Sen. Rand Paul was fast becoming the GOP contender of the future — until he resurrected the Monica Lewinsky issue in a series of recent interviews.
It's a real mistake for Paul's rising political future and a strategic blunder for the GOP.
The Republican Party faces a serious crisis. Demographics are moving aggressively against its aging white base. Blue states remain firmly entrenched while once-Red states such as Texas and Florida are becoming increasingly Blue.
In 2012 the GOP spent $1 billion, fielding a telegenic candidate and still lost against an unpopular president presiding over the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Why? I keep hearing that the party of Lincoln is "out of touch" with working Americans.
In the face of this reality, the GOP should be grappling with how to offer positive, free-market solutions for America's ills.
Instead, Paul's assault on Bill Clinton is not only throwing the GOP back into the ugly muck of the 1990s, but pairing itself off against a still-popular former Democratic president.
The Clinton affair was litigated back in the 1990s, and Republicans went so far as to impeach the president. But in the end they lost — Clinton remained in office, and the public, by and large, decided that the GOP's efforts were not good for the country.
We will lose again if we make Bill Clinton and the 1990s the issue.
Clinton, to his credit, has admitted his mistakes, to his family and to the public. He apologized for them and gained redemption with a presidential record that has turned to gold as the years have passed and by acting as a goodwill ambassador for the United States.
Some years ago Newsmax featured Bill Clinton on the cover of our magazine, focusing on how Clinton had not only re-invented the post-presidency into a powerful bully pulpit, but praising him for engaging globally with the work of his foundation, laudable work even straight-laced Republicans could applaud.
In recent years, Clinton has won kudos from both sides of the political aisle for his work with his foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for various causes since it was established in 2001.
Recently renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, it has used the president's immense popularity and fundraising prowess — and that of his wife, Hillary — to improve the lives of more than 400 million people in more than 180 countries around the world by alleviating poverty, supporting numerous public health initiatives and developing sustainable development projects that governments won't touch.
While in the past many former presidents have retreated to the golf course and corporate boardrooms, and one, Jimmy Carter, has spent his time often siding with American adversaries, Bill Clinton put himself in the frontlines advocating for the country.
I remember during the dark days after 9/11, it was Bill Clinton who often played both a public, and sometimes behind-the-scenes role internationally in supporting President Bush's war on terror.
The Lewinsky matter and the whole array of hobgoblins we once dubbed the "Clinton scandals" happened almost two decades ago. As one of the participants in those battles back then who was a critic of President Clinton, I can say with some degree of certainty we made a mistake.
Thank God Americans believe in forgiveness and redemption. It makes us a special place. Clinton's extremely popularity supports that view.
In fact, his popularity actually reached an all-time high as recently as September 2012, when a New York Times/CBS News poll found that two-thirds of registered voters viewed him favorably.
That popularity no doubt made a difference in the 2012 elections. Clinton delivered a powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention and aided President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
Clinton's support, understandably, has angered some Republicans and perhaps helped create the embers that Rand Paul has fanned so successfully over a matter that seems resurrected from the ancient past.
I think the Republicans — and Rand Paul — should learn a lesson or two from Bill Clinton.
One is that we need to focus on the future and the policy issues that make the Republican Party a better choice to voters, offering a message of true economic prosperity that creates real jobs and real wealth.
And, like Clinton, we can actually do something that proves we care.
Unfortunately, I am not seeing and hearing that important message today from Washington's Republican leadership. We need to if we want to win.
Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.
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