Monday, June 30, 2008

Flashback: Benazir Bhutto’s Advice to Hillary and Bill Clinton

The punditry’s continuing hypocrisy in its coverage of Bill Clinton in the 2008 campaign can only be described as disgraceful. I’m reminded of an interview with the late Benazir Bhutto published in New York Magazine last October.

Speaking to Jennifer Senior, Bhutto offered some advice to Hillary Clinton who was then on the campaign trail. Her words to Hillary now seem prescient on such topics as whether or not to portray her “nurturing” side, responding to criticism of her clothes, and dealing with the attacks from other women in power - I’m thinking of the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Arianna Huffington, and Maureen Dowd.

Bhutto also had some advice for Bill: “All I can tell him is that either way, you won’t win. Not if you disappear and not if you’re there campaigning. He’ll have to go by his instincts.”

Bhutto’s comment nailed it. The media caricatured the former president throughout the Democratic primary, blatantly targeting him at times in order to shaft Hillary. This first became apparent shortly after Hillary humiliated the punditry by winning in New Hampshire despite its predictions of an Obama sweep.

Even while choking on apologies for having already attempted to force Hillary out of the race, the media’s next viral non-story was an absurd distortion of Bill’s comments about Obama’s deceptive presentation of his early opposition to the Iraq War resolution, seldom bothering to mention the senate vote occurred before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Bill additionally sinned in the media’s eyes by correctly pointing out that Obama’s votes on war-related matters have since been identical to Hillary’s.

Thereafter, the media routinely ridiculed Bill as he stumped for Hillary, seldom mentioning that he was instrumental in several of her big wins toward the end of the Democratic primary, even before the late Tim Russert, now spoken of as “his holiness,” had declared Obama the nominee.

Over at CBS, Bob Schieffer, posing as a licensed psychotherapist, suggested that Bill might be deliberately trying to undermine Hillary’s campaign.

The media became increasingly infantile as the campaign wore on, obviously unable to cope with the unnerving success of a strong, competent, and electrifying female candidate who, in spite of the unrelenting assault of sexism and misogyny, would ultimately win the popular vote in the Democratic primary.

Lately, Obama has had to face the reality that so far only 56% of Hillary’s 18 million supporters have fallen in line behind him as the presumptive nominee; hence, the sweetness and light of the Unity event in New Hampshire that appears to have been made noteworthy by the absence of guess who? Former President Bill Clinton.

Our ever astute punditry has been toying publicly with the notion that just maybe Bill was still upset about the Obama campaign’s over-the-top efforts to label him a racist and the repeated attacks on the legacy of his administration. Really, what was there for Bill to be upset over?

Now for today’s breaking news: Obama was finally able to call Bill and engage in a 20-minute phone conversation with him. The LATimes reports:

‘“Clinton's communications director, Matt McKenna, described the call as ‘a very good conversation’ and said Clinton ‘renewed his offer to do whatever he can to ensure Sen. Obama is our next president. President Clinton continues to be impressed by Senator Obama and the campaign he has run, and looks forward to campaigning for and with him in the months to come.’

‘“Added Obama spokesman Bill Burton: ‘Senator Obama had a terrific conversation with President Clinton and is honored to have his support in this campaign. He has always believed that Bill Clinton is one of this nation's great leaders and most brilliant minds, and looks forward to seeing him on the campaign trail and receiving his counsel in the months to come.’”

Well, as boring as the early weeks of the general election have been without Hillary Clinton’s presence on the trail, I guess the above telephone conversation deserves all the play our dysfunctional, good old boy press corps is giving it.

If you really want to read something interesting, follow the link to the Benazir Bhutto interview in New York Magazine.


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