Sunday, July 18, 2010
With his poll numbers tanking, President Obama is forging a partnership with his once bitter adversary from the 2008 presidential race — former President Bill Clinton, hoping to drag his presidency out of the doldrums and salvage Democratic prospects in a bleak midterm election season.
Mr. Clinton’s time in the White House is linked to an era of economic boom — 24 million new jobs were created under his watch, Mr. Clinton will be dispatched to campaign in key states where Democratic candidates regard Mr. Obama as a political liability.
In the 2008 presidential primary, Clinton was livid over being portrayed by the rival camp as a racist as he campaigned for his wife, Hillary, in her acrimonious battle with Mr. Obama for the Democratic nomination. A senior Democrat who worked for Mr. Clinton has revealed that he told friends Mr. Obama could “kiss my ass” in return for his support.
But two years is twenty years in politics, as President Obama sees his once sky-high popularity ratings slide to new lows. In the latest polling, 43% of American strongly disapprove of his leadership, while only 26% strongly approve, and a mere 13% believe his economic policies had benefitted them.
So it is significant that President Obama named Jack Lew, Mr. Clinton’s budget director at a time when the U.S. was enjoying several years of surpluses, to the same role in his administration. Also, Mr. Obama nominated Elena Kagan, another former Clinton official to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary is expected to vote on her nomination this week.
But the Clinton brand is seen as a mixed blessing by many Democrats. If the former president and his team ride to President Obama’s rescue this autumn, it could set the stage for yet another chapter in the seemingly never-ending Clinton political psycho-drama, providing Jon Stewart, David Letterman and SNL with material for years to come.