If anyone ever wondered if the more conservative Bill Clinton really thought the more liberal Barack Obama was prepared to be president in 2008, let them wonder no longer.
Clinton might seem to be in a tight spot, given that his wife works for Obama. But in an interview conducted by Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, the former president made it clear that now is neither the time to be increasing taxes nor to be imposing more regulations on businesses and consumers.
Thinking like that from the man who once plummeted to low approval ratings after his first two years of being president is not surprising. Recall that Clinton then turned his political fortunes around in large part by pragmatically embracing some rightward-leaning proposals from a majority-Republican House.
From the open class warfare he's now engaged in, it's plain that President Obama has no intention of following Clinton's example. And after reading the recent interview of him, it's just as plain that Clinton has more knowledge in his little finger than the inexperienced Obama does in his whole body.
This Newsmax interview can be looked upon as a gentle settling of many scores by Clinton with his fellow Democrats, who have led his party into the land of left-wing loons.
Clinton also took a strong, if indirect, swipe at his former vice president, Al Gore, when the subject of global warming came up. In short, Clinton said that he himself has decided to dodge the debate over the effort to curb global warming. Why? Because it matters little what the United States does when China still refuses to sign any future agreement on reducing greenhouse gasses.
Now that's obvious enough to most businesspeople, and for that matter to those who closely follow the climate debate. But when Bill Clinton delivers that news in a smackdown, it's the equivalent of him looking at his old "pal" Al and pointing out that he travels in private jets and SUVs — two items with large "carbon footprints" of their own. (Recall that Gore "dissed" Clinton when Gore ran for president in 2000.)
Let's face it. Bill Clinton thinks that Hillary got a raw deal from both the media and the Democratic National Committee when she ran for president against Obama in '08. And a recent PollPosition survey shows that more Americans say they now would prefer Ms. Clinton to Obama as president. (That is, if they had to have a Democrat in office.)
The Democratic establishment did everything it could to keep Hillary Clinton from winning. For starters, it punished her for the decision by Florida's Republican legislature to move up the date of the '08 Florida presidential primary. Had the DNC allowed the results of the Florida Democratic primary to stand, Ms. Clinton would have surged to a lead in total delegates and Obama likely would have lost momentum.
Also in the Newsmax interview, Bill Clinton gently unloaded on the newest round of Obamanomics. He said Obama's approach to the deficit "is a little bit confusing." Translation: The president has no clue what he is doing.
As for tax increases — even on millionaires — Clinton took a swipe at Obama's rather blatant play to stir up class envy.
Said Clinton: "We don't have (in the United States) a lot of resentment against people who are successful. We kind of like it, Americans do. It's one of our best characteristics. If we think someone earned their money, we do not resent their success. That's why there's been very little class conflict in American history."
In other words, pitting the rest of America against the so-called "wealthy" is a dumb idea that could lead to damaging class conflict.
More evidence for my interpretation of Clinton's remarks: He blew off Obama's obsession with tax increases by saying, "I personally don't believe we ought to be raising taxes or cutting spending until we get this economy off the ground." Translation: I don't favor his tax increases, but I'll oppose cuts also, just to appear even-handed.
This amazing interview just kept yielding goodies. There was Clinton suggesting that Obama should pull back from the implementation of new government regulations. "A business can't do five things at once."
And there was his suggestion that the president and Congress should ask corporate America and the banks what it would take to free up the trillions of dollars they are sitting on.
To Clinton critics, yes, he was a Democrat, and a flawed one at that. And yes, he likely will have to water down his remarks or kiss Obama's tail in the next few days because of what he was quoted as saying about the president.
But make no mistake. Bill Clinton got his revenge in this interview.
Matt Towery is author of the book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. Follow him on Twitter @matttowery.
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