Thursday, September 15, 2005

Succeed Where Carter Failed? Or Just Plain Pull a Carter?

I once had a conservative friend who said about Jimmy Carter: "The guy was useless as President, but he's been pretty decent since he left office. He's actually done some good, so I don't mind the guy." This was in reference to Jimmy Carter's work with Habitat for Humanity, and some of his international peace efforts (though he explicitly stated Carter had no business interfering with North Korea). What is important about this sentiment? It was datestamped September 2002. . .in other words a decent chunk of time before the Iraq War, which obviously caused some senile spring in Jimmy Carter to pop loose and lose his mind.

Well, Bill Clinton is out there and he's convening a global poverty summit, and it's an effort that sounds suspiciously Carter-like. Although Condi will participate in this strutfest. It marks one of Clinton's more ambitious moments since leaving office, and it's a good time to take a look at his post-Presidency legacy. I am, of course, a completely slanted Clinton fan. He probably came closest to representing my ideology than any other President (except maybe Truman). But that aside, he's been a classy guy so far. He had his partisan shill moments at the 2004 Dem Convention, but in doing so gave the most effective speech and rallying cry a Democrat ever had in the four years since he'd left office. Aside from that, he's been doing the rounds fundraising for the tsunami, and now for Hurricane Katrina, in his extra special love-affair with George H.W. Bush (which the grating oddness of still makes me have a WTF moment every time I see the commercials. . .). In this bad season he's taken some steps to try to actually achieve some degree of bipartisanship, even taking moments to praise the Big W.

So so far so good. Clinton is using some of his residue of political capital and leadership to put on an international summit to get some action on poverty. Again, so far so good. Everything is looking up for Slick Willy. But, of course, there's one thing that could make him go the route of Jimmy Carter and unravel all his good actions so far: Hillary. If Hillary runs in 2008, then Bill will be reduced to a sludgy attack dog and we'll spend at least another year watching his character getting savaged and all the old fights that have been lurking in the background come to the fore. Someone who was a Dem and is slowly transforming into what could be a decent historical representative of his party will be reduced to a polarizing symbol yet again. In short: it's yet another reason the Dems shouldn't want Hillary to run in 2008. Spare Bill the pain. He's trying to do good things, and he doesn't deserve this bullshit.