He cheated multiple times on his wife, sold secrets to China for campaign cash …

… and, among other thigns, was a miserable failure in the counterterrorism department, but the only thing that can apparently hurt Bubba’s image is … his active role in his wife’s campaign:

Bill Clinton’s reentry into the political arena appears to have come at some cost to his legacy. New polling now suggests that Clinton’s involvement in the Democratic nomination battle between his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama, has significantly tarnished the former president’s image.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Thursday found that more Americans view Bill Clinton negatively than positively, 45 to 42 percent. It marked the first time since January 2002 that a plurality of Americans disapproved of the former president. One month earlier, The Gallup Poll found that nearly as many Americans had an unfavorable as favorable view of Bill Clinton—for the first time in nearly five years.

Presidential historians said Clinton’s return to partisan politics made it likely that public perception of the former president would suffer.

“There is a certain historical glow that surrounds a president as some of his historical battles become more distant. Clinton getting back in the mud again makes him a much more partisan figure” said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University. “And it’s not like it’s been an acclaimed experience for him.”


His return to elected politics changed all that. In New Hampshire, he referred to Obama’s early opposition to the Iraq war as the “biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen” a remark that would come to be seen by many as an attempt to belittle Obama. He later accused Obama’s staff of voter suppression in Nevada—a sensitive charge in Democratic circles.

Clinton’s low point came in South Carolina, where he drew criticism for comparing Obama’s candidacy to Jesse Jackson, a remark widely viewed as an attempt to pigeonhole Obama as a candidate who appeals largely to black voters. Clinton also took on a much more adversarial role with the media, a posture unseen since his years in the White House.

On that charge, Bill Clinton cries fowl:

(CNN) — Former President Bill Clinton defended his role in his wife’s presidential campaign in South Carolina, disputing claims he made race a campaign issue.

“What happened there is a total myth and a mugging,” Clinton told CNN’s Sean Callebs in New Orleans, Louisiana, over the weekend.

“It’s been pretty well established. Charlie Rangel … the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in unequivocal terms in South Carolina that no one in our campaign played any race card, that we had some played against us, but we didn’t play any.”

I’d hardly call Charlie Rangel an Absolute Moral Authority on the issue, but in this case, The Slickster is right, for reasons I mentioned here, reasons Sean Wilentz expanded on here. WJC actually managed to defend himself without getting red-faced, probably because, at least in this case, he wasn’t lying.

And while Bill Clinton is trying to defend himself from charges he injected race into the campaign pre-SC Dem primary, Reuters reports that Hillary is both grappling with the loss of support in the black community, and flashing her anti-war credentials by claiming “we cannot win” in Iraq. Now if that’s not a show of strength from someone who desperately wants to be our Commander in Chief, I don’t know what is.

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