Leading article: Diminished and discredited

Share
Related Topics

In theory, Barack Obama should have been Bill Clinton's ideal candidate for US President. Young, bright, ambitious and bold, with an unerring popular touch, Mr Obama has so much in common with the former President. And, even 16 years apart, in such very different Americas, their messages of can-do optimism, social inclusion and change allow voters to think better of themselves. Whatever one thinks about Toni Morrison's remark about Mr Clinton being the first black US President, he can nonetheless be seen as a trailblazer for Mr Obama in this way, too.

If only, it is tempting to say, Mr Obama had not emerged as the main obstacle to Mr Clinton's wife winning the Democratic nomination, a great deal could have been different. The most exciting presidential candidate at least since Bill Clinton, and possibly since JFK, could have had perhaps the most accomplished US political campaigner on his side from the start.

Instead, something almost inconceivable happened. The former President, who had emerged from the White House personally tarnished, but still respected for his political and leadership gifts, managed to damage the formidable reputation he had left. Even as Hillary Clinton's stature grew, Bill lost what remained of his, stooping to petulance, sniping and – shamefully – even racist innuendo, all to undermine a candidate he should rather have embraced as an heir to his better self. The former President left the campaign trail diminished and discredited.

The art of graceful losing was never among Bill Clinton's strengths, and it might be said that he is now so compromised a figure that Barack Obama would be better off without his support. This is not, however, how American politics operates, especially not when the presidency is at stake. If Mr Obama cannot unite leading party figures, including former opponents and even former presidents around him, his campaign will be weaker than it should be. Especially after such a divisive primary season, it must be all hands on deck – and that includes not only Mrs Clinton, but her disappointed and ill-tempered husband, too.

Since Mr Obama won the Democrat nomination, Mr Clinton's expressions of support have been distinctly lukewarm and conspicuously few and far between. There have been reports of disdain and rank-pulling on the former President's side. A meeting between the two men, expected this week, is clearly long overdue. If both Clintons can recognise in the Democratic Party nominee many of those same qualities that took the unfancied "man from Hope" to the White House, Barack Obama will be that much closer to having a winning team.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice
File photo dated 11/3/2014 of signage for the main entrance and emergency department at a hospital  

Weekend opt-out is stumbling block as BMA and NHS negotiate new consultant and junior doctor contracts

Charlie Cooper
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms