Is it just my imagination? Or, when the actual President leaves town on state business, does the former president Bill Clinton seek out the Washington limelight? However, even Bill could not have wanted some of the attention he garnered this time. I’m sure he did not intend for his backstage, off-the-record remarks to Paul Ryan to be captured for all of us to ultimately hear. But, thanks to an intrepid soul, they were. The post at TPM tells the story, including backstage banter we might have been happier not knowing.
Here was the exchange:
“I’m glad we won this race in New York,” Clinton can be seen saying in the video. “But I hope Democrats don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing.”
Ryan responded: “My guess is it’s gonna sink into paralysis, is what’s gonna happen. And you know the math. I mean, It’s just — we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving.”
Clinton told Ryan to call him if he ever wanted to talk about the issue, Ryan said he would, and the two parted.
We cannot be sure what Bill meant. There is much left between the lines. Perhaps this represents nothing but small talk. We could give him the benefit of the doubt. It may be that he is just schmoozing Ryan. But is he empathizing? You know how good Bill is at feeling others’ pain. But he seems to genuinely be agreeing with Paul Ryan here.
On the other hand, you could think that perhaps Bill is trying to both insert himself in the process AND alter history, the way he had planned to do when impeachment intervened. According to Joe Conason, in his book Raw Deal, Clinton had a Social Security privatization scam ready to roll out, when the Ken Starr document dump intervened. He couldn’t very well do something that controversial at that time or his base of support would have stopped trying to stave off his removal from office. I was one of them and I sure as hell wouldn’t have kept at it, working up talking points, sending of LTEs, writing the Judiciary Committee over and over, defending him on bulletin boards (not for his infidelity or for his affair, but for the fact that his adversaries had gone on a fishing expedition and uncovered no real impeachable offense. That didn’t stop the Starr brigade.) For hours each week, like thousands of other keypad warriors, I used my spare time to try to stave off impeachment and keep Bill Clinton from being removed from office. With little more than our desktops, online bulletin boards, and Move-On.org we fought for him. We wouldn’t have if we knew he was poised to sell us out.
Back to the present, we could think Bill believes he is actually “Top Dog” as at least one media outlet portrayed him recently. (BTW, I thought Biden was tasked to mediate the negotiations. I really think Obama should be calling the shots). Still, with NAFTA, the elimination of Glass-Steagall, and other deregulation, combined with Clinton’s previous privatization ambitions, this video clip does not bode well.
Let me be clear. Under no circumstances should Bill Clinton be intruding into this process, which talking with Ryan about strategy would be. The House gone mad, and a Senate majority held hostage to 40 Senators is untenable to an American public, which has already made up its mind. More than 70% of the American people say “hands off Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.” Paul Ryan’s phony claim that he’ll save Medicare should be exposed by Bill Clinton not schmoozed into obscurity. Whose side is Bill on?
So, what to do? President Obama should tell Clinton to butt out, but he won’t. The fact is that Obama needs Clinton, and his supporters. Now that he is back in the US (he travels to MO today), POTUS should step in strongly and shame the sniveling Paul Ryan and his brain-dead minions for the pathetic ageist, elitist, cruel, and immoral people they are. Overtly trying to harm the poor, the sick, old people and children shows just how low today’s GOP has gone and how bereft of ideas the brain-dead reverse-wonk Ryan is. Instead of getting that he is so unpopular back home that he may loose his next House race, Ryan thinks he should run for president! Paul Ryan will fit right in with the ignorant, flaky, and far-out-of-the-mainstream cast of characters (Perry, Palin, Bachmann, Giuliani, Gingrich, Trump, Cain, etc), all delusional in their belief that they too should be president! If these are the best minds the GOP has got, it has reinvented stupid. How smart are you, anyway, to base your “economic theory, on a morally bankrupt, sociopath third-rate fiction writer like Ayn Rand?
Meanwhile millions of jobless and homeless Americans suffer and fifty million older Americans have to live in fear of being decimated. As Daniel Greenwood has said,
“Thus Ryan manages the extraordinary feat of proposing extraordinary cruelty, unjustly distributed, in order to promote unsustainable inefficiency.”
Ryan’s howling at the moon does not necessitate a capitulation. Moreover, the moral imperative is to find another way than a plan which devastates most of the population. Whatever is or is not in Bill Clinton’s mind there is little in Paul Ryan’s, only darkness in his heart. And Bill shouldn’t feed him. Please, POTUS, it’s time for you to wrest this process back from the spoilers and failed appeasers. We want a clean debt ceiling bill. We want an end to absurd tax cuts for the rich and corporations. And we want a safety net that is stronger, not weaker. Most of all, the minority cannot be allowed to control the agenda. Make them understand that will not and cannot happen in a country purporting to be a democratic republic. Otherwise we are neither democratic nor a republic.