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Bill Clinton: A Preacher Against Gambling

CARLISLE, Iowa -- Former president Bill Clinton, cautioning an audience here Sunday night that the next president will almost certainly face a major, unforeseen event within the first 18 months of taking office, said his wife alone has been tested and is ready to handle any crisis that confronts the United States.

"The presidency becomes a constant struggle between dealing with the incoming events and trying to keep your promises to American people," said the 42nd president. "How a president does both may turn the tide for the American people."

To make his point, Clinton noted that during the 2000 presidential campaign neither George W. Bush nor Al Gore spoke much about the two developments that came to dominate the Bush presidency -- Osama bin Laden and the threat posed by Islamic terrorists, and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

His wife, Clinton argued, is by far the best equipped to deal with those sorts of unforeseen events that can alter the course of a presidency in a moment. "She will never wilt, always make the right decision under pressure and you would never have to worry about your back," he said.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Bill Clinton has spent more and more time casting his wife as the safe choice while painting her opponents as risky bets. That line of attack jumped into the public eye during an interview the former president did with PBS's Charlie Rose in which he said making Barack Obama the nominee would constitute a "roll of the dice" since the Illinois senator had spent such a short time in elected office.

Hillary Clinton herself is picking up this "gamble" language in the final 72 hours of the Iowa race, telling USA Today's Susan Page that she was "not asking voters to take me on a leap of faith", implicitly contrasting her alleged steadiness with the risk associated with picking Obama.

Officials with all three of the major campaigns -- Clinton, Obama and John Edwards -- acknowledge that even with the caucuses just days away, a considerable number of Democratic caucusgoers remain undecided.

The goal then of the Clinton campaign in these final hours is to raise even the slightest doubts about her two main rivals in the minds of these undecided voters, hoping that something like what happened in 2004 in Iowa plays out again.

In that race, Howard Dean -- a relative unknown commodity on the national stage -- surged to the lead in Iowa on the strength of his promise to shake up the status quo. As caucus day drew closer, however, voters seemed to re-think their support for the former Vermont governor and began defecting in droves to the "safer" campaign of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" bumper stickers appeared -- summing up many voters' sentiments.

We've long believed that the choice on Thursday (and in the Democratic race generally) would come down to a head versus heart vote. Clinton is clearly the head choice; Obama and Edwards are jousting to be the heart choice.

Bill Clinton acknowledged as much last night. "It's been a pleasure to watch people running basically positive campaigns," he said. "I like these people." He then quickly added: "But you have to decide who would be the best president."

Put simply: Head versus heart.

We're now just 72 hours away from finding out which is the more powerful organ in the bodies of Iowa Democratic caucusgoers.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 31, 2007; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rep. Wicker Is Barbour's Choice
Next: 72 Hours Out: Where Things Stand

Comments

Does it matter whether or not Hillary has even fundamental knowledge regarding Pakistan's government and elections?

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0108/Clinton_errs_on_Pakistan_.html

Posted by: julieds | January 1, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Bill is Bill. Now we need to hear what the spouses of Obama, Edwards, Dodd, etc. say, in equally uncritical fashion.

Posted by: wesfromGA | January 1, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"The presidency becomes a constant struggle between dealing with the incoming events and trying to keep your promises to American people," - what the heck is he talking about? Everything he promised, i.e., middle class tax cuts, for example, didn't happen. What we got was a convicted liar instead. He was too busy doing interns instead of protecting the country like he was supposed to (killing bin laden when he has several chances to do so). It's no surprise his wife's campaign is tanking.

Posted by: skinsneednewcoaches | January 1, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The Kerry>Hillary choice of a "safe" candidate may not work again this time. It's perilous because the dice are loaded against someone who is unacceptable from the get-go to half the country.

Posted by: FirstMouse | December 31, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Clinton lost my vote when the last flyer sent by her campaign emphasized her support by a teachers' union. Dodd seems reasonable but is probably not viable. I'm thinking of becoming republican and caucusing for McCain.

Posted by: mg9425 | December 31, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

But she doesn't make the right decisions. She made very wrong ones, especially on Iraq and Iran. So my head tells me to stay away from her. And she messed up our chance at health care in the 90's real big. She is a terrible choice for those unexpected circumstances because she makes political decisions not wise ones.

Posted by: goldie2 | December 31, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The criticism of Chris that denigrates his use of the "head vs. heart" analogy could use some defending. This is an allusion to a dialogue Thomas Jefferson had with Maria Cosway In 1786. Go and read it and see if you still think this is a poorly thought out cliche.

Posted by: lindertbryan | December 31, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

EVERYBODY, WAKE UP! There is only one candidate - Republican or Democrat - who can objectively win a landslide victory in November 2008, thereby leading a REAL GOVERNING COALITION to bring about change in America. According to all experts, Zogby and Fox Polls, that is Barack Obama. There is no way Hillary Clinton could win because she starts off with more negatives than positives, plus she is even losing the Independents to hypothetical Republican opponents. America, please, awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep.
Check out this link for an objective presentation of the most electable candidate on the Democratic side - the only one who can actually pull a landslide:
http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/samgrahamfelsen/CgH4#comment-gGBRHq

Posted by: JulioBats | December 31, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

'rindl, Here's a different perspective, just in case you may still have some minute shred of an open mind'

what a truly hilarious thing for YOU to say. and why should al queda bother with iraq, when they already have a safe haven where they can train and organize out in the open in pakistan--with the help of the government which they have infiltrated, and funded with US taxpayer money?

and zouk, king of the jackasses, you keep promising to leave, but you never do... still here every day, all day. what did you say you do for a lving again? it keeps changing, just like bush's reasns for going to iraq...

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Count me annoyed by Cillizza's willingness to fall back on such an asinine trope as "head vs. heart" to describe the Democratic primary campaign. If nothing else, he's essentially carrying water for Hillary Clinton's campaign by using this line uncritically. For another, it's simply stupid. There's a sentimental case to be made for each of the three candidates, and a rational case to be made for each candidate's approach to doing business. A real journalist might even be tempted to discuss those differences without resorting to cliche.

Furthermore, the heart is only the seat of emotion in bad poetry and bad analogies. In reality, both our intellect and our emotions are controlled by the brain. Use your whole head when making up your mind. Choose the person best suited to lead the party and the country for the next eight years. We won't all agree, but we should at least agree not to substitute childish slogans for critical thinking.

Posted by: a_lafollette | December 31, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a Hillary-lover (go Edwards!) but big Bill has a point: she has been around the blog with the extremist right and the ugly political machine that is our government.

The question we should all be asking is, what's left of the one-time good government idealist who took on the pharma and insurance industries -- and lost big in 1994?

Whichever way you answer, people who care about rational, humane and problem-focussed government have rarely ever had as good a candidate to choose from as we do with Clinton/Edwards/Obama.

I - and you, in my opinion - should be happy to vote for any of them.

Did Hillary vote to give Bush the power to invade Iraq in 2002 - sure she did. Did I support it - no. But it was a pragmatic political decision, and arguably a reasonable one, given the circumstances.

Remember, Abraham Lincoln (no, I'm not saying Hillary Clinton is like Abraham Lincoln, I'll leave that kind of bull to the Bushies) refused to end slavery till 1863 - and was excoriated by the abolitionists for it.

FDR, to pick another example, couldn't afford to emulate Eleanor's outstanding pro-integration talk and walk: he needed the southern segregationist democrats to excercise power.

An effective politician MUST consider alot of different constituencies. If you Hillary-hating progressive dems want to 'purify' the party the way we did in the 70's and 80's - get rid of Hillary, get rid of Webb in Virginia, get rid of Tester in Montana - and sit back and enjoy while the Dems slide into defeat, and more Alito/Gonzalez/Greenspan clones destroy America.

Do you want to be impotent and ideologically pure, or do you want to win?

Let me withdraw that question: we HAVE to win. Our country is being destroyed by a band of corrupt ideologues who are niether Republican, conservative, religious, nor patriotic -- though they drape the tatters of these ideas over themselves.

They are criminals, and real Americans have to stop them.

Even if we disagree about abortion.

Even if we disagree about homosexual marriage.

Even if we disagree about other important but still, by comparison, trivial issues.

Whoever wins the democratic primary is our champion in one of the most critical struggles in american history.

Thanks for reading this.

Posted by: al75 | December 31, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Iraq: US Tracks Lowest Monthly Fatalities Since War Began [Gregory S. McNeal]

"The US military is on track to see the lowest number of monthly fatalities in Iraq since the war began in March, 2003. In February 2004 the US lost 20 soldiers in the 29 day period. This month the US has lost 21 soldiers in the 31 day period."

Gateway pundit has the story here.

AP and HuffingtonPost miss the point aggregating the data for 2007, rather than looking to the clear trend lines post-surge.


Drindl cutting and pasting from one of her favorite hate sites - huff post, again.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Hypothetical head-to-head matchups mean nothing right now, because the Republicans have not yet had an opportunity to beat up on Obama. They will if he's the nominee, and I think Obama is too nice to fight back, so he would not successfully endure the barrage of attacks between February and November.

And of course the irony of Hillary firing Bill Shaheen over his Obama comments (which was undoubtedly necessary) is that I'm sure his comments would turn out to be fatefully true. You can bet the Republicans would scour Obama's books for just this kind of evidence and throw it in his face during the campaign. Though voters ignored cocaine use when it came to W. (who nonetheless never addressed it or admitted to the specifics of his addictions during the campaign), that was partly a function of the fact that Democrats don't hammer on such things the way Republicans do. But you can bet that something like that would be used to cast doubts on Obama, who will already be holding a precarious place in voters minds because of his "inexperience." It REALLY concerns me that Obama has yet to be exposed to the Republican dirt machine. The fact that they are already floating the idea that he is a Muslim terrorist because he lived in a Muslim country as a child should be ample indication of just how nasty they are willing to get. What can they possibly come up with against Hillary that they haven't already tried for years?

February 5th will be the much more important day than the Iowa/New Hampshire matches.

I believe that in the end Hillary will be the nominee. On February 5th, Hillary will probably have the nomination locked up. Once the race moves out of small states that magnify Obama's liberal and young voter based strengths, things will drastically change. The majority of voters in the big states that provide the majority of numbers for the nomination will not vote for Obama. They will seek a more seasoned politician who will have a better chance of actually winning.

It's great that Obama is taking it to Hillary. This will make her a better candidate in the fall when the race will get serious. Hillary, warts and all, has a better chance at becoming the next president.

Posted by: harlemboy | December 31, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

drindl, Here's a different perspective, just in case you may still have some minute shred of an open mind with which to consider the consequences of what would have happened if the Dems in Congress had been successful in legislating defeat in Iraq...

"Iraq, whatever the current crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains the West's biggest foreign policy challenge of this decade. As it seems he will halt its slide into all-out anarchy, Gen Petraeus has and will save more than Iraqi lives.

A failed Iraq would not just be a second Vietnam, nor would it just be America's problem. It would be a symbolic victory for al-Qaeda, a safe haven for jihadists to plot future September 11s and July 7s, and a battleground for a Shia-Sunni struggle that could draw in the entire Middle East.

Our future peace and prosperity depend, in part, on fixing this mess. And, a year ago, few had much hope.

The critics said it couldn't be done, but the vision and determination of General David Petraeus have brought greater security and cause for optimism to the people of Iraq."

In recognition of this, Gen Petraeus has been named The Sunday Telegraph's Person of the Year.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=DNK0OGUFH1DRDQFIQMGCFFWAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2007/12/30/nperson130.xml

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | December 31, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

harlemboy, please explain why you think Obama will "go down in flames" in November. Early polls show him doing at least as well as other Democratic candidates in head-to-head matchups. Who is your favored candidate, and why will he or she succeed where you think Obama will fail?

Posted by: Blarg | December 31, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Keith Olbermann "Honored" By Andrew Sullivan [Greg Pollowitz]

Andrew Sullivan's 2007 Moore award ("named after film-maker, Michael Moore - is for divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric") goes to Keith Olbermann for this comment:

"Al Qaeda really hurt us, but not as much as Rupert Murdoch has hurt us, particularly in the case of Fox News. Fox News is worse than Al Qaeda -- worse for our society. It's as dangerous as the Ku Klux Klan ever was."

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats nominate Barack Hussein Obama, they will go down in flames next November, and the Republicans will hold the presidency for at least four more years.

Posted by: harlemboy | December 31, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

the head moonbat jackel checks in with her daily rage and incensed emotional extremism.

bye bye blog. catch you next year. It was sweet while it lasted.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

what's obvious is that Hillary cannot even run this campaign by herself. Reminds me of the Old south when Governors(Wallace) would have the wives run and win and then simply govern through their spouses. Feminists everywhere should be groaning by now. It also raises serious constitutional issues seeing what this really is, is a 3rd term for Bill.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 31, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The defeatist republican administration formally surrenders to the Taliban:

'On Thursday, Flight Suit's top guy in Afghanistan, Ambassador William Wood, delivered the message of surrender to America:

The United States supports reconciliation talks with Taliban fighters who have no ties to al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan's constitution, the U.S. ambassador said Thursday.

William Wood said the U.S. is in favor of a "serious reconciliation program with those elements of the Taliban who are prepared to accept the constitution and the authority of the elected government" of President Hamid Karzai."

Let me be clear about one thing: ALL elements of the Taliban sympathize with and support al Qaeda. That's their whole purpose. They are both Sunni extremist groups that share the same goal of enforcing medieval Islamic law on whomever they can.

So if I hear another word about how Republicans are "strong on security," I'm going to ralph on my keyboard. To illustrate what I'm talking about, let's take a trip in the ol' wayback machine to September 15, 2001. That's when the tough-talking, cheerleader-in-chief set the stage for future irony by telling us all:

'We will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we'll bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them.

Make no mistake about it: underneath our tears is the strong determination of America to win this war. And we will win it.'

and instead, we are appeasing terrorists who harbor, aid and abet bin Ladin. Funny how that turned out, huh?

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

'Four years and eight months after the mission was accomplished in Iraq, 2007 ends as:

...the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.'

Look! We're winning!

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

(Sorry for the multiple posts)

P.S. to proudtobeGOP:

Don't forget that his grand idea to have Bush41 and himself go on an international "Repair America's Image" tour was shot down pretty quick as well ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice if Bill Clinton could give some specifics. Why is Hillary best-equipped to deal with the equivalent of terrorists and hurricanes? How has she been tested so that she's ready for any crisis? The Clinton campaign loves to claim that Hillary is the most experienced candidate, but they can never back it up with anything besides vague assertions. Hillary is the most experienced because Bill Clinton says so; what more do you need?

Posted by: Blarg | December 31, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The Clinton name brings out the rabid drooling pavlovian dogs, conditioned to howl with phony outrage at the very mention.

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"She will never wilt, always make the right decision under pressure and you would never have to worry about your back."

Really, Bill? Was it the right decision to give the President the right to invade Iraq? Was it the right decision to support the Kyle/Lieberman resolution that gives the President political cover in case he decides to attack Iran?

There was considerably political pressure to vote *for* both of these resolutions, and Hillary folded under the pressure like a lawn chair.

It's not an argument of head vs. heart; it's an argument of what sort of person do we desperately need as President to do the heavy lifting needed in the wake of 8 years of a disasterous administration. Do we want the safe, status-quo, establishment candidate, or do we want someone bold, someone with vision and passion and drive?

Posted by: bennie.c.smith | December 31, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Proud - you are not the only one. I beleive there are many, many.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

vwcat, What have you been smoking? Bill Clinton is not "just another spouse". He is the perennially needy former president who happens to drop insider Whitehouse tidbits just in case we forgot that it's all about him, and he knows stuff ok?

He presents much more of a problem than anyone else's spouse, for example when
Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife in Iowa, claimed falsely--manifestly and provably--that he had "opposed Iraq from the beginning."

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is sick and tired of seeing Bill Clinton wag his finger while telling us his version of the truth. It is really time to moveon from Hillary and the Clintons' brand of politics.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | December 31, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Head, heart or most electable. Electable is always a factor in the Iowa caucuses. Dems don't want to lose... Hillary would be divisive and bring out the GOP vote.

My call... Hillary comes in third as the nonviables, and there will be many, won't swing to her.

Bill, while popular, doesn't seem to have "it" anymore, or at least in smaller measure. His words in support of his wife are taken as just that, support for a wife to whom he has much to account for.

http://whathappenedtomycountry.blogspot.com

Posted by: Truth_Hunter | December 31, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope Democrats go with their heart!!! It worked in 1992 when another "unknown" candidate named Clinton ran and won ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope Democrats go with their heart!!! It worked in 1992 when another "unknown" candidate named Clinton ran and won ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope Democrats go with their heart!!! It worked in 1992 when another "unknown" candidate named Clinton ran and won ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Chris, why is the press so obsessed about Bill clinton?
He was a candidate 20 years ago and his time has come and gone. he is simply not that big of a deal. He is like an elder statesman figure. Or a favored older uncle.
Just because dems have the warm feelings for him doesn't mean we want to be dumped with all this Bill stuff. It's boring.
I really wish the press would find a hobby or something else to obsess over.
He is simply just another spouse

Posted by: vwcat | December 31, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"you would never have to worry about your back"

Unless you are a Dem candidat running against her or a journo printing any facts she hasn't blessed.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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