Tag Archives: jimmy carter

DAILY OBSERVATION: Why is Bill Clinton so damned popular?

I was recently asked why Bill Clinton is so popular.  I decided to skip the topical news of the day to give my take on that question.  Maybe I am the one to explain because I sort of like the guy, myself.

Most Republicans, and virtually all my conservative colleagues, cringe at the mere mention of his name.  After all, he is, by all accounts, a scoundrel.  His trail to the White House is scattered with serial moral lapses and a few official corruptions to boot.  He disgraced the presidency with an inappropriate, to say the least, sexual relationship with an underling. He faced the American public via television and lied, lied and lied.  He took his lies to court and turned them into perjury.

Clinton admitted he knowingly gave “misleading and evasive” answers in his sworn depositions, but in true Clinton style, he said he was not actually lying.  The authorities did not agree, and he lost his law license and his place before the Supreme Court.  He even got himself impeached.

His legacy in office is a bit thin.  In terms of foreign policy, it was more like a disaster.

So, what is there to like about the guy?

It has always been my theory that the American public can show fondness for a wide range of personalities – from the most moral to the more corrupt, as long as they are not hypocrites.

At one point in time, Jimmy Carter, the soft spoken moralist, and Governor John Connolly, the back room wheeler-dealer from Texas, were two of the most popular political figures in America.   One became President and one fell few yards short of the goal line.  Both let the public see what they were – sort of a personal transparency.

From day one on the public stage, Bill Clinton came across as the “bad boy” type.  After each moral or ethical lapse, he did not fall on the floor in tears, begging for forgiveness with promises of never doing whatever again. Nope.  He sort of shrugged his shoulders and gave us that what-can-I-say look.

He gains because of his wife.  She is an intense, scolding and overall unpleasant person.  To be frank, she gives Bill a little how-can-you-blame-him automatic forgiveness for his extracurricular actions.  Yes, he says the right things about her in public because he does what he has to do.  But he is perfectly happy traveling the world for business and pleasure sans Hillary.  If she became President, I doubt the maid would have to change the sheets in the spare bedroom of the White House very often.

You should also recall that when she was his number one policy person, driving her version of Obamacare, Clinton was not too popular.  Once that failed, and she was relegated to more traditional First Lady duties, he became a more centrist president and his numbers improved.  In some polls, his numbers were worst during Hillarycare than the impeachment.  Go figure.

I have always thought his domestic policies were not so terrible.  He kept the momentum of Reaganomics going.  He did some real reform in welfare.  He knew how to produce economic growth.  While there are always varying views on policy, Clinton did not use divisiveness as a political tool.

One thing I personally appreciate about Clinton, although it was not his intent and many will deny it even happened, but he virtually destroyed the hardliner feminist movement.  Their defense of his inappropriate behavior with Monica Lewinsky was so hypocritical – with one major feminist saying she would perform sex on him for all he did –really turned off the public.  It is not well noted, but after the ladies of the left came to his rescue, their credibility was critically damaged.  The once ubiquitous Gloria Steinems and Patricia Irelands (who?) rarely appeared in the media afterward.

After leaving office, Clinton not only used his popularity to make an enormous amount of money, but he set up a pretty good foundation dealing with world affairs.  He took on genuine charitable projects. He, and the man he defeated, George H. Bush developed a political bromance.  They appeared together soliciting aid after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.

Clinton may also be the best communicator the Democrats have.  He knows how to make sense of things.  That is why he was brought in so often by President Obama to get the talking points back on track.

Clinton, like Reagan, appreciates and respects other opinions. He does not see Republicans as enemies.  He was the other side of the coin from House Speaker Newt Gingrich when the federal government was actually working to the people’s satisfaction.

Even his sell out to Obama comes across again with a shrug of the shoulders and that sense of I-do-what-I-gotta-do.  There is no secret that he does not admire or even like Obama.  Of course, the fact that it is no secret further enhances Clinton’s popularity

Moralists, like Carter, can never achieve the level of popularity as a cleaver rogue.  Call-me-Jimmy may quote the Bible, saying we are all sinners, but he leaves the impression that he does not believe it about himself. You can admire their zeal, but you can’t help that uneasy feeling when around them.  Clinton lets you know we are all sinners by living out the role openly.  There provides a sense of mutual understanding.  Carter is the type you sit up straight in the pew next to him.  Clinton, you hang in the bar until closing time.

As long as Clinton stays safely in the range of “acceptable” transgressions, he will remain popular.  I mean, if Lewinsky had been 16 years old, it would have been a very different outcome.  He maybe a scoundrel, but as far as the public is concerned, he is a lovable scoundrel.

To me, he is an engaging conversationalist. Getting past his moral lapses, Clinton is an extreme intelligent and well informed person.  He is always on my list of people I would like to dine with – maybe not first, but on the list.