...is it possible that there is a deeper motivation than a common exchange of pleasantries? Let me posit Bill Clinton may purposely be undermining John Kerry’s presidential aspirations. The latest Pew Research polls suggest Bush is turning back up in the polls. Perhaps Clinton’s remarks have convinced some of the swing voters who respected Clinton but have questions about Kerry.
Assuming the election is down to the wire, consider the potential effect Clinton’s timely words and summer-long book tour might have on the Kerry team. Further, consider his motivation. Might he be keeping the door open for Hillary in 2008. As he is the consummate politician of our time, I wouldn’t put it past him.
Today, Peggy Noonan raises some interesting points on the super-chum stylings of the Senior Bush and Mr. Clinton relationship.
What does Democrat Bill Clinton get out of cultivating the Republican Bushes? He gets public approval from a man most of the country sees as personally upstanding. When Mr. Bush puts his arm around Mr. Clinton, he confers his rectitude. Democrats won't mind it, and independent voters will like it. In receiving the embrace of the patriarch of such a famously Republican family, Mr. Clinton looks like someone who is, by definition, nonradical, mainstream, not too unacceptably odd and grifter-ish. Big bonus: Mr. Clinton knows that when he receives Mr. Bush's affectionate approval, his wife, who will soon be running for president, also seems by extension to be receiving it. This is good for her. Both Clintons pick up some positive attention from on-the-ground Republicans. This is good too.
What does the elder Mr. Bush get out of it? He burnishes his reputation for personal generosity and a certain above-it-all nonpartisanship. He shows he's not narrow like a conservative, but national like a great leader. This has a spillover effect on his son, the incumbent president. The more his father embraces the foe, the more embracing the current President Bush looks. By publicly declaring his closeness with Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush senior demonstrates a high minded interest in political comity and a rejection of mere party politics, unlike the low little people who are inspired by animus and always getting het up about their little issues. Would a former president Pat Buchanan hug a former president Clinton? Huh, go dream.
So Mr. Clinton does it because it's good for himself and for his wife's prospects. Mr. Bush does it because it's good for himself and his son.
Do you trust either one of them?