The sidelining of Bill Clinton

There was a time -- and it was a loooooong time -- when Bill Clinton was the most sought-after surrogate in the Democ...

Posted: May 22, 2018 10:01 AM
Updated: May 22, 2018 10:01 AM

There was a time -- and it was a loooooong time -- when Bill Clinton was the most sought-after surrogate in the Democratic Party.

The former president could go to almost any congressional district in the country -- urban/rural, Republican/Democrat -- and be an asset to a candidate or congressman. His charisma, brain and speaking abilities ensured that people would leave the town hall/fundraiser/meet-and-greet wowed by him.

Those days appear to have come to an end.

These two paragraphs -- from a terrific story by The New York Times' Alex Burns and Matt Flegenheimer -- are devastating.

"Mrs. Clinton's husband appears far less welcome on the trail, with his unpopularity among Republicans compounded by-new skepticism on the left-about his treatment of women and allegations of sexual assault.

"Mr. Clinton is said to remain passionately angry about the 2016 election -- more so than his wife -- raising concerns that he could go wildly off message in campaign settings, several people who have spoken with Mr. Clinton said."

That is tough stuff. But it reflects a broader reality, which is that Bill Clinton is simply a man out of this current time and place in politics. His past sexual indiscretions make him a ripe target in our #MeToo moment. His ongoing bitterness toward, among others, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is not only backward looking, but politically problematic due to Sanders' hero status among liberals within the party.

Clinton's sidelining is an especially humbling pill to swallow for someone who is not only widely acknowledged -- by Democrats and Republicans -- as the brightest political talent of his generation but also someone who lives and breathes politics like few others.

Clinton is, of course, nothing if not resilient -- having ridden the waves of public opinion through a series of ups and downs beginning in the 1970s. His own past history suggests that the self-proclaimed "Comeback Kid" should never be counted out entirely.

But, but, but. Clinton's diminished role -- internally and externally -- within his own party marks a moment for Democrats. No figure -- and certainly no family -- in recent memory has been so closely associated with the Democratic Party as Bill Clinton. That he is largely an undesirable figure to the new faces of the party speaks volumes.

The Point: The 2020 Democratic primary fight will be the true marker of what a party that has put Clintonism entirely behind it will look like. At the moment, the energy among Democrats appears to be almost entirely among liberals, while the Third Way/centrist path trod by Clinton feels almost entirely discarded.

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Olmsted225327
Nobles192016
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Chisago4211
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Goodhue3219
Martin2909
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 78552

Reported Deaths: 1255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15133256
Johnson496227
Woodbury486561
Black Hawk431686
Linn3722105
Story326317
Scott271227
Dubuque266140
Dallas265338
Pottawattamie195137
Buena Vista193312
Marshall175634
Sioux12753
Wapello124357
Webster118414
Muscatine105452
Clinton104618
Plymouth100120
Cerro Gordo98621
Crawford9804
Warren9226
Jasper74232
Des Moines7247
Marion7014
Tama68531
Carroll6275
Henry5974
Lee5857
Wright5571
Dickinson4756
Bremer4597
Boone4557
Washington42711
Louisa41915
Franklin33117
Mahaska32619
Delaware3183
Hamilton3143
Jackson2923
Floyd2913
Winneshiek2835
Benton2781
Clay2773
Hardin2731
Winnebago26211
Butler2572
Clarke2533
Emmet24810
Shelby2411
Jones2393
Allamakee2375
Poweshiek2368
Lyon2323
Buchanan2291
Clayton2273
Cedar2171
Guthrie2115
Kossuth2090
Chickasaw2030
Grundy2002
Madison1992
Sac1980
Cherokee1792
Howard1795
Iowa1791
Fayette1781
Mitchell1750
Hancock1712
Harrison1692
Humboldt1693
Calhoun1672
Mills1621
Palo Alto1560
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Monroe14410
Page1410
Lucas1386
Jefferson1321
Cass1282
Monona1281
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Taylor1191
Union1193
Davis1134
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Keokuk891
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