Monday, September 22, 2008

Faint Praise

From the "Strange Bedfellows file" comes this report of Bill Clinton praising Sarah Palin, albeit backhandedly:

Speaking to reporters before his Clinton Global Initiative meeting, the former president described Palin's appeal by adding, "People look at her, and they say, 'All those kids. Something that happens in everybody's family. I'm glad she loves her daughter and she's not ashamed of her. Glad that girl's going around with her boyfriend. Glad they're going to get married.'"

Clinton said voters would think, "I like that little Down syndrome kid. One of them lives down the street. They're wonderful children. They're wonderful people. And I like the idea that this guy does those long-distance races. Stayed in the race for 500 miles with a broken arm. My kind of guy."

Palin, the governor of Alaska, became an overnight star when Republican presidential candidate John McCain tapped her for his running mate. Her family, including her Down syndrome baby, Trig, her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, and her husband, Todd, four-time winner of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, have garnered intense media interest.

"I get this," Clinton said. "My view is ... why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don't we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?"

There's an art to putting one hand on the shoulder of your enemy while stabbing him in the back with the other; it's an art at which former president Bill Clinton excelled, frankly. My favorite poet would have called this an instance of damning someone with faint praise; in one fell swoop (nodding at another favorite poet) Clinton manages to dismiss Sarah Palin as a political trick while also dissing those voters too simple and naive to see through the charade. Since nobody wants to own up to being a rube, this is an effective bit of work on Bill's part; he's like the smiling neighbor in the front row of the magician's show at a traveling carnival, gently pointing out the wires and the misdirection to the simple fools who thought they were really seeing something.

If every Democrat were following Bill's lead, the Republicans might have something to worry about. But the Democrats so far continue to miss the mark in their extreme hatred for Sarah Palin and the normalcy she represents, too blind to understand that the voters Bill is gently calling dupes are the ones that the rest of them are attacking.


Babs said...

I think his praise was genuine. From his performance here and lately for the harpies at "The View" (, the only person I can see him stabbing in the back is Obama, for usurping Hillary. He's giving the green light for Hillary voters to vote republican. He actually likes McCain, and despises the new dems who actually called "The First Black President" a racist.

Bill will never forgive the Obama camp, who consider both Hill and Bill old baggage with a dirty past (they're right)!

Anonymous said...

I hardly ever listen to the nonstop political radio talkers, I like to form my own opinions. However, on a weak sports day I happened to hear about 20 mins of Glenn Beck. This was shortly after the Palin nomination. He predicted this back hand praise from the Clintons. He said they were betrayed by the media and Hollywood and this would be one way to exact some revenge. Plus, what could be a better scenario for Hillary running in 4 years. She has no chance of that if Obama is in office, but if he is defeated she will be ready in 4 years.

Wendy in VA said...

I agree w/ Anonymous. I think the Clintons want McCain/Palin to win this round. If Obama loses, his chance at the 2012 Democratic nomination is greatly diminished. And after 4 years of a female vice president (Palin), a female president (Clinton) is less of a novelty. I think the Clintons will do everything they can -- while making sure Hilary appears to be supporting Obama -- to help McCain win this election.