Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bill's "Temper"

Talk show hosts and members of the anti-Clinton camp have been leveling a lot of criticism at Bill Clinton over the past week after he lashed out at some pro-life activists who were protesting at a rally for his wife (here is a link to the video for those who haven't seen it). Many people have made a case that Bill has done more to hurt Hillary's campaign than to help it. That's just blatantly untrue.

The criticism of Bill for "losing his temper" at the pro-lifers is completely unfair. How exactly would one expect him to act in that situation? He didn't become physically aggressive, he didn't curse. He just raised his voice and was very firm with a couple people who are, frankly, idiots.

I have no problem with people who take a pro-life stance on abortion. It's not a viewpoint I agree with, but I certain respect people's right to feel that way. What I don't respect is the way these people chose to express their views. Taking signs to a rally for a liberal candidate that is sure to be filled with a bunch of hardcore pro-choice people and heckling the speaker are not actions that are going to get people to sympathize with your viewpoint. All it will do is build more animosity around a topic that is already very contentious in this country. I think Bill was perfectly within his rights to lash out at these people, and to be honest I thought he kept his temper in check pretty well.

Furthermore, the idea that Bill is hurting Hillary's campaign is nonsense. He was an extremely well-liked President, and having him as a surrogate who can go around and preach Hillary's message and draw support is of crucial importance. The media choose to blow his minor run-ins with hecklers out of proportion, but I don't think there's any questioning the amount of good he has done for his wife's campaign.


Nick M. said...

I'm going to have to go ahead and um disagree with you there Nick. I think that there is at least a good argument to be made that Bill has hurt Hilary's campaign at certain points. Her loss in South Carolina was by a pretty wide margin that frankly surprised a lot of people. I would be tempted to say that Bill didn't help by trying to introduce race as an issue into the campaign. Your certainly right to point out that he brings a lot of credibility with him and people still like him, but I can't agree that he's been a consistent positive influence in the campaign. Of course, if you respond that the media has created the "attack dog" image, you're probably right as well. Good start to a discussion.

Nick N. said...

I would argue that Hillary's failures up until this point have been due her inability to captivate people the way Obama has. I hardly think that can be pinned on Bill. The idea that Bill tried to make things about race is a little dubious in my mind.

Nick M. said...

You might be right to approach it from a certain angle; that is, Hilary isn't very exciting, so whatever Bill does, sometimes negative albeit, is good for Hilary because he is much better at capturing the attention of Americans. I'll grant you that. But perhaps it was a mistake to place so much emphasis on Bill. That is, the whole "two for the price of one" premise in some ways openly concedes the point that Hilary can't win on her own. This is, of course, another point that I can't really prove, but I think its something worth consider. From that vantage point, Bill's large presence can be seen as a negative to Hilary's chances of winning. Hilary, in some ways, might just as well tell the country that she can't do it on her own. That doesn't sound like a very convincing sell to me.