Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen!

Remember back in 2008 when the Obama campaign accused Bill Clinton of making racist comments? Remember when all the prog bloggers wrote that Obama didn’t want Bill Clinton hanging around the White House giving unwanted advice? My, how things have changed!

According to Joe Conason, Obama’s “campaign chiefs” secretly sneaked into Harlem last Wednesday to ask for the former President’s advice on how to get Obama re-elected.

President Obama’s top political operatives — including campaign chief adviser David Axelrod — traveled from Chicago and Washington to the headquarters of the William Jefferson Clinton foundation in Harlem last Wednesday afternoon for a meeting with the former president and two of his top aides. The topic? How to re-elect the current president — including some very specific advice from Clinton, according to sources present.

The Nov. 9 meeting, which went on for more than two hours, also included Clinton counselor Douglas Band and Justin Cooper, a senior adviser whose multiple responsibilities have included work on the former president’s memoir and last two books. Their guests were former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who is serving as Obama’s 2012 campaign manager; Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee who until recently oversaw political affairs in the White House; and Obama’s lead pollster Joel Benenson, who played the same role in the 2008 campaign.

According to Conason, the meeting was requested by Obama advisers. Much of the discussion centered on how to win in southern and southwestern battleground states “such as North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, and Arizona” that Obama won last time, but is now struggling.

Economic conditions and how to address them dominated the discussion. What most interested the Obama team were Clinton’s insights on heartland voting blocs that remain in the political middle: not the Republican-leaning independents who always end up voting for the GOP nominee, but the truly uncommitted who largely ended up supporting Obama in 2008.

Apparently Bill was told in no uncertain terms that his help is very much needed and wanted during the upcoming campaign.

Meanwhile, at the Financial Times, Edward Luce is echoing James Carville’s recent advice to Obama: Mr President, it’s time to panic. In discussing the failure and recent demotion of Obama’s latest chief of staff Bill Daley, Luce argues that Obama hasn’t learned the lesson that his campaign staff are not the best advisers on governing and policy.

On his way out, Rahm Emanuel warned Mr Daley that he would be just one among four de facto chiefs of staff, each with independent access to Mr Obama. That has proved accurate. Effective presidents rely on powerful managers, who are not obliged to compete with election consultants for the president’s ear. At a time when there is “low visibility” in the US economy, and when volatility holds the whip hand over American politics, there is greater need than ever for a leader who can focus on the bigger horizon.

It has been almost three years, and frustrated allies say that Mr Obama shows few signs of finding a learning curve. He still fails to consult widely and dislikes “reaching out” when he has to. Many Democrats have given up trying. “He doesn’t want to listen,” said one senator. “I don’t think the leopard is going to change his spots.” The plain fact is that Mr Obama prefers to campaign than govern. With the entrenched inner circle that he has, no one should be surprised by this. Whether or not Mr Obama can eke out a victory next year, it would be optimistic to expect things to change radically in a second term.

Will Obama be able to learn from Bill Clinton’s advice? My guess is the focus will be on taking advantage of Clinton’s skills as a campaigner rather than listening to the wisdom he gained during eight years in the White House and as a world leader.\

21 Comments on “Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen!”

  1. deadenders says:

    So wish Bill would tell them to pound sand.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Bill is a Democrat and wants a Democrat in the White House–even a weak Democrat like Obama.

      • paper doll says:

        Problem is , Obama is not a Democrat. …He and Mittens are two peas in a pod working together …and it will be Mittens pretending to run on the GOP ticket after all the cartoon crazy GOP stuff is over

        okay so here is another news item that makes me worried Hillary will be Obama’s VP. In one news day they have gathered in 2/3rds of Hill’s 08 team head liners.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Doyle McManus: Can Obama be more like Bill Clinton?

    Clinton’s book doesn’t argue that Obama is wrong on substance; quite the contrary. But its unmistakable subtext is that Obama, unlike Clinton, has failed to make Democratic policies palatable to voters, and as a result, many of them are migrating to the Republican alternative.

    “I do think the president has done a better job than he’s gotten credit for,” Clinton said on MSNBC. “But Americans hire presidents to win for them.” Ouch!

    Former presidents don’t normally offer political advice to their successors in books; traditionally, they do it in private. Obama has sought Clinton’s advice on several occasions, but it sounds as if the former president isn’t sure
    the current one was listening.

    Besides, Clinton says he was so upset by the Democrats’ failure to present a persuasive message in the 2010 congressional elections that he needed to put his ideas on paper — to help them avoid a repeat debacle in 2012.

  3. Fannie says:

    Tell you with the Surpremes taking on the Health Care case in March, somebody might be blowing in the wind come election 2012…………..so to speak.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Where else would you go to but the best, smartest, and most savvy politician of the century then Bill Clinton?

    If there is anybody out there who can “save his bacon” it’s Bill.

    We have yet to see another “brainiac” in the WH with his skills and we lost the opportunity to have Hillary -considered to be even smarter – to complete the package.

    God, I hate reminding myself of that.

  5. janicen says:

    Of course, one always has to be suspicious about who leaked the story. If it was a secret meeting, it’s clearly not a very well kept secret. I don’t believe that Clinton’s people leaked the story, he doesn’t need it. I do believe that Obama’s people leaked the story to appeal to Clinton supporters and fans. It’s a smart move. I think if Al Gore would have done it in 2000, he would have glided into the White House, and we’d all be a lot better off.

  6. ralphb says:

    Where Obama needs the most help from Bill is in governing the country, not in the politics. If Bill helps with getting things done, the whole country is aided and Obama will get re-elected as a consequence.

    Frankly, the Republican insane clown posse does not inspire confidence in any way at all!

    • janicen says:

      I agree. With the slate of candidates the GOP is offering, the election should be a piece of cake for Obama. Obama needs more help when it comes to presidentin’.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      But I will miss them when they are gone.

      Like a traveling vaudeville show with something for everybody!

      Can’t imagine anything duller than 12 months of Mitt or Newt when this cast of characters fade into history.

      • ralphb says:

        At this point, I’ve decided to wait on 2016 and hope someone good runs then. It I can make it that long that is.

  7. Peggy Sue says:

    Quelle surprise. Obama likes campaigning more than governing. How many of us on this board could have predicted that line back in 2008? As for Bill Clinton? With all his warts, he is one of the most, if not ‘the’ most talented politician of his generation. I think that’s why the Republicans hated him so–they couldn’t outfox him. Though I know Clinton would prefer a Dem in the WH [definition of which is perverted by Obama], I personally wish he had told the ‘O” aides to “read the book.”

    The only thing POTUS has going for him is the woefully lame group of GOP contenders. Although it appears that Mitt Romney will likely nab the nomination, I’m sure the Obama kill-machine will be in full force. It may not be enough this time. And if Romney takes it? We’re just marking time until 2016 in addition to a miserable round of SCOTUS candidates. At least, Obama came out and clearly said ‘waterboarding’ is wrong. Couldn’t believe the number of GOP candidates hopping on the torture train or Michelle Bachmann claiming that the ACLU had been given rein over the CIA. What planet is this woman operating from? Or is this how desperation sounds.

  8. ralphb says:

    Sometimes a winger like Sen Tom Coburn gets a clue. This would be a good place for Obama to plant his flag and stick on it.

    Welfare for Millionaires

    From unemployment payments to subsidies and tax breaks on luxury items like vacation homes and yachts, Americans earning more than $1 million collect more than $30 billion in government largesse each year, according to the report assembled by Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, who is so often at odds with members of both parties that colleagues call him “Dr. No.” The Internal Revenue Service provided the data showing how much money was going to the much-referenced top 1 percent.
    The biggest money comes—or goes, rather—through unpaid taxes. More than 1,500 millionaires paid no income tax last year, according to federal records, mainly due to tax loopholes and savvy accountants. Tax breaks taken by millionaires on things like mortgage interest ($27.7 billion), rental expenses ($64.2 billion) and electric vehicles ($12.5 million) keep cash from entering the federal coffers.

    “The country is sucking wind right now,” Coburn says. “We end up subsidizing the very wealthy and not helping the ones who really need the help.” The Oklahoman is one of few Republicans who support tax increases as part of a plan to reduce the deficit. Meanwhile, antitax activist Grover Norquist, a frequent nemesis for Coburn, says the whole system is too complex, and too unfair, and that lawmakers need to get rid of loopholes and to lower rates across the board.
    Yet the crux of the argument—that millionaires are using the social safety net as a luxury hammock—fuels an ongoing campaign by the White House to raise some taxes on top earners. “Republicans need to stop supporting tax breaks for the richest Americans so we can use some of that money to create jobs and reduce the deficit,” says White House spokesperson Amy Brundage. Or as Obama likes to put it, folks like him can afford to give more and take less.

  9. northwestrain says:

    Clinton keeps his friends. 0bama poops on “friends” — or tosses them under the bus.

  10. dakinikat says:

    Sharon Bialek’s ex backs her claim against Herman Cain

    The former boyfriend of a woman who accuses Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of groping her has corroborated her story.

  11. madamab says:

    If there is a savvier politician on the planet than Bill Clinton, I don’t know who it is. I am quite sure he knew Obama would be coming to him after an epic governing FAIL.

    I wish Clinton would just tell Obi “WTF” Kenobi to go f*ck himself, but I’m sure Bill is too terrified by the thought of a Mittens presidency to do anything but give Obama his best advice.

    If it were me, I might be tempted to do a little sabotage. 👿