When I see Bill Clinton these days, I can’t help but think about Willie Mays.
Mays was arguably the greatest ballplayer of his era. Explosive, charismatic, powerful — in the ’50s and ’60s, he had all the tools. But he fell victim to the ticking clock, inevitably so; by the time he joined the ’72 New York Mets, he was a shell of his old self. It was painful to watch him whiff on balls that he had once routinely redirected toward distance fences.
There comes a point where you just gotta hang up the spikes. The Willie Mays of ’90s politics appears to have reached that juncture.
Have you seen Clinton on TV lately, often standing mute next to his marital partner? He looks like a wizened, shrunken version of the guy once known as Big Dog. One of his biographers, David Maranniss, saw him last month in New Hampshire and tweeted that Clinton had “no affect at all, just frail, like he had to conserve every ounce of energy. No gleam in his eyes, no electricity.” Clinton later worked the ropeline, “almost restored, as though he had been given an IV.”
Bill is an old 69, and his hands shake. But more important than how he looks is what he says. The guy who once had a fabled way with words is now, all too often, sounding a tad wayward. And he’s doing Hillary no favors.
For instance, here’s what he said earlier this week, while stumping in Washington state. I’ve highlighted the key stuff:
“Now, if you don’t believe we can all grow together again, if you don’t believe we’re ever going to grow again, if you believe it’s more important to re-litigate the past, there may be many reasons that you don’t want to support her. But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her because she’s the only person who basically had good ideas will tell you how she’s going to pay for them, can be commander in chief and is a proven change maker with republicans and democrats and independents alike.”
Wait … Did Bill just say that President Obama is leaving “an awful legacy?” Indeed he did. Is that the same Obama to whom Hillary swore fealty as Secretary of State? Yup. The same Obama whose name Hillary approvingly invokes on the trail, vowing to build on his record? Oh you betcha.
What a feast for the conservative media! The Conservative Review heralded “Bill Clinton’s Truth Bomb.” The headline in The Washington Times — “Bill Clinton calls Obama’s legacy ‘awful,’ potentially dooming wife’s campaign” — was hilariously hyperbolic, but hey, when you give ammo to your opponents, naturally they’ll try to max out the damage.
Hillary’s aides duly rushed to mop Bill’s mess, to spin What He Meant to Say. They insisted that when Bill cited the “awful legacy,” he was actually referring to Republican obstruction.
Spokesperson Angel Urina explained: “When Republicans controlled the White House, their trickle-down approach drove our economy to the brink of a collapse. After President Obama was elected, Republicans made it their number one goal to block him at every turn. That unprecedented obstruction these last eight years is their legacy, and the American people should reject it by electing Hillary Clinton to build on President Obama’s success so we can all grow and succeed together.”
Uh huh. So why didn’t Bill say that? Two theories:
He simply forgot to mention the Republican obstruction. But if so, this shows he’s too old for the trail. Bill in his heyday would never have skipped that crucial step.
He really does believe that Obama has an awful legacy — heck, a month ago in Memphis, he blurted that the political system “is rigged now because you don’t have a president that’s a change-maker.” But if so, this shows he’s too old for the trail. As we all know, old folks tend to become less politic as they age; their inner thoughts tend to escape their lips unfiltered.
It’s time to muzzle the Big Dog before he makes news again. Willie Mays hit .211 in his last sad season, and that’s what we’re seeing now. There’s no way to slow the march of time … oh wait, Bill has something else he wants to say. Seriously, he said this recently:
“Sometimes when I’m on a stage like this, I wish that we weren’t married, then I could say what I really think.”
For Hillary’s sake, please don’t.
Speaking of expired politicians, Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz yesterday. What a pitiful plummet for Jeb, to wind up linking arms with a widely-detested theocratic extremist who wants to police Muslim-American neighborhoods. Jeb lamented yesterday that “Washington is broken,” then proceeded to endorse the guy who broke Washington for a month, shuttering the government in a DOA bid to kill health care for millions. The fall of the House of Bush is now complete.