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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "A Popular President": Start Building the White House Bachelor Suite?

Over the course of a lifetime, I have only been in the physical proximity of two presidents: Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. One exuded inquietude and malaise, while the other radiated charm and charisma. True, Nixon at the time was seeking reelection, and the seeds of Watergate had begun to germinate. My chance encounter with Clinton, on the other hand, was several years after his second term, yet I still believe that Clinton by nature is and always was very comfortable in his own skin.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Popular President" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-a-popular-president.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0), Maureen Dowd questions why Bill Clinton's popularity continues to wax, while that of Hillary and Obama has begun to wane. Dowd writes:

"As Hillary stumbles and President Obama slumps, Bill Clinton keeps getting more popular.

The women, the cheesy behavior, the fund-raising excesses, the self-pity, the adolescent narcissism, the impeachment, the charges of racially tinged insults against Obama in 2008, the foundation dishabille — all that percussive drama has faded to a mellow saxophone riff for many Americans."

Dowd goes on to observe:

"Speaking at the 92nd Street Y last month, Bill O’Reilly was asked by Geraldo Rivera whether the country would have been better off electing Hillary instead of Barack Obama.

'With Hillary you get Bill,' O’Reilly replied. 'And Bill knows what’s going on. You may not like him but he knows what’s going on. Hillary doesn’t understand how the world works.'"

But did Bill Clinton really know what he was doing? Maybe. He added a mere $1.4 trillion to US national debt, peanuts compared with the "contributions" of George W. Bush and Obama, and although his foreign policy was never deemed stellar, he certainly never promised "flexibility" to the likes of Vladimir Putin.

Or stated otherwise, when Bill Clinton left office, there were still possibilities, whereas today it's all but over.

US debt under the incredible shrinking president has reached an unsustainable $17.6 trillion. Obama has also presided over a string of stinging foreign policy debacles - Russia, the Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Iran, Israel-Palestine and China, and America's standing overseas has never been lower. Yup, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

Can Hillary make it better? Probably not. Although she logged countless frequent flyer miles as secretary of state, even her most ardent admirers have trouble pointing to a single foreign policy success.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Perhaps. But if so, Hillary's failed book tour was poorly timed, and there is now talk of an emerging Elizabeth Warren challenge.

Start building a White House bachelor suite for Bill? Not yet. Place him front and center, and a fickle American electorate could soon have misgivings.

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