Legacy Watch: Bubba and John Edwards
Charles Krauthammer has a great piece up today about how Bill Clinton is still obsessed over his legacy, especially now that many on the left want to "deny" him that legacy because of how he picked on poor lil’ Barack Obama:
There was general amazement when (the now-muzzled) Bill Clinton did his red-faced, attack-dog, race-baiting performance in South Carolina. Friends, Democrats and longtime media sycophants were variously perplexed, repulsed, enraged, mystified and shocked that this beloved ex-president would so jeopardize his legacy by stooping so low.
What they don’t understand is that for Clinton, there is no legacy. What he was doing on the low road from Iowa to South Carolina was fighting for a legacy — a legacy that he knows history has denied him and that he has but one chance to redeem.
Clinton is a narcissist but also smart and analytic enough to distinguish adulation from achievement. Among Democrats, he is popular for twice giving them the White House, something no Democrat has done since FDR. And the bouquets he receives abroad are simply signs of the respect routinely given ex-presidents, though Clinton earns an extra dollop of fawning, with the accompanying fringe benefits, because he is (a) charming and (b) not George W. Bush.
But Clinton knows this is all written on sand. It is the stuff of celebrity. What gnaws at him is the verdict of history. What clearly enraged him more than anything this primary season was Barack Obama’s statement that "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that … Bill Clinton did not."
The Clintons tried to use this against Obama by charging him with harboring secret Republican sympathies. It was a stupid charge that elicited only scorn. And not just because Obama is no Reaganite, but because Obama’s assessment is so obviously true: Reagan was consequential. Clinton was not.
Ouch. Read the whole thing.
On the other hand, we have Kruggie over at the NYT (h/t: Memeorandum) trying to create a legacy for His Royal Phoniness, who dropped out of the presidential race this week:
So John Edwards has dropped out of the race for the presidency. By normal political standards, his campaign fell short.
But Mr. Edwards, far more than is usual in modern politics, ran a campaign based on ideas. And even as his personal quest for the White House faltered, his ideas triumphed: both candidates left standing are, to a large extent, running on the platform Mr. Edwards built.
To understand the extent of the Edwards effect, you have to think about what might have been.
At the beginning of 2007, it seemed likely that the Democratic nominee would run a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas. That, after all, is what John Kerry did in 2004.
If 2008 is different, it will be largely thanks to Mr. Edwards. He made a habit of introducing bold policy proposals — and they were met with such enthusiasm among Democrats that his rivals were more or less forced to follow suit.
One thing is clear, however: whichever candidate does get the nomination, his or her chance of victory will rest largely on the ideas Mr. Edwards brought to the campaign.
Personal appeal won’t do the job: history shows that Republicans are very good at demonizing their opponents as individuals. Mrs. Clinton has already received the full treatment, while Mr. Obama hasn’t — yet. But if he gets the nod, watch how quickly conservative pundits who have praised him discover that he has deep character flaws.
If Democrats manage to get the focus on their substantive differences with the Republicans, however, polls on the issues suggest that they’ll have a big advantage. And they’ll have Mr. Edwards to thank.
Yeah, that sweet, selfless John Edwards! When he’s not getting $400 haircuts, hiring and defending foul-mouthed liberal bloggers, pandering to the 9-11 Truther crowd, starting self-beneficial poverty centers, working for an evil hedge-fund operator in order to ‘learn about financial markets’ and how they ‘link to poverty,’ shamelessing using his wife’s cancer as a fundraising tool, and equally shamlessly using Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter to score cheap political points, promising to make disabled people like Christopher Reeve walk again, and channeling unborn babies as a trial lawyer, he’s inspiring the top tier candidates in the Democratic party who kicked his behind in every primary state except Iowa to bring ‘real ideas’ to the table.
What a guy! Can you feel the love?