Bob Franken

The Clinton Dillema

The Clinton Dillema

Posted January 27, 2008 | 11:37 AM (EST)

The Republicans have a huge advantage in the primaries: None of them needs to engage in racial politics…well there is their anti-immigrant bigotry… but I mean against each other. It’s white guy against white guy. And because they don’t have to play that game, they don’t have to deny that they are. That sets them apart from certain Democrats.

Both parties do have one huge similarity: They each have to deal with their last President, past or present.

For the Republican candidates, the solution has been easy: They simply ignore George W. Bush. You’d think that would be a teeny bit difficult, considering he’s still the leader-of-the-free-world, etc, but they’ve been able to pull it off, by all uttering those magical two words: “Ronald Reagan”. The 40th President has made the 43rd a distant memory. Amazing.

Democrats have not been so lucky. Bill Clinton just won’t go away. More and more, this year’s candidate is not called “Hillary”, which is her name, in case you’ve forgotten, but “Billary”.

The problem is that Bill seems to have become a problem. He is overshadowing his wife and the possibility she could be the nation’s first woman President. Many feel his conduct as he campaigns on her behalf has been downright goofy and mean-spirited.

Whether those criticisms are fair, Bill Clinton appears to have knocked himself off the pedestal that is reserved for the nation’s past chief executives. Rightly or wrongly, voters are reminded of the Clinton White House soap operas. People wonder whether his place in the next one would be an obstacle to President HILLARY Clinton because he would be such a distraction.

That’s pure speculation, of course, but his aggressive, and some say, unsavory role in the campaign, has fueled that kind of talk.

Plain and simply, his conduct became an issue in the South Carolina primary. That and the pathetic attempt by the Clintons to use that same Ronald Reagan against Obama.

While it’s true Barack Obama won the South Carolina race (no pun intended) , it’s even more true that the Clintons lost it, by ceding the high road.

If theor tacticians assigned Bill Clinton him this role, on purpose, as some of them have claimed, they need to be replaced. Immediately. Otherwise they will forfeit the nomination to Obama.

That would mean the Republicans would have to have to go to “Plan B” (for “Barack”, of course) and decide what kind of smear campaign they’ll run against Obama, instead of Clinton.

It will be a dirty election race this Fall, no doubt about it. The Democrats would be wise to avoid the same kind of ugliness while competing to head their party’s ticket. Someone will have to ry and figure out how to win honorably. Or no one will win.

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