Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama's turn to Bill Clinton

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 6:46 AM

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A major piece by John Heilemann in New York magazine examines the evolving relationship between President Obama and former President Bill Clinton and Obama's use of his considerable political skills. Hope he made a phone call about tonight.

Things have come a long way from the uncomfortable 2008 campaign, the article notes.

Today, Hillary Clinton is the most popular member of Obama’s Cabinet, and her husband is not only his greatest but most tireless political ally. This past September 11, the Y-chromosome Clinton was in Miami, ripping Mitt Romney a new one over Medicare. Since then, Clinton has campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada, raised money for him in Boston and with him in Los Angeles—and there is more to come. A TV ad with Clinton making the case for Obama’s reelection has run 16,000 times in swing states across the country. Another, featuring a clip of Clinton’s address at the Democratic convention, almost gives the impression that he is Obama’s running mate. Then there is that speech itself, which another top Obama adviser tells me flatly is “the most important moment of the campaign so far.”

The Barack-and-Bill double act on display this fall marks a new and intriguing phase in a psychological entanglement so rich that if Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were alive, they would surely be squabbling over it instead of Sabina Spielrein’s hysteria. No one close to Obama or Clinton even bothers with the pretense that there is any real affection between them. But most concur with the assessment of a Democratic operative with tentacles deep in both worlds: that “the relationship today is totally transactional—and highly functional.”

What Obama stands to gain from the transaction is plain enough to see. The support of the political figure with the highest approval rating, 69 percent, of any in America. The suasive services of a surrogate who can talk the owls down from the trees. The imprimatur of a former president associated with a period of broad and deep prosperity, imbued with unparalleled credibility on matters economic, and possessing special traction with the white working- and ¬≠middle-class voters whom Obama has always had a hard time reaching. What Obama stands to gain, in other words, is a healthy boost in his quest for reelection—one all the more invaluable in the wake of his dismal performance in the first debate.

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