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Opinion: Whatever happens in November, it will be no-win for Bill Clinton

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Bill Clinton is destined to be disgruntled, no matter how Campaign ’08 turns out.

That, at least, is the conclusion veteran political reporter and analyst Al Hunt reaches in his provocative new column for Bloomberg News.

Hunt pulls no punches in assessing how the ex-president’s efforts -- which many have seen as frequently ham-handed -- to promote Hillary Clinton’s candidacy have done her little good and deeply bruised his own reputation.

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‘The most talented and resilient politician of this generation,’ Hunt writes, ‘has damaged his standing with gaffes, political miscalculations and a series of paranoiac, volcanic eruptions.

‘A common question these days among political heavyweights -- including longtime Clinton devotees -- is this: How can a guy this smart act so dumb?’

What most intrigued us, though, was Hunt’s view, at column’s end, of how the three possible November outcomes ...

would affect the former White House occupant.

Least surprising is the GOP victory scenario: ‘Although he has a decent relationship with John McCain, given the continuing partisan resentment of Bill Clinton, he would remain largely in exile under a Republican president.’

Most surprising is this: ‘If Hillary Clinton upsets the odds and wins the presidency, it’s likely to prove an unhappy time for her husband. He would be scrutinized, politically and personally; political strains between the president and first spouse would emerge.’

And then there is this: ‘A President (Barack) Obama would drive him crazy. If not irrelevant, it would make Clinton a secondary figure within his own country and party.

‘There is little that would make him more frustrated or angrier.’

The entire column can be read here.

The Bill Clinton/Obama dynamic also is touched upon in a New Yorker piece that, while giving the ex-president his due in connecting with average voters, also paints him as out of touch with the contemporary media environment. Reporter Ryan Lizza quotes an unnamed advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign as saying: “I think this campaign has enraged him. He doesn’t like Obama.”

Rev. Jeremiah Wright likely is making it harder for Obama to win votes from some whites. Much as it would deeply aggravate Bill Clinton to hear, such an attitude toward his wife’s rival may make it tougher for her to attract support from blacks.

-- Don Frederick


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