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.