Why many of us feel betrayed by Bill Clinton

No one expected that Bill Clinton, once out of office, would go home to Hope, Arkansas and settle down, the way Harry Truman did in Independence, Missouri. And while it seemed likely Clinton would set up a charitable foundation, do some international good will work and otherwise contribute, few of us harbored any illusions of him becoming another Jimmy Carter. And certainly no one doubted that if Hillary ran for president he’d be in her corner.

But I don’t think many of us anticipated anything quite like this.

(Newsweek) Leading Democrats To Bill Clinton: Pipe Down

Prominent Democrats are upset with the aggressive role that Bill Clinton is playing in the 2008 campaign, a role they believe is inappropriate for a former president and the titular head of the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, both currently neutral in the Democratic contest, have told their old friend heatedly on the phone that he needs to change his tone and stop attacking Sen. Barack Obama, according to two sources familiar with the conversations who asked for anonymity because of their sensitive nature. Clinton, Kennedy and Emanuel all declined to comment.

And it isn’t just members of the Democratic establishment, like Kennedy and Emanuel, who are upset with Clinton’s almost attack dog approach to an intraparty nomination contest; many traditionally pro-Clinton bloggers are expressing similar misgivings. Here, for example, is Josh Marshall;

I don’t have a good answer to this. I don’t expect Bill Clinton, who’s not a shrinking violet, to be neutral in his own wife’s nomination campaign. But I have to admit that the intensity of Bill Clinton’s attacks on Barack Obama really makes me uncomfortable. I know there are a lot of Democratic party insiders, mostly older than I am, who don’t like it either. But I wonder if there’s not some generational aspect to it for people my age. I was in my early 20s in 1992. And really throughout the 90s you couldn’t be a bigger Clinton guy than I was. So it’s hard to see that history (and it’s quite some history) leveraged to muscle this campaign.

For many Democrats this goes beyond being uncomfortable with Clinton’s conduct. It’s more like a feeling of betrayal. And that, as strange as it may sound, has a lot to do with Monica Lewinsky.

As strongly as I supported Bill Clinton every step of the way through the Lewinsky dust up, I always knew ultimately that he would stab his supporters in the back. What he did was reckless, stupid, selfish and ultimately dishonest. And the repercussions didn’t just hurt him: they hurt his supporters, and may well have played a role in bringing the worst president in American history to power.

Still, we stuck with him.

Why did we do it? A lot of it, I suppose, came down to something as simple as the fact we liked him. In fact, we liked him a lot. Also, defending Clinton had become almost instinctive after years of watching him subjected to one unfair attack and investigation after another. But more than anything else, I think most of us just felt that it was the right thing to do: as foolish and disingenuous as Clinton’s conduct had been, he’d done nothing nearly bad enough to justify his being driven out of office, especially given the mitigating factor that his Lewinsky dishonesty occurred at a time when he was being mercilessly pursued by a massive right wing witch hunt.

So we stuck with him, and he survived. And, as Josh Marshall said, seeing that now “leveraged to muscle this campaign,” often in very unfair ways, is disturbing.

And it feels like betrayal.

13 Responses to “Why many of us feel betrayed by Bill Clinton”

  1. Chuck Says:

    He, just like Hillary, is nothing more than a closet Republican. Is NAFTA a liberal ideal? How about it’s all about power, prestige and money? That seems to be the norm in politics. Always has been.

    Shoot! I shouldn’t write this late at night. This is when I get most upset with myself and the world. Then too, I don’t have any regrets over some of those remarks.

  2. Larkrise Says:

    I was sent this link by a West Lafayette peace group. This has been around since the New Hampshire Primary. I didnt pay much attention to the accusation. However, I am beginning to wonder. Are the Clintons that desperate to win? There has, for me anyway, always been a hint of “Slick Willy” associated with them. The Jennifer Flowers thing. Whitewater. Monica Lewinsky. I was never that crazy about Bill. I thought he was a good manager, but very much the backroom politician. When he said he had never had”sexual relations with that woman”, I knew he was lying. Semanitics tripped him up. He meant sexual intercourse, which WAS the truth. However, the dress, desk and cigar bit was gross. Clinton was a fool, in that respect. And, I agree, his actions helped put Dubya in office. Bushtwit used his phoney, Born Again act to convince the nation he was a “uniter.” OF COURSE, Bush is truly immoral and suffers from depraved indifference. His faults are far worse than Bill Clinton’s sexual addiction. But, I am tired of Clintons. Enough is enough. And if there was any hanky panky in New Hampshire, I hope it can be proven. Who knows……When winning at any cost becomes the standard, then those who subscribe to that fallacy are not offering change. They are offering more of the unethical and immoral morass we have slogged through the last 7 years.

    “The surprise and mysterious win of Clinton in NH stinks of vote count rigging. But in addition to the obvious goal of rigging with electronic scanning machines is how rigged elections destroy faith and credibility in the public mind of exit polling which has always been very reliable. All the exit polls showed Obama with a 3 or 4% margin. A review of hand counts showed the same. But electronic counts showed the flip for HRC. The exit polling for the Republicans was right on the money. McCain over the others.

    Follow the NH recount with black box voting; http://www.blackboxvoting.org/
    Who said? “it’s not how many votes are cast but who counts the votes”

  3. Mollie Says:

    I also voted for Clinton and am totally disgusted with him. If he thinks she can’t make it as President on her own, she shouldn’t be running. I would not for her for this reason alone. He has lost her vote from me.

  4. richl Says:

    Like any scum, the warmer it gets the more active it gets and the more it stinks.

  5. alwayshope Says:

    I don’t like Big dog acting, as Katrina Vandenheuval from the Nation said, like a little league dad. I can understand his anger and defensiveness but Hillary doesn’t need an irrational attack dog. Obama is stepping it up too, though. He is no innocent in this angerfest.

    Mark Shields said on PBS news one night, “Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love.”
    Maybe that’s why we feel betrayed so often.

  6. johncp Says:

    All the anti-Clinton posts here, are either right-wingers slobbering their vomit against Bill Clinton, who bested them at every level, but particularly at the level of their pathological hatred of democracy. The few democrats on this list, give up too easily, in their support for Bill Clinton. Whether you judge his “misconduct” on its own, or compare it with Bush’s misconduct, I can barely fault the man. But if you compare the wrongs these two men have visited on society, Clinton’s wrongs don’t register; they’re non-existent. Bush’s wrongs, on the other hand, are so monumental, any realistic comparison with the wrongdoing of virtually any other president, is a huge joke. Bill Clinton has done nothing wrong in his defense of Hillary. This is media deceit and treachery, enthusiastically, greedily embraced by Obama, in the latest and possibly the most effective attack on Hillary’s candidacy from the institution that has corruptly sought to undermine her campaign from the beginning: media. The ugliest and most transparent lie, is the attempt to blame Bill Clinton for the election of the imbecile currently pretending to be president, when it was a disgraced, bare majority of a conservative leaning U. S. Supreme Court, and corrupted vote counting, that nearly destroyed our country with Bush.

    From Steve: This is a moderated site for a reason.  I’m posting this comment, but it’s close to the line.  Contrary to the aspersion made, no one who posts here is a right-winger (that’s where the moderated site thing comes in).  And by the way, the ”conservative leaning U. S. Supreme Court, and corrupted vote counting” and their impact on election 2000 have been frequent objects of attack here.  But it’s nonsense to suggest that means that other factors may not have played into Bush’s election as well.  

    Contrary arguments are encouraged in the lounge, but name calling isn’t.  Let’s stick to the former.

  7. kroses Says:

    This is EXACTLY the way I feel! I covered up for this guy for 8 long years, and now I see what a selfish and self-centered person he really is!!! He brought about the destruction of the Democratic Party for 8 long years, and now he is doing it again! The way he and his wife are playing such DIRTY POLITICS with Barack, I would NEVER in a million years vote for her, if she is the nominee! I would vote for an Independent before I would vote for her! This is how they are destroying the Democratic Party, maybe forever!!! There is absolutely NO LOYALTY HERE anymore for me! And this is coming from a lifelong liberal, who has NEVER voted for anyone BUT a Democrat! That is how viscerally I feel the hatred for these 2 monsters! If this is how intensely a liberal feels, just think how a RePUKE feels! There will be absolutely NO chance for her to win the General Election!!! The Democratic “Establishment” had better think long and hard before enabling and promoting her candidacy!!!

  8. Larkrise Says:

    Thank you, Steve, for your reminder about why this is a moderated site. I have visited sites that were not properly moderated. It was not an enjoyable nor commendable experience. We can agree to disagree without attacking and bashing one another. If that is a desired activity, I recommend HuffPost. There are some excellent articles there; but the comments are a free-for-all. I am a very strong supporter of freedom of speech. However, there are times when it is valuable for the individual to spend time amongst like-minded people, who do not hurl insults at one another. This is exactly what the Limbaughs, Coulters, and Savages do. That isnt debate. It is a contest to see who can spew the most venom and win the “Nastiest Insult of the Century” award in public. To be sure, some of us, and I am certainly one of them, take the opportunity to ventilate our anger and frustration at the extremism of the Right Wing, and at some of the more spineless Democrats. I value the information I obtain here, and the chance to sound off a bit. I surely do not see any Right-Wingnuts here! That a few of us are not fans of the Clintons does NOT mean we are failed Liberals or failed Progressives. We just dont agree with their style. I cant tolerate Nancy Pelosi, either, or Harry Reid. I am a big fan of Russ Feingold and I like the courage of Dennis Kucinich. In fact, I am VERY progressive, far from being a centrist. Evan Bayh is anathaema to me. Those folks are trying to hide in a stubble field. So,johncp, go ahead and support the Clintons, Obama, Edwards or whoever is your cup of tea; but there is no need to bash those who disagree.

  9. Again Says:


    But if you compare the wrongs these two men have visited on society, Clinton’s wrongs don’t register

    no - no blinders, nowhere and never blinders

    equal rights for everyone - wrong remains wrong and should never be “un-registered”. Of course, there are differences in wrongs - and to maim and kill children just for fun, megalomania and greed may be something nearly beyond comparison with some flirtations between adults - except the fact, that the lie of BC wasn’t so tough because of the flirtation but because of the breach of trust

    and a breach of trust is a very serious crime in democracies - because democracies depend on justice and justice is tightly linked to trust

    so, honestly, i am not so surprised about the current situation. “Biz as usual” or, as Chuck said: “That seems to be the norm in politics” - add to this the simple philosophy of our times, that winning justifies everything and you know what inevitably has to come

    as Larkrise said: “When winning at any cost becomes the standard, then those who subscribe to that fallacy are not offering change.”

    accept it - the time frame for “dear leaders” is over. Think of Global warming while the population continues to grow. We are sitting on a ticking bomb. We need no “better leaders to think for us, to lead us and to watch over us”…

    we need to learn ourselves - to act as intelligent swarm, not just as a brainless mass which has to be controlled by “the Holy Alpha Dog” in heaven or Earth (and not to forget, has to pay him for that selflessness)…

    and we need to learn it ASAP - because we need any ounce of intelligence and you know what Friedrich Nietzsche said (no, not the “what doesn’t kill us”-thingi):

    “One pays heavily for coming to power: power makes stupid”

  10. jmabeles Says:

    Although I agree that Bubba’s comments may be hard hitting, he is campaigning for his wife which is something we have never seen a former President do, this is new territory. For him to stay impartial in regards to his wife’s campaign, you are all dreaming because just like Obama, he wants to win. Nobody complains when folks pile on Hillary or Bill Clinton which there have been several unfair attacks. In the back of many democrats minds, they look at Bill’s philandering as worse than any of W’s shenanigans. You have been brainwashed into the Republican propaganda and act like a bunch of Joe Leibermans (aka Senator Schleprock).

    I am rather offended as a democrat that nobody is allowed to say anything about the precious Obama without being called a closet conservative or a racist. As a Democrat, Obama deserves to be treated not as a black candidate, but just like any other candidate. I fear if Obama does get the nomination, he won’t be prepared since many Democrats insist that although Obama is allowed to be bare knuckled, his his opponents are only allowed to hit Obama using kid gloves. He should be thankful to the former President for being the only one to treat him equally.

    We are voting for President of the United States. You all think President Clinton is tough on Obama, wait until you see how hard the Republican attack machine is, just ask Harold Ford and many others.

  11. alwayshope Says:

    I don’t believe we give Obama a free pass. He is to blame for the nastiness lately as much as Bill or Hillary. It is stupid to fight amongst ourselves and that’s where the frustration comes in. I will support the nominee of the Democratic party, whoever that is, but we have ample reason the deplore the way our system and the media turn this into a circus. The media refuses to give us substance if there is a haircut, pantsuit, personal insult or racism story to be found. Our candidates need to stop taking that bait and only respond to issues that are critical.

  12. VettaKing Says:

    With all the arguing and controversy going on right now in regards to Bill Clinton, Obama’s Reagan remarks, and everything else I still feel the same way about it all. Candidates rate as follows:
    1. Edwards
    2. Obama
    3. Hillary

  13. Larkrise Says:

    The last debate was a big show of “nyah, nyah, nyah, I know you are but what am I!” Years ago, there was a popular book out called: “Games People Play” It was a bestseller. One of the games was called NIGYYSOB, or Now I got you, you SOB. That is what is going on now. It isnt a pretty picture. I had to laugh when John Edwards spoke up and commented on how childish both Hillary and Obama were by focusing on personal issues and not the real issues confronting the country. If they keep it up, they may cancel each other out, and my man John might come out ahead. As Alwayshope said, the corporate-owned media loves this nastiness and will turn it into a circus. The media doesnt want to spotlight issues because they have been a very big part of the problem.

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