others in order to understand who he is.
Clinton could no more resist writing his memoirs and releasing them in the middle of a presidential campaign than he could turn aside from any spotlight. Clinton has run for office in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1992, and 1996. Indeed, the former president is launching his own campaign beginning with the unveiling of his portrait at the White House last week, continuing through his massive book publicity campaign and nationwide book signings, the release of Harry Thomasson's sympathetic "The Hunting of the President" movie, his upcoming speech to the 2004 Democratic convention and, finally, the opening of his presidential library in Little Rock later this year.
The real question is why Clinton is campaigning. A large part of the answer must lie in his neurosis and his inability to function when he is not on stage. This incessant need for outside stimulus that caused him to risk his presidency on a series of affairs cannot be extinguished. It can only be channeled. And he cannot resist mounting the platform when it is erected every four years.
But one cannot brush aside a pragmatic calculus where the former president is concerned. The fact remains that a Kerry victory would retard Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions for at least four years. The New York Democratic senator could clearly have the 2008 nomination for the asking. But if she had to wait until 2012 and compete with Kerry's vice president, who knows what the outcome would be.
Clinton certainly knows that the side-by-side comparison of his own charisma, pathos, empathy and charm with the stiff, patrician bearing of Kerry will redound to the disadvantage of the Democratic nominee. Even assuming that Kerry could grow, which man, only beginning to sample the national stage, is the equal of an experienced performer at the end of two terms as president?
Clinton owns prime time. Kerry is not even ready for it. The contrast will be telling. Contrasted with Clinton, Kerry will come across as aloof, arrogant, conceited and remote. Hardly the stuff of which presidential candidacies are nurtured.
But is there an even more devious motivation behind Clinton's tell-all psychobabble?
Does his banter about his affair with Monica Lewinsky make Bush's normalcy suddenly more attractive? Remember how Jimmy Carter's integrity, which got him elected in 1976, was irrelevant when he ran against Ronald Reagan? To make simple, plain ethical behavior relevant, one needs a contrast. What better comparison could one hope for than Clinton's pathetic excuses for his conduct alongside Bush's decency and dignity?
Clinton's insistence on revisiting the past and dragging it into the present is bound to have a negative impact on Kerry's candidacy. First Reagan's death and now Clinton's memoir blot out Kerry's message and usurp his time in the sun. The run-up to the Democratic convention now must be fraught with the wreckage of Clinton's personal image.
Is it just a coincidence that the former president has strewn such dubious roses in the path of his possible successor as Democratic standard-bearer? One suspects that Clinton, of all people, knows exactly what he is doing and precisely why he is doing it.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, most recently, "Rewriting History", a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History. (ClickHERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.
© 2004, Dick Morris