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Clinton on Clinton and Togetherness

By Anne E. Kornblut
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Bill Clinton, national healer? That was the man Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton described here this morning in the wake of reports that her husband had compared her chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, to the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Clinton denied that her husband had been adding to harmful divisions within the Democratic party with recent statements about Sen. Barack Obama. In fact, Clinton said, her husband was someone who "brought our country together" when he was president. He was, she said, a president who sought to "repair the breaches and mend the divides" between blacks and whites by defending affirmative action and creating a commission on civil rights.

"I think Americans from every community know what his life's work has been," Clinton said in a news conference at the Peabody Hotel here.

Badly stung by her decisive defeat in South Carolina on Saturday, Clinton appeared determined but subdued in her appearance with reporters and on CBS' Face the Nation. She smiled little, showing hardly any of the enjoyment that she has at other moments in the race (although she did encourage reporters to go view the resident ducks at the hotel, known for their procession through the lobby twice a day).

As Clinton increasingly revisits the 1990s -- most recently in a debate over whether her husband had bigger ideas than Republicans over the past 10 to 15 years or the impact of Ronald Reagan -- she is at times reinterpreting the history of the era to match the twists and turns of the current race. On Sunday, she said that her husband's "life work has been bringing people together" -- a comment that seemed to overlook the sharp divisions that defined the 1990s, when he was president.

Asked about the polarization of that time, Clinton said it was a byproduct of her husband's effort to make improvements. "I believe that his policies have always aimed at trying to lift up people, give people a chance to fulfill their God-given potential. And people knew that, people understood it. You know, Bill and I, ever since we met in law school, have been committed to giving voice to the voiceless and empowering the dis-empowered and bringing hope to the hopeless." She added: "We don't just talk about it -- we have done it." And as part of that, Clinton said, she and her husband "withstood a lot of the negative response that that sometimes engendered." And yet, she said, "I believe I stand on my own merits."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 27, 2008; 12:35 PM ET
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Jabeles jabbers on about the unfair use of race in the campaign by Obama and his "surrogates." Of course, the surrogate he chose was Donna Brazil, a Black woman, and not Ted Kennedy (or other possible "surrogates") who is white. In the very criticisms that are made of Obama race is subtly injected. Was it Obama who brought Martin Luther King into the conversation in New Hampshire? Was it Obama who talked about a "hit" being put out during the South Carolina primary? Was it Obama who compared his victory in South Carolina to the victory of Jesse Jackson in 1984? I am sure that Toni Morrison rues the day she called Clinton the first Black president, a bit of poetic license which should have been revoked long ago. Was it Obama who said that Clinton was more of a black man than Obama was (it was Andrew Young who made that assinine remark)? What we are witnessing is the frustration of the padrones of the socialist left who can't stand it that their clients are actually thinking and acting on their own. That so many white Americans (among whom I count myself - that is until I have Toni Morrison say otherwise) can rationalize their support for the dynamic duo of duplicity is the great shame of this political season.

Posted by: comsense121 | January 29, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I believe it was Donna Brazil and other Obama surrogates who first came out suggesting that Hillary's comments about MLK and the civil rights movement were basically racist--or at least disrespectful--and then a few other heavily parsed comments. But at that point, there was no discussion of "code words." Just a bunch of flurries setting the stage for the larger issue of race the Obama campaign would use to its advantage in S. Carolina.

We should note that when Obama compares himself to MLK it's not racist (or hubris) but when someone else compares him to MLK, or another person of color, it is racist. In S. Carolina, it was Obama who asked the half-joking question as to Bill's "dancing abilities," which I found offensive, " determine whether he was a BROTHER."

Of course, by phrasing it in that way, he was making the (coded?) statement to the people of S. Carolina that, in fact, HE (and not the Clintons) is a BROTHER. So the question is whether he made those statements, and many other subtle statements along the trail, to exploit race. And I believe any reasonably objective person would have to come to the conclusion he did. If not, then you have to be a hypocrite or an idiot.

If the Obama campaign wants race out of the contest, they merely have to stop talking about it where it suits their political purposes, and jumping on other's comments as racist when it equally serves their political purposes.

Posted by: jabeles | January 29, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Straight from the Ministry of Propaganda. The Clintons are a piece of work, leaving generations of con-men standing in awe. Hillary makes these statements in public and not in front of her bathroom mirror and expects that there are other sentient beings who will fail to recognize narcissistic BS when they hear it. Bill brought people together! - my day is made.

Posted by: comsense121 | January 29, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't so much matter whether you're for Hillary, Barack, both, or neither. The contest--at the *primary* level--has gotten dirty. We must acknowledge the media's part in this, and our own attraction to ugly scenes, and carefully consider whether the candidates' remarks and actions have been taken out of context.

In a strange way, it's almost as though we want to see a vicious contest. Whether we really do or not, the purveyors of content seem to think that we do--or at least that we'll tune in, or listen, or pick up a magazine or paper to read if they continue to focus on the negative aspects of political campaigns.

The American colonies were coveted by European powers in large part because of the rich market they represented. This remains our strength. Notice how the upset over our economy stretches around the world. We speak, second by second, with what we believe in and what we buy. Let us step back and carefully consider the major purchase we're about to make. We'll be stuck with it for at least four years, and the return policy is complicated.

Posted by: brad | January 29, 2008 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is a brilliant woman who can stand on her own. She needs to send Bill Clinton home and tape his mouth shut.

Mr. Obama will probably grow into his dream of becoming president. Currently he is a whiner. Perhaps in eight years he will be ready to take on this enormous task.

I read the column twice to try and determine what it is Kornblut is saying.
All I gathered is she is anti-Clinton.

Posted by: Kansas28 | January 28, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Have we all finally had enough of Hillary and Bill Clinton? Is the Democratic Party energized finally to that crescendo moment that propels all of America to those greater heights we all dream of?

Even in the aftershock of a decisive Obama landslide victory in South Carolina, Hillary and Bill are right back to the playbook of dirty tricks that we are all so accustomed to by now.

Bill Clinton's latest derision of Barack Obama; that Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina before, so let's look to February 5th when millions of Americans will weigh in on this election. As if to say South Carolina really doesn't count and those are the folks that voted for Jesse Jackson's failed candidacy.

And then there was Hillary, one sentence after her disingenuous congratulatory remark for Obama, proclaiming "On to Florida!". That's right, Florida. A state along with Michigan that the candidates had already agreed would not become part of the delegate equation because of rules and scheduling. Kind of reminds me of what happened in Nevada with the Caucus locations on the Las Vegas strip.

Do you ever get the feeling that there is nothing the Clintons wouldn't do to get their way. I actually fear the Clintons almost as much as the other side. In this frightening brave new world, will we remain entrenched with the policies and tactics that are more closely analogous to the constructs of neo conservatism or will we free ourselves from the chains of fascism and oppression, now and forever.

The Clintons must see the writing on the wall. America is fed up with all of their Rovian tactics. Divide, conquer, triangulate and when finally no one is left standing another pathetic assertion of how we are all family in the end. Is there any doubt what the outcome would be with another Clinton Regime in the White House? How about NAFTA the sequel or another brilliant Telecommunications Act.

When Barack Obama alluded to Ronald Reagan as a transformative figure in political history he was spot on. Caroline Kennedy in a very moving and eloquent editorial for the New York Times tells the world unequivocally that Barack Obama is much like her father, able to inspire and unite a nation once divided. Monday we will also hear from Ted Kennedy, as he will deliver another moment of truth by endorsing Barack Obama's march to the White House.

I suppose Bill's next 'Hit Job' will be that Camelot was a fairy tale too. Sadly, the only fairy tale was beleiving that the Clintons were half as good as they pretend to be.

Posted by: scott179608 | January 28, 2008 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Clintons, the time for honoring yourselves will soon be at an end.

*bert convy


Posted by: BERTCONVY | January 27, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

great idea with the blue dresses, I'm a man, but if Billary has a rally near here I'll gladly show up in a blue dress!

Posted by: dochi1 | January 27, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Do we really want our "first" woman President to be elected because people like her husband more than they like her but can only vote for her to get him back in the White House? Can it really be that deep-thinking women are not aware that the Republicans are excited about Billary defeating Obama so the general election can revive the explicit scenes of the oral history of the Clinton Oval Office? The Billary duo is not one that will bring pride to women but rather will revive the memory that the blue dress didn't lie.

There will be no basis for pride for women if Billary return/s to the Oval Office. We need to show up at the Clinton rallies in our blue dresses over the next weeks. We need to show them and others that we reject the images of Hillary grabbing Bill's stained coat tails to carry them both back to the White House or, more likely, to bring defeat to the Democrats in 2008.

Let's rally as Women in Blue Dresses before February 5!

Want to know more about the Blue Dress?

Posted by: womenbluedress | January 27, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The Clintons used the same old strategy. They lie. They are not honest. The will say anything to win the nomination. They have no ethical value. Things that Bill Clinton did in the white house as president that has lead to the prelude of his impeachment, was so bad, I do not even know how to explain it to my 6 year old. Precisely, what I am refereeing here is the need to be candid under all circumstances. They used all kinds of tricks, tears and anger to manipulate the media and scare up votes. This is disgraceful. I know that Bill wants to finish his legacy, but he needs to conduct the campaign in a way that is conducive to respect, and civility.

Here is the current strategy -- Bill goes loose and says anything that he wants including distortion to derail Obama off his message. In the meantime, Hillary will have more time to talk about the economy and her mandating health care system, similar to the ones implemented by governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts before his departure. People in Massachusetts, who cannot pay for their heating bill, would rather pay the current fine because it is less than buying a health insurance premium. Forcing people to pay a fine and yet calling the plan, universal heath insurance, sounds more like a great euphemism to me. This sounds just like as a real fairy tale to me; give me a break. Our problem will not be solved until we remove the lobbyists in Washington. The previous attempt to solve the healthcare crisis was done behind closed doors. The second attempt will be a mandating health care plan to force people who can't afford it to pay additional fees. She may as well choose the previous governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, as a running mate, for they have the same health care plan.

The strategy outlined above may win the nomination, but it will lose the election.
1. The Clintons are working vigorously to put a wall - calling Obama "young African American.
2. This morning, she called him a frustrated young man
3. The Clinton purposely lied to provoke Obama and to derail him off his message.
Please Obama do no let this only hope dies.
Without Obama, there is no more interest in politic on the democratic side. Without Obama, there is no surge in voting registration. Without Obama, there is no full auditorium with thousand and thousands followers. Without Obama, there is no more reason to believe in again. Without Obama, the Tiger Woods analogy ceases to make sense - he made golf interested to young people as Obama make politic interested to college kids across the country. Without Obama, citizens would stop changing party affiliation from republican and independent to become democrats. Without Obama, we are back to the same food fight - red and blue state again -- Red for republican and blue for democrats.
Please don't let the status quo blocks the change movement and derail Obama off the message to unite America and heal the nation - Please let be honest!!!
"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America."

Posted by: nixbenoit | January 27, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The Clintons act as if they're entitled to another fun-filled term in the White House.

They're not.

It's time for somebody new.

Posted by: stevefought | January 27, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama supporters wake up. Obama is running a racist campaign.

Obama's camp compared their victory over Clinton in Iowa to OJ Simpson's murder of his white wife. "The natural reminder here is O.J. [Simpson] -- how does an African American candidate attack a white woman?" said Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), a fellow Black Chicagoan whose father ran for president twice in the 1980s.

That was waaaaaay back in January. And the media covered it up!

This is how Washington Post buried the information by ignoring its racist tone.

Posted by: fjstratford | January 27, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

people often most appreciate the virtues of america either through tradition or struggle. it is not in american interest to establish a new tradition of a dynastic ruling class. likewise, the HRC-bill joint-candidacy is an anathema to the american struggle. they are willing to divide americans just to maximize their chances of victory. thankfully it seems people are starting to pay attention to what is happening; i simply hope people decide correctly sooner rather than later. we always get the government we deserve.

Posted by: jacade | January 27, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I defended Bill Clinton for years but not anymore. As for Obama,I can't say he has my vote, but Hillary is a lying, two-faced back-stabbing power hungry greedy ego -driven hack that will guarantee another 4 years of a Repub in the White House. I'm surprised she didn't lift her skirt to show how big her testicles were at the last debate or offer to start a war with Iran to show how tough she is.Disgusting establishment corporate hack is all she is.

Posted by: dochi1 | January 27, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's memory may be fading, but I distinctly recall Bill's famous speech "I did NOT have sexual relations with THAT woman." This is the great healer? He did more to divide and destroy the Democratic party than any other single politician in the past 20 years. And now he trots out trying to be the sage leader. Give me a break. Would never vote for another Clinton, given what the first one put us through.
As for hotnuke...the writer is either a Repub plant, or is a self-imploding vessel of hatred.

Posted by: johnson.alice | January 27, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more, zukermand, but it's typical of the slime working at the Washington Post and throughout the vast majority of the Right-Wing Controlled, HILLARY-HATING, BILL CLINTON-HATING MEDIA. They're so full of hate for these two they will say and do ANYTHING to destroy them, and Anne Kornblut is one of the worst offenders.

The fact that Obama and his supporters have gotten on this HATE-BANDWAGON only shows me what scum they are as well.

Posted by: hotnuke2007 | January 27, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Bill Clinton, national healer?"

Is that snark?

"Badly stung by her decisive defeat in South Carolina on Saturday, Clinton appeared determined but subdued in her appearance with reporters and on CBS' Face the Nation. She smiled little, showing hardly any of the enjoyment that she has at other moments in the race (although she did encourage reporters to go view the resident ducks at the hotel, known for their procession through the lobby twice a day)."

Is it possible for a reporter to write anything stupider? Is there a fact in there somewhere?

"As Clinton increasingly revisits the 1990s -- most recently in a debate over whether her husband had bigger ideas than Republicans over the past 10 to 15 years or the impact of Ronald Reagan"

Didn't her opponent raise the topic?

" -- she is at times reinterpreting the history of the era to match the twists and turns of the current race."

Typically baseless, sniveling, simpering character assassination from this vile repulsive "reporter".

Posted by: zukermand | January 27, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

So hotnuke2007 represents that hardcore Democratic base the Clintons rely on for victory. At least we're straight on that.

Posted by: dgroble | January 27, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

or maybe let hotnuke rave on so all can see what a Billary supporter is like?

Posted by: dochi1 | January 27, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

i find it interesting, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that hillary clinton can look straight into the camera and innocently proclaim that what we are seeing with our own eyes and hearing with our own ears is not,in fact, the truth.

i voted for bill, i rationalized to myself that his sexual life was his own affair, i railed against the right wing conspiracy... i now believe i was wrong... the clintons are reprehensible, they will do anything to win. they have proved by their behavior that winning, is more important than dividing the country.

this is a truly sad state of affairs.

Posted by: andmeddave1 | January 27, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I second jade_7243, you need to remove hotnuke2007

Posted by: dochi1 | January 27, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. "

Please remove the comment made by hotnuke2007 at 1:23 p.m. as it clearly violates the standards of decorum defined by the Washington Post.

Thank you.

Posted by: jade_7243 | January 27, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"Clinton denied that her husband had been adding to harmful divisions within the Democratic party with recent statements about Sen. Barack Obama."

That raises an interesting question; is she that out of touch, or merely trying to spin the story favorably for her campaign? Of course, it also implies that he is becoming something of a liability, if she has to spend time defending him rather than promoting her own candidacy.

Posted by: bsimon | January 27, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. I wouldn't accept it if my kids acted that way.

Posted by: davestickler | January 27, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

There she goes, bringing up the wonderful '90's again. What about Bill's reprehensible actions right now? Comparing Obama's SC win to Jesse Jackson? That's not right.

Posted by: parkerfl | January 27, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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