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(Bill) Clinton's Return

Is it the second coming of Bill Clinton? President Obama seems to be embracing Clinton’s strategy of using popular but insignificant government actions to bolster his image and appeal to bipartisanship in the lead up to 2012.

On Tuesday, it was stricter oversight of the Head Start preschool program for low-income children. On Wednesday, Obama signed an executive order to eliminate particularly dreadful examples of government waste. Thursday brought the passage of two small parts of the jobs bill, as the NY Times reports:

In the last month, the Senate has rejected three versions of Mr. Obama’s jobs bill. But on Thursday it approved a measure with two elements of the White House plan. One would offer tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans. The other would repeal a law that requires federal, state and local government agencies to deduct and withhold 3 percent of payments they make to many contractors.

The influential cadre of former Clinton officials in the current Administration are quick to present the strategies of their ’96 resurgence as the key to Obama’s reelection, and it may well make political sense to publicly announce frequent, popular and bipartisan steps, however small they may be. This is however a long way down from the “transformative” ambitions that marked the Lincoln and Roosevelt phases of the cocky Obamans before sober reality settled in.

Republicans, sharpening their knives for what many hope will be an easy victory in 2012, should watch out.  The funny thing about Clintonism is that, while often inelegant and even undignified, it usually works.

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  • Anthony

    The big difference from 1996, though, is that Clinton was dealing with (and mishandling) a lousy economy. I doubt these little moves will matter much with voters when they finally have their ballot in hand.

  • Corlyss

    Let’s not get carried away here. Not only is it not 1996, Obama is not Clinton. Obama is such a rock-headed inflexible ideologue he will never be able to bring it off. He may make his base happy, but his base is less than 20% of the registered voters. I for one wouldn’t call postponing the Keystone pipeline a strategic win for his campaign. How many boots on the ground do the envirothugs have, compared to the unions, both private and public, who will be needed to hit the neighborhoods in 2012?

  • Corlyss

    Daley was supposed to bring a friendly, pro-business face to the Marxists/Alensky-ites in the White House. I don’t know when the media is finally going to absorb this critical lesson: Obama hasn’t learned a thing since he was a left-wing college kid.

    From WSJ Political Diary:

    Bill Daley’s Comeuppance
    Bill Daley’s “reassignment” at the White House raised political eyebrows this week as the chief of staff saw some of his daily duties redistributed to Pete Rouse, who served in the role briefly after Rahm Emanuel resigned to run for mayor of Chicago. If the former commerce secretary and JP Morgan executive’s appointment to the job was meant as an olive branch to the business community, does his demotion mean the rapprochement is over?

    Political pros noted that the reshuffling, less than a year after his appointment, was a sharp comeuppance for Mr. Daley, who has been faulted for fumbling the debt and deficit negotiations that deadlocked Congress earlier this year. Mr. Rouse is known for his diplomacy and has a smoother style than Mr. Daley. With the lousy economy being Mr. Obama’s biggest political challenge at the moment, the move may also presage a shift in the administration’s thinking toward more populist rhetoric heading into the election next year.

    The Daleys have deep Chicago ties — Bill’s brother Richard Daley was mayor for two decades before clearing the way for Mr. Emanuel. When Mr. Emanuel left the chief of staff job, President Obama’s choice of Bill Daley kept the revolving door between Chicago and the West Wing all in the family.

    There’s no love lost between Mr. Emmanuel and Bill Daley, however. Last month, Mr. Daley told Politico that the first three years of the Obama administration were “brutal.” He also criticized Congressional Democrats and suggested that Mr. Emmanuel was not as well loved as the legend has it. The revelations may have helped speed the political reshuffling.

    Mr. Daley’s financial résumé and corresponding compensation packages had made him a target of Occupy Wall Street protesters in recent weeks, an additional awkward twist for the president who would like to harness the movement’s anti-business sentiment for his own political purposes in 2012. Whether Mr. Rouse’s more politic style can smooth over the West Wing’s frayed relationship with Congress is a bigger question mark.

    — Collin Levy

  • shiblee

    It is the flaws of Democracy . stable democracy can not evade this , while unstable democracy what can do ?

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