Bill Kristol piles on the Clintons in what is actually a pretty good op-ed today:
Then on Saturday, in Columbia, pre-spinning his wife’s imminent defeat, Clinton reminded reporters out of the blue that “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in ’84 and ’88. And he ran a good campaign. And Senator Obama’s run a good campaign here. He’s run a good campaign everywhere.”
What do Jesse Jackson’s victories two decades ago have to do with this year’s Obama-Clinton race? The Obama campaign is nothing like Jackson’s. Obama isn’t running on Jackson-like themes. Obama rarely refers to Jackson.
Clinton’s comment alludes to one thing, and to one thing only: Jackson and Obama are both black candidates. The silent premise of Clinton’s comment is that Obama’s victory in South Carolina doesn’t really count. Or, at least, Clinton is suggesting, it doesn’t mean any more than Jackson’s did.
Obama, in particular, built a massive, convincing organization, with a staff at its Columbia headquarters so large that they held an “Obama-Q” nightly over the last week, roasting and consuming an entire pig each night.
I’m surprised Bill Clinton couldn’t find a way to make a snide comment about that . . .
But to go back to Kristol’s piece, it highlights something that we — as the non-insider public — usually only get oblique glimpses of, which is how much a candidate is actually liked. And in the season of endorsements, it seems that there are many who don’t actually like the Clintons:
[Clinton’s dive in the polls] could be hastened by the expected endorsement of Obama by Ted Kennedy on Monday. It could be helped further along if Al Gore hops aboard the Obama bandwagon later in the week. Meanwhile, Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader during most of the Clinton presidency, is actively supporting Obama. Talk to Democrats in D.C., and it’s amazing how many who know the Clintons well — many of whom worked in the Clinton administration — are eager that they not return to the White House.
I think a similar thing has happened in New York state, where Governor Elliot Spitzer (until fairly recently) had astonishingly low favorability numbers — and I don’t think it was all due to the illegal immigrant drivers licenses, either. Rather, the true character of the steamroller filtered down in complicated ways — if not bad media coverage then at least ambiguous coverage, word-of-mouth from people working in government, rival elected officials dissing him in obvious and not so obvious ways. Point being, I wonder if this is a tipping point for the Clintons . . .