KERNS: Cameras ready? Clintons gone wild!



Bryan Kerns

I was committed to not writing about politics this week until last Sunday morning, when I was watching “Meet the Press” on NBC and actually heard Maureen Dowd say something intelligent – yes, folks, I know, shocking.

The New York Times opinion columnist-turned-wannabe-sexpot referenced a headline on The headline read, “Bill Clinton: ‘Screw it, I’m running for President.’ “

In the last two weeks the 42nd president of the United States has been unleashed and appears to have come unglued. The former president – who by all current accounts is running his wife’s campaign – made a good tactical decision to insert himself into the race.

By doing so, he forced Obama to run against both the message of Hillary’s future and the positive legacy of Bill’s past.

However, that’s where the wheels came off. Had the former president simply stayed on message and given his speeches in line with Hillary’s stump, he could have played up all the triumphant images of his presidency without even mentioning the tragedies.

Instead, he turned on Obama like a rabid dog and launched into personal attacks against a man whose message is overwhelmingly positive.

It appeared that Bill got into Obama’s head and kept him tied up in South Carolina, while Hillary was able to move on to campaigning in Super Tuesday states.

Bill’s strategic decision failed on two accounts. First, his wife got obliterated in South Carolina by a margin of slightly more than 2-to-1 – a clear repudiation of the mud-slinging war that the Clinton campaign drew Obama into and the attempt to define Obama as the “black” candidate.

Second, there was no subtlety involved in this mud-slinging war, and everyone knew that Bill took the first shot.

The opening shots of this war have caused and will cause more prominent Beltway Democrats, who have often been ill-at-ease with the Clintons’ presumption of party ownership, to migrate to the Obama camp at a time when Hillary needs as many of them as she can get.

In a way, though, the Clintons may have achieved their purpose by bringing Obama into a negative campaign.

He may be forced to abandon the overriding message of hope that has guided his campaign in order to combat the sundry charges surely to be levied as Bill and Hillary attempt to prolong their reign of terror over the Democratic race.

What all this means is that the next few days leading up to Super Tuesday are going to be a bloodbath, the likes of which have not been seen since the election of 1800, when, at the behest of Thomas Jefferson, James Callender wrote that John Adams was “a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

The logical next question is: Who is to blame for the lowering of what once appeared to be a transformative race transcending the standard pedantry associated with presidential elections in this country?

The answer, of course, is William Jefferson Clinton. Not since Jefferson has there been such a tactically sound politician, and not since Jefferson commissioned Callender has one taken such a disappointing and tawdry approach to winning an election.

It is that very approach that smacks of Jeffersonian arrogance.

It would seem that the country is ready for a new approach to things. The bitter partisanship in Washington and dearth of government action in the face of the pressing problems of the normal American over the last 16 years leads one to the conclusion that the country is ready for something different.

Bill failed to realize that and decided to bait Obama into a street fight. Instead of finding success, he got upbraided by the people of South Carolina and the media.

Any attempt to turn the campaign around into a message of positivity will again be seen as political opportunism and again be called into question by the public.

Right now, it’s impossible to tell who’s going to get the Democratic nomination. That being said, a few things appear certain.

First, if Hillary’s campaign self-destructs once and for all, it will be because of Bill’s scorched-earth strategy.

Second, Bill has shown himself to be outmoded, and Hillary would be wise to put him back in his cage.

Obama has the opportunity to vanquish the Clintons once and for all. For the good of the country, and more importantly, for their own good, let’s hope he does.


Bryan Kerns is a freshman from Drexel Hill, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].