He proposed Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a solution to a problem and the result was thousands of gay soldiers thrown out of the military. He blew a chance to reform healthcare with classic hubris and bad judgment. He decimated the radio and TV industries and was the godfather of Hanbaugh and the rest. He signed NAFTA and GATT (North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) into law, both of which turned out to be a disaster for American workers, the environment and the international labor movement. He eliminated the last firewall between rapacious bankers and their depositor's money when he signed the repeal of Glass/Stiegel. He reformed welfare into welfare for work, ignoring critics who asked him what would happen to welfare recipients if the jobs dried up. His foray into Somalia was a disaster and his sexual scandal guaranteed the election of George Bush. In 2008, his race-tinged comments, in the Democratic presidential primary campaign, doomed his wife's candidacy among many African Americans and independents. I wish Bill Clinton could have tried to get the Democratic nomination for a third term just so I could have voted against him and publically deny him any more of a role in government. Now, I watch him undercut and undermine and throw grenades into the Obama camp and I am not at all surprised.
As Obama draws contrasts between himself and Mitt Romney, by highlighting Romney's record at Bain Capital and his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, Clinton publically defends Romney's time at Bain as a record of great competence and he defends the private equity industry, which has destroyed far more jobs than, have ever been created. What's he doing? Why is her doing his best to dilute Obama's message and why would he go public with his disagreements even if they were genuine?
Right now there is no clear heir to Obama in the Democratic ranks. If Obama is re-elected, he cannot run in 2016 and if he is defeated this year, someone new has to run against Romney in 2016. There is no obvious choice. Biden would be too old. There are no Senators or members of the House with a national standing and following. New York governor Andrew Cuomo doesn't seem temper mentally ready for the big stage, and California governor Jerry Brown wouldn't stand a chance. The one person who might have the heft is Hillary Clinton. If Obama is re-elected, Clinton will probably step down as Secretary of State, allowing her to lay the groundwork for a possible run. By 2016, the nation will have had eight years of a Democratic administration and it will be harder for her to ask for 4 more years. However, if Obama is defeated...Romney takes over and takes a meat axe to the social safety net while starting new wars and taking care of his 1% fellow-travelers. A Hillary candidacy could make a strong argument for change and change is the most powerful ammunition to use against an incumbent.
Bill Clinton knows all of this and he also knows he has to tread lightly so as not to alienate the Democratic base like he did in 2008. He is a smart politician, and he knows a few words here, a comment there, can subtly undercut Obama's message. He knows the election will be decided on a razor-thin margin and all he has to do is nudge it a little.
Is it all about Hillary? No. Clinton is also in the 1% and he depends on them to contribute funds to his charitable foundation. His ego is so outsized he was willing to sacrifice his presidency for romp with a White House intern. His ability to travel the world righting wrongs, and playing white knight on his trusted stead, is an addiction he cannot shake. He needs Wall Street. He needs Bain Capital and the private equity moguls. He is one of them. His economic team as President was taken right out of companies like Goldman Sachs and he was quite comfortable deregulating them and then sitting back and watching them lead us into a great depression. He cannot afford to be seen biting the hand that feeds him and there is the added benefit of getting revenge on the man who crushed his wife and put her in a position of serving at his pleasure. Clinton would love her to get another shot at the White House.
With friends like Bill Clinton, Obama doesn't need enemies. There is no explanation for the former president's comments except for pure spite, venality and self-preservation. Obama cannot afford to dress him down in public. When advisers confronted Clinton, he gave his version of, "...What? Oh me bad."
There isn't anything Obama can do but grin and bear it. However, disappointing the man from Hope would be a delicious benefit to an Obama victory.
P.S. You don't think Newark mayor Corey Booker's defense of private equity has anything to do with the $100 million from Facebook do you? Democrats can be their own worst enemies.