Is former President Bill Clinton going rogue against President Obama's presidential re-election aspirations? It looks that way if you look at mounting evidence that Clinton may be paying back the Obama campaign for the vicious 2008 primary against his wife, now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Bill Clinton is visiting the state of Wisconsin just a few days before the recall election where Gov. Scott Walker is viewed as the favorite and leading by 7 percentage points according to a recent poll conducted by Marquette University Law School. After a bruising state primary, the enthusiasm among the liberal base has waned because of the union versus establishment rift over the selection of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. For weeks now, the Wisconsin State Democratic Party has begged the Obama campaign and national Democrats for financial support to get the recall effort back on track.
Sensing a major loss coming, the last thing the White House wants to do is send in the president for fundraisers and pep rallies held in vain. Seeing this opening, Bill Clinton understands that by showing loyalty and risking political capital, he will be viewed honorably by the party faithful in a battleground state. It also sends a clear message to Democrats across the country: "President Obama is only looking out for himself and has no chits to spare. The rest of you are on your own." When Scott Walker wins, watch how Wisconsin Democrats trash the White House for leaving them out in the cold. This doesn't help Obama in a state that hasn't gone Republican since Ronald Reagan, but has a real chance to to do so this November.
Backing the soon-to-be GOP nominee former Gov. Mitt Romney's business experience is something we would expect to come from national Republicans, but not an icon of the Democratic Party. Appearing on CNN, Clinton described Mr. Romney's tenure at Bain Capital as "sterling."
"I don't think we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work, this is good work," Mr. Clinton said. "There's no question that, in terms of getting up, going to the office, and basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who's been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold."
It is simply amazing to witness a former president of the same party sweep the legs out from underneath the Obama campaign's entire campaign strategy to make Romney look like a greedy capitalist who only cares about enriching a few at the cost of a middle class work force. In a few seconds, this strategy has been flushed down the toilet now that Bill Clinton has given the Romney campaign all the ammunition it needs to shoot down these attacks. It's hard to see how the Obama team will recover from this blow and if they can do anything to get Clinton to change his tune.
Bill Clinton doesn't forget his enemies, but he definitely isn't forgetting his friends who endorsed Hillary either. In close June 5 primary match-ups, he has gone out of his way to endorse Rep. Bill Pascrell, Democrat of New Jersey, over Rep. Steve Rothman, also a Democrat. I wonder which one of these guys backed Obama in the last election. Clinton has also thrown his weight behind Rep. Brad Sherman, an early supporter of Hillary's, in his race against fellow California Democratic Rep. Howard Berman.
Whether or not Hillary is tacitly backing all of this is another question. We've all heard the line that "revenge is a dish best served cold," but Clinton is making this playbook look like a spicy, hot tamale with lots of jalapeno peppers for dessert. He has one of the most brilliant politically devious minds in modern history and it's impressive to witness the payback. Maybe it's time for another beer summit.