The Bill Factor

By Theresa Cook

Jan 10, 2008 11:26am

On CNN’s Inside Edition Tuesday, former Bill Clinton/Al Gore senior strategist Donna Brazile expressed some disappointment at the comments the former President made about Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, at Dartmouth College the other day.

Read more about those comments HERE and read the whole CNN interview with Brazile HERE.

Back on Tuesday — when everyone thought Clinton was about to lose New Hampshire (including, obviously, the Clintons) — Brazile said that Bill Clinton "shouldn’t take out all his pain on Barack Obama… It sounds like sour grapes coming from the former commander in chief, someone that many Democrats hold in high esteem. For him to go after Obama, using ‘fairy tale’, calling him a ‘kid,’ as he did last week, it’s an insult. And I tell you, as an African- American, I find his words and his tone to be very depressing."

Appearing on CNN alongside conservative commentator Bill Bennett, Brazile said "If Bill Bennett had said some of the things Bill Clinton is saying about Barack Obama, I would have called Bill Bennett out of his name and said that Bill Bennett should shut his mouth, because he is — is — is not speaking in the right tone. I think his tone. I think calling Barack Obama a kid. He is a United States senator. He’s experienced. The people of Illinois elected him. And, regardless of what kind of items are on his resume, this is a man who has worked all his life. He’s proven — he’s been a college professor."

"I don’t have to give Barack Obama’s resume. I’m not for anyone at this point. But I think, for Bill Clinton to go out of his way to become a distraction to Hillary Clinton and to launch the kind of attacks on Obama, it’s just out of character for Bill Clinton. I think it’s time that he helps Hillary talk about her message and not go down this road."

Writes a reader to AndrewSullivan.com:

"I won’t soon forget the sight of Bill Clinton – after all, still the titular head of the party – savagely attacking Obama’s integrity at Dartmouth. Can anyone imagine, say, Harry Truman in 1960 traveling to West Virginia to deliver such a blast against John Kennedy? Or Lyndon Johnson in 1972 visiting New Hampshire to issue such a deeply personal, highly public condemnation of George McGovern? And yet virtually no one in the party suggested that he might have behaved inappropriately.

"I’m a lifelong Democrat who has never voted Republican for any office in my life. But in a McCain-Clinton contest, I’d vote for McCain. Though I disagree with him on many issues, at least he has integrity."

What do you think? Did you see racial overtones in what Clinton said? (For the record, I did not. But I am as white as the day is long.) Do you think the former president has damaged his credibility or behaved in a manner unbecoming a former president?

– jpt

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