Obama’s problem with “vulgar” Bill Clinton
by Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/29/10
The telling moment was a year last in Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.’s kerfuffle with Sgt. James Crowley. Obama unfortunately appeared to reflexively weigh in on behalf of Harvard Yard instead of Fenway Park. Obama is without question Harvard’s current favorite. Indeed, the idolatry of Mile High Stadium which is waned in the world at large still reigns at cloistered Harvard. And those little “I miss Bill” bumper stickers of Harvard’s dowagers are beginning to peel off.
But this is breaking the Democrats in half. The Clintons do not like Obama. They think they should be speaking to the minions at Mile High stadium. Now Harvard’s James Kloppenberg tells the NYTs that there is a primal difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Kloppenberg disparages the “vulgar pragmatism” of that hunka hunka burnin’ love that is Bill. He praises Obama’s “philosophical pragmatism.”
It is pretentious, but probably correct. Obama, like JFK, is high minded and I think there will be more to him next year with Elizabeth Warren on board, especially if he brings in Arnold Schwarzenegger after December. And they will need a new trickster. Arnold, in a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, seemed to want to go. Clinton is vulgar and a vulgarian with 50 gold watches has populist cache, in the tradition of the old Irish pols of Brooklyn and Southie with drink and cigar in hand, diamond tie pins and a new Cadillac every year. That is one of the things his followers liked about him.
I have never liked Bill Clinton not because he is vulgar, but because I thought he could be dangerously unstable and dangerously irresponsible. This week, it is reported that Bill Clinton pushed black Democrat Kendrick Meek to quit his race against independent Charlie Crist in Florida, when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were stumping for Meek just a week before. And so many of Bill’s stops this cycle are at regimes which voted for Hillary in 2008 that it is being called a “revenge” tour. This seems in context with the Clinton tradition. There is still time for the Clintons to destroy the Democratic Party and in such a volatile political environment, there is potentially time for them to destroy the post-war political system.