Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Clinton speaks out - get over it

To all those carping about speaking out over the past week, in the course of promoting the Clinton Global Initiative, and in particular, on the Sunday talk shows, under the guise of protecting some unwritten protocol of former Presidents and what they should or should not do...a few thoughts:
  • To be frank, there is a leadership vacuum in the Bush administration that becomes more evident each day. People are not getting it from W. Listen to what George Voinovich, the Republican Senator from Ohio, had to say on the issue of paying for Katrina:
    "Many of us think that we need to step back and look at what we're doing and reevaluate it," Voinovich said. But he added that "someone has to look at the big picture" -- and that someone should be the president. "The vision is missing," Voinovich said.
    Clinton is a reassuring voice to many Americans and as well, to the rest of the world that has watched the aftermath of the disaster unfold. A national leader who gets it, albeit a former office holder. Clinton likely senses the leadership vacuum in the present administration and he made a judgment to speak his mind. This article is further evidence of this latent sentiment about Clinton in the wake of Katrina.

  • There is not only a confused White House, there is also a leadership vacuum in the Democratic party. Who is their leader? Where is the unity? Why aren't they articulating a coherent plan as the "loyal opposition" as Clinton started to do on Sunday? He clearly recognizes that the hurricane disaster(s) have crystallized the issues and differences between the two parties. Simply put, you can't do it all without sacrifices - the Bush tax cuts look ridiculous at this stage. So stand up Democrats and say it. This was likely part of his message, a challenge to Democrats as much as any criticism of the President.

  • In the wake of Katrina, with the war in Iraq continuing and the deficit ballooning, surely one could say that it is an extraordinary set of circumstances. Ordinarily, over Bush's first years, Clinton did not speak out about political matters or issues and declined to do so regularly. He has been a "good soldier" in the former President's club and has been used by W as a political asset from time to time - with the tsunami relief effort and of late, the Katrina fund. But maybe in light of the extraordinary circumstances, and out of concern for perceptions of U.S. leadership from both abroad and domestically, the imperative to speak up on what should be done to right the ship of state outweighs the political niceties of the former President's club.

  • Clinton's speaking out is simply a reflection of the changed state of affairs with W's Presidency - and those who criticized him for doing so still don't get the seachange that is taking place...the pressure not to speak (Ari Fleischer) and the manipulation of the press (via tidbits) have reached the water's edge. For the first time, really, in five years, people are free to speak their minds about W without being excoriated as unpatriotic. Why there is something wrong with that is beyond me...
Message: get over it, there are bigger issues and challenges to deal with in the world today...