As the campaign from hell continues to promise voters four more years of what they detest no matter who wins, and politics in America is now in almost universal disrepute outside the circles of those paid to continue the status quo, and banking scandals continue, and virtually every major American institution is widely distrusted, consider this:
In a recent Gallup poll, the favorable rating of Bill Clinton was a towering 66 percent. In another recent poll the favorable rating of Hillary Clinton was an equally towering 66 percent. By contrast:
Public confidence in Congress is at levels comparable to the favorable rating of Saddam Hussein. Congressional Republicans are as popular as defective dog food. Congressional Democrats fare slightly better. They are as popular as average dog food, which is fine for the dogs but not great for the people.
Meanwhile, Congress leaves Washington for another long recess while farmers endure agony from the drought, drivers are punished by soaring gas prices and families are pained by another jobs report while nobody in Washington appears to give a damn about anything except blaming each other and telling angry voters why they are so wonderful.
Mitt Romney, who cannot stand for the same things for two days in a row, attacks welfare in a shameless race play, hides his taxes while he tells ABC News that he cannot remember his tax rates, and may be the least trusted candidate in modern political history.
Barack Obama, who has served as president for four years but cannot tell us what he will do if reelected, has a campaign reduced to 100 percent negativity while a super-PAC favoring him lies and suggests Mitt Romney caused the death of a woman, while the president’s voices lie and say they do not know the facts of the matter. Of course they do.
The most politically powerful person in America is a casino operator who tries to buy a president courtesy of the Supreme Court, while the latest banking scandal is headed for grand juries and plea bargains.
The best our politicians can do is escalate the regurgitated campaign vomit that passes for leadership in America, which voters loathe and detest while insiders show contempt and scorn for voters as one change election follows another, yet nothing changes.
On the other hand: Voters approve of Bill by 66 percent, Hillary 66 percent. America loves the Clintons, and here’s why:
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the happy warriors of American political life. They have endured insults and slanders for a lifetime but emerged with humor and good will. They care deeply and passionately about policy and issues, and the prime directive for the Clintons is getting things done.
Bill Clinton is the natural, born to politics, a guy who genuinely loves people, loves engaging people, loves the heartbeat of politics and the art of governing the same way that FDR, JFK and LBJ did.
Newt Gingrich could lie about Bill Clinton, but President Clinton could negotiate with Speaker Gingrich to get things done. This is an aspect of the presidency that Barack Obama, God bless him, has never mastered, along with the art of listening to good advice from friends, the kind of advice that is too often ignored or treated with contempt by this White House.
Hillary Clinton has grown to become a world stateswoman and grown with every experience in her career the same way RFK grew in his career. Halfway through her 2008 campaign, having already transcended the limits of sexism, she transcended the limits of certain insiders who surrounded her, limited her and held her back. She came to campaign with an empathy, warmth and caring about people that she ultimately projected externally as much as she felt internally.
Above all, and beyond everything else, the Clintons believe that getting things done for others is the only thing that matters. Even if they must overcome the most difficult obstacles. Even if they must collaborate with those who would destroy them. They relish the joy of politics and the art of governing at a time when these qualities are in short supply in Washington.
Of course the Clintons make mistakes. That is the beauty of it. They are human, and they show it, and they know that only those who risk falling hard can reach high.
The Clintons are one of the great love stories of our age. They have suffered in the deepest valleys and ascended the highest mountains. Throughout it all they have never lost their joy for the game, their love of people, and above all their understanding that the only thing that matters in this business is getting things done.
Voters identify the Clintons with a prosperity that Americans yearn for again. It happened under the Clinton presidency. This is not spin. It is history. The names voters associate with good times are two Clintons and neither Bush. This is not partisan. It is fact.
America moving to the right? Baloney. If this were true the two figures who tower in popularity above the landscape of American politics would not be leading figures identified with the center-left tradition of the Democratic Party.
And yes, to repeat the point I have argued ad nauseam, the best thing Barack Obama could do to enhance his reelection and strengthen his presidency if reelected would be to put Hillary on the ticket. I do not know one professional Democrat or Republican who disagrees with me that she strengthens Democrats from the presidency to the precincts.
In a razor-thin election that could determine control of every branch of government, including the Supreme Court for a generation, it would be an act of political malpractice not to put her on the ticket which would unilaterally surrender the advantages she brings.
I want Barack Obama to be reelected. I want Barack Obama to go down in history as a great president. I believe he still can be, but not with the kind of campaign our politicians are trying to force down the mouths of voters. Barack Obama should aspire to more than barely winning an ugly election without a purpose. He should aspire to win an election with a mandate, an election we can be proud of and not ashamed by, in a nation of voters who are not stupid, as politicians believe.
When Bill Clinton strides to the podium at the Democratic convention he will be greeted with ovations of joy and affection and remembrance of what Democratic presidents can do and what America can be.
When he first mentions the name of Barack Obama and first whispers the name of the woman he loves the audience will erupt as one in a volcano of aspirations and good will, with ovations that will rocket from the hall through television screens to living rooms throughout the nation.
America loves the Clintons, with good reason.
Brent Budowsky is served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left government in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management.
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