BILL CLINTON: WILL HE BE AMERICA’S FIRST MAN?

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By Robert J. Guttman

 

July 26, 2016

 

Will former President Bill Clinton become America’s First Man if his wife wins the White House this November?

Will the former Chief Executive be called First Man, First Husband, First Spouse or Mr. President?

Will it be the Presidents Clinton?

Hillary may not make it to her dream job as Trump got a bounce out of the GOP Convention in Cleveland and is leading her in new polls by several points.

However, the Democrats hope to get their own bounce after their convention going on now in Philadelphia. Last night was an encouraging sign as dissension began turning to unity for Hillary.

The former governor of Arkansas will be the key speaker tonight as he touts his wife’s many qualities for the presidency. He will have to hit it out of the park to do as well as First Lady Michelle Obama did in her excellent speech last night.

What can you say about the Clintons that hasn’t already been said a million times over the past several decades? The Clintons are the establishment.  The Clintons personify the Democratic Party today.

Bill Clinton will be speaking tonight in Philadelphia. “There never has been a speech quite like the one Bill Clinton will deliver in Philadelphia, no matter what he says.  A husband speaking on behalf of his wife-that has been done before.  A former president speaking in support of a prospective president is also nothing new.  But the combination of the two is unprecedented.  A former president who wants to be first man extolling the virtues of a former first lady who wants to be president.  Only the Clintons,” according to an article in the July 25th Washington Post by long time Bill Clinton observer David Maraniss.

Bill Clinton “has been speaking at Democratic conventions since 1976, when the Carter team handed him a modest assignment to praise Harry Truman, and the results over the years have shown him at his best and worst.  He was humiliated while delivering the keynote speech for Michael Dukakis in Atlanta in 1988.  Delegates yakked on the floor, barely listening.  The lights in the hall were too bright.  And he droned on so long that cheers erupted when he reached the words ‘in conclusion’. His own acceptance speeches had only a few memorable lines-from a place called Hope in 1992, the bridge to the 21st century in 1996.  Four years ago in Charlotte, he articulated the case for the Democrats against the Republicans with a power and simple clarity that Obama could not summon.  That speech, lifting the party out of a mild funk, might have been his most meaningful at a convention since 1992.  Until this one,” states David Maraniss in his Washington Post piece.

The former president looks frailer these days since his heart operation and his vegan diet. His voice is quieter.  But he still commands the respect as the leading party elder of the Democratic Party.

He has come a long way from the Governor of Arkansas to the two term President of the United States. Even though he was impeached and many expected him to resign over the Lewinsky scandal , he rode it out and ended his second term with some of the highest approval ratings ever seen by an outgoing president.

Bill Clinton presided over a booming economy and mostly peaceful times here and abroad. Terrorism was not the overriding concern it has become since 9/11.

The saxophone playing president was colorful and certainly entertained us. People say Trump would be the Entertainer in Chief if he is elected.  Bill Clinton was certainly America’s Entertainer in Chief during his two terms in the 1990s.

He was actually one of most conservative Democratic presidents we have had serve in office. The former Yale Law School graduate was pro-business and believed in globalization, the Third Way and trade deals.

As a former international economist/international trade specialist with the federal government, I am amazed and saddened to see both parties attack international trade and international trade agreements as something sinister. They are not.  Bill Clinton, who pushed through NAFTA, was a strong supporter of globalization as a way to create jobs for American workers.  Today, both parties seem to scoff at this idea.

Many Americans were shocked and dismayed by the former president’s personal behavior and lack of discipline while he was in office. He put the country through a lengthy series of lies and denials and became only the second American president to be impeached.

Since his presidency he has established the Clinton Foundation which has done good around the world even while embroiled in controversy over its donors.

Controversy has always followed the Clintons, whether for Bill’s personal indiscretions or Hillary’s email scandal, and if Bill becomes First Man with his wife as president we can expect more controversy, chaos and confusion.

What would Bill do as First Spouse? Would he be a roving ambassador or would he be just roving up to some of his old tricks?

Would Bill hang out at the White House or would he be elsewhere most of the time?

How much influence would the former president have on the 45th president?

Will Bill play a major or minor role in the general election campaign this fall?

Whatever he is called, First Man, First Spouse, First Husband, or some other title he will be unique, interesting, and, yes, controversial!

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