Memo to Congress and the President: Call on Bill Clinton


Republicans fume over Obama’s management by crisis and his unwillingness to bring parties together directly, himself, to work out solutions.  What I think they are missing is that he is not unwilling.  He’s unable, he’s incapable, and he cannot afford the risk of further exposure.

Ever since Obama got his clock cleaned by Paul Ryan in February 2010, he has tried his best to avoid repeating such embarrassments.  The president has little substantive knowledge and virtually no talent for anything outside of demagogic teleprompter arias.  He knows it, he knows his opposition knows it, and worst of all, he knows most Democrats now quietly suspect it.  If he were to preside at another such meeting over the sequester “cuts”, he would risk removing all doubt. Can you imagine him sitting there again with that deer-in-the-headlights look?  He simply can’t afford that.

So what’s a president, who rose to power by dodging responsibility at every turn, to do in this most recent self-inflicted dilemma?

It’s really easy. Just avoid responsibility once again!

Namely, Mr. President:

Call on Bill Clinton to run a bi-partisan negotiation of targeted “cuts” to the modest reduction in 2013 budget increases known as the “sequester.”

Why?  Just think of the advantages, Mr. President:

1. If Clinton succeeds, you can easily take credit for it, and the press will help.  After all, you will have chosen the right man for the job, no?  Brilliant!

2. If Clinton fails, it’s Clinton’s fault, not yours — at least not directly.  Your servile, supine press can easily cover that outcome too by blaming Republicans.  And you can join in.  No problem.  You do it all the time.

3. You don’t actually have to do much of anything — you won’t have to “bone up” on boring budget details or to learn how to manage a budget in a downturn the way any business owner has to do.  Just sit atop your lofty perch and offer occasional bland statements of confidence in the participants. Play some more golf. Just keep “voting present” and avoid any direct participation. You know what I mean. It’s your stock in trade.

4. Bill Clinton will love it.  He’s been pining to get back in the game for years, and this would do it for him — big time.  He could become a modern-day version of Henry Clay, aka the Great Compromiser.  I remember learning about Clay in a US History class taught from a traditional perspective — not the more modern proctological perspective of a Howard Zinn textbook.

5. After four years of your leadership style, most Republicans will welcome Bill Clinton.  His work on bipartisan welfare reform in the 1990’s was both brave and brilliant. It delivered real results, including self-sufficiency and self-respect for many former welfare recipients.  We’ve seen no Democrat leadership like that since.  It could work again.

6. Perhaps most important, you could delay once more your own defrocking as an ideological demagogue with no talent for leadership in a country that runs on free markets rather than “free stuff”.  You could continue your celebrity presidency unabated.  In other words, you could squeak by yet again.

Oh, to be sure, one day, some bold Democrats are going to proclaim that the emperor has no clothes (an especially apt metaphor in this case), and the whole thing is going to come crashing down on your head.  But there’s no need to risk hastening that process now, is there?

If Clinton does well with the sequester negotiations, treat the experience as a pilot test for even bigger negotiations like the debt ceiling, tax reform, and entitlements reform.  We could make some real headway, and you would surely benefit.

Are you still doubtful?  Conduct a private anonymous poll among Democrats and Republicans.  Ask how many would like the idea of having Bill Clinton be your surrogate in these crucial negotiations.  What do you think they’d say?

So save yourself, Mr. President.  And help the country.  Call on Bill Clinton!