Bill Clinton: Obama Has “Political Instincts of a Chicago Thug”

I don’t remember ever seeing this much overt bitterness between a party’s nominee for President and the past President of the same party. And this from the Great Messianic Uniter who will inspire all mortals with his inspirational (albeit hollow as an empty piggy bank) message of hope and change.

Bill Clinton gave Obama a nice little endorsement in his speech (and Bill Clinton always knew how to give speeches), but there was little doubt that he would say at the Convention what he’d been saying everywhere else.

Slick Willy may not have a lot of room to talk, but the fact is that the “candidate of hope and change” has some dead bodies in his closet.

Bill Clinton is still clearly outraged over the Obama’s allegation that Clinton “played the race card” by comparing the Obama campaign to Jesse Jackson’s. Clinton said, “They played the race card on me.”

It’s like we’ve been saying to your wife, Bill: welcome to the Republican Party. Obama played the race card on John McCain, too. It stinks having your party’s bag of cheap and dirty tricks opened up on you, doesn’t it?

Clinton also still hasn’t gotten over vote rigging he claimed he personally witnessed by the powerful Obama-endorsing Culinary Workers’ Union in Nevada.

All that said, the quote, “Bill Clinton believes the Democratic nominee, far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of ‘a Chicago thug,'” is still quite a doozy, coming out the day of the Democratic Convention.

Seeking a graceful exit
By John F. Harris
Aug 25, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton is over it — at least when people are watching.

Within days of losing the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, her aides said she was all business, returning to her Senate duties, telling people she would do whatever Obama asked her to do in the general election.

Bill Clinton is not over it. He’s trying, his associates say. He’s slowly getting to a better place. But his resentments from the bitter campaign battles of last winter and spring are many and diverse, and people who have spent time with him recently said they fester just below the surface.

For the next two days, a convention that belongs to Obama will be dominated by the same two people who dominated the Democratic Party for the last SpringWidgets Politics \’08

Politics ’08 Get this widget! generation and who have come to Denver in much different roles than they wanted. She speaks today.

It’s his turn Wednesday.

For the Clintons, the politics of the week are simple: Accept the cheers of the many Democrats who still support them, be lavish in their praise for Obama, make sure that if he loses no one can say it was because they were covertly rooting for that result.

But the psychology of the week is complicated. It requires them to muzzle what friends say are their deep and continuing doubts about Obama’s electability, qualifications and political character.

It also requires them to embrace a generational transition in which the Clintons — whose political personas once stood for youth and the excitement of change — are cast as sunset figures, two conventional politicians in their 60s being shoved aside by a charismatic young celebrity.

“They are both going to do what they have to do,” said one veteran of Bill Clinton’s White House who remains close to the couple. “That does not mean they will enjoy it.”

But Obama, too, is part of the Denver psychodrama. Some Democrats with high- level ties to the Clinton and Obama camps said they were surprised that Obama has not done more to make the Clintons more enthusiastic about his candidacy.

Obama has taken the minimum public steps necessary to accommodate the Clintons, including giving them prime-time speaking spots.

But he has taken few of the extra steps that Clinton allies say would have gone miles toward fostering goodwill.

He did not work hard to help her retire her $24 million campaign debt.

He did not make a high-profile statement repudiating any suggestion that Bill Clinton played “the race card” in the nomination contest — an allegation that the former president considers grossly unfair and that continues to infuriate him.

Just as significant, Obama has maintained a certain cool diffidence toward the former president. They spoke by phone last week. But for weeks before that, associates said, Clinton had heard nothing and did not even know when he would be speaking at the convention. The Obama campaign’s only communication was a form letter sent to all delegates.

Clinton loves to offer advice to fellow Democrats. But even in their conversations, Clinton friends say, Obama shows little deference or signs that he thinks Clinton, the only Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win two terms, has any special wisdom to offer.

“There is a lot Obama could have done to unify the party, and basically he hasn’t lifted a finger,” said one Democratic operative who is close to the Clinton team.

Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton’s former communications director, wrote in the New Republic recently that Bill Clinton “feels like the Obama campaign ran against and systematically dismissed his administration’s accomplishments.”

“And he feels like he was painted as a racist during the primary process. Sen. Obama would go a long way towards healing these wounds if he were to specifically praise the accomplishments of the Clinton presidency in a line or two during his speech on Thursday,” Wolfson added.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., in a panel discussion sponsored Monday by The Denver Post, Politico and Yahoo News, agreed that significant healing is necessary over the next three days.

“Yes, there’s some wounds,” he said. “Yes, there’s some scabs. But sometimes, underneath a scab, there’s a little bit of pus, but we have to put some disinfectant on it so we that can heal the wound and move forward. That’s what the convention is about.”

“Her central task is to ease the sting of some of her supporters,” one of Hillary Clinton’s top advisers explained.

The success of the healing effort will depend not just on what people say from the podium but on how supporters in the Pepsi Center and in the national television audience react. This group includes high-level Democrats and people who were among the 18 million voters who backed Hillary Clinton in 2008.

“There is a group of Hillary people who are very angry, very upset,” a senior Clinton adviser said. “Some of it’s directed at the media. Very disappointed. You can’t control all those people. These are CEOs — some of them major, rich people.

“You can’t call them and tell them what to do. There is no question there is that category of people. But I don’t think people can blame her for their behavior. I think that’s probably unfair.”

This context is one obstacle Clinton must navigate in her Tuesday speech, said Harold Ickes, a longtime senior adviser to both Clintons.

“It could be a very emotional night,” said Ickes. “Her challenge is to make the most of the emotion without popping the roof off” with what might be interpreted as a sign many Clinton supporters are not re conciled to her defeat.

The same dynamic is shaping the convention roll-call vote, in which Clinton’s name will be placed in nomination to give her delegates one last chance to express their support. Clinton aides said the idea was pushed more by the Obama team than her side.

But now that the vote is taking place, they said, Clinton is deeply anxious about it. On the one hand, she wants to get at least 1,000 delegates to register their support — anything less could be an embarrassment. On the other, it was her idea to organize a floor whip operation to make sure none of her supporters is unruly or vocally criticizes Obama.

Beyond the challenges of Denver, both Clintons confront a broader question: How to relaunch their public careers in the wake of the 2008 disappointment.

Few Clinton associates interviewed believed there was any doubt she would run for president again if Obama should lose. And the Clintons believe a Democratic loss is entirely possible. They no longer vocalize their beliefs that Obama has scant experience and faces huge problems connecting with lower-income whites and other key voting blocs. But the criticisms they leveled last winter and spring — both publicly and more sharply in private conversations with top Democrats — were entirely sincere at the time and have not gone away.

For Bill Clinton, the challenge is even more complicated. Prior to his wife’s presidential campaign, his reputation had moved to a different realm. It was less about domestic politics and was centered on overseas work, such as promoting AIDS treatment in the developing world.

He wants to return to the elder-statesman role, friends said. But his own grievances from 2008 — toward the news media and toward Obama — are an obstacle.

Aides are sharply limiting access to him now until he has more time to put his feelings about Obama into perspective. Both Clintons declined repeated interview requests from Politico.

Bill Clinton believes the Democratic nominee, far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of “a Chicago thug,” one longtime associate said. Clinton has told people that Obama allowed surrogates to try to suppress Hispanic turnout in the Nevada caucuses and played “the race card” in reverse against the Clintons in South Carolina and other states.

John F. Harris is editor in chief of Politico and the author of “The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House.”

Yeah, far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, Barack Obama DOES have the political instincts of “a Chicago thug.” But what do you expect from a Chicago politician? Barack Obama may claim to be as pure as the wind-driven snow, but you don’t in one of the most corrupt political playgrounds in the country without getting more than a little dirty.

It’s okay, Bill. You’re not alone. Alice Palmer knows what it’s like to get chopped down by the Obama machine, too. Look at it this way: at least Hillary actually got a chance to run against Obama.

In any event, given his “Chicago thug” and “Candidate X and Candidate Y” remarks, you can tell that Bill isn’t too happy about how things have gone down.

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2 Responses to “Bill Clinton: Obama Has “Political Instincts of a Chicago Thug””

  1. Vic Says:

    Obama is a Socialist Thug! Plain and simple!

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    I think history has proven that one.

    One of the few good things Bill Clinton did was sign welfare reform. Clinton vetoed it twice before signing it; and then the Republican welfare reform overhaul worked so well to help poor people (their employment went way up and their dependency went way down) that Clinton literally ended up stealing the credit for it!

    With Obama now undoing welfare reform that was passed by Congress and signed into law by a president with the fascist tactics he is using – particularly given the 20 years of success that welfare reform had had – is truly demonic. Obama truly doesn’t want to help the poor; he wants to hurt them, make them his welfare-check slaves and shove them back into dependency for the next 10 generations.

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