Sunday, July 8, 2007

Was Bill Clinton smart to pick a fight with the White House?

Slate Magazine:By John Dickerson

For Democrats, this little episode highlights the promise and peril of a Hillary Clinton presidency. On the one hand, President Clinton spoke for many in the party who are furious about the Libby decision. As Hillary Clinton's team is quick to point out, she and her husband know how to fight. This is proof of it. On the other hand, Clinton has given the White House and Republicans an opportunity to muddy the issue by dredging up his past. Whatever you may think about the merits of the Rich pardon versus the Libby commutation, the debate is one the Bush team wants. The White House would rather have everyone debating the relative merits of the two than debating the inconsistencies in the Libby decision alone.

If Hillary Clinton is elected president, how often will this phenomenon be repeated? With each piece of legislation Hillary Clinton proposes or each assertion she makes, Republicans will offer an analog from the Clinton years. They'd do the same with any Democratic president, of course, but another Democratic president would have an easier time walking away from such attacks. The Clintons will be compelled to answer them. ... The question for Democrats is how much of this friction they will want in the machine in the next Democratic administration.

Where Democrats come down on this question is very important to Barack Obama, who is trying to use Bill Clinton to paint Hillary as a woman of the past. Talking about Clinton, Obama said the country needed to move past the "harsh partisanship and old arguments."

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