Bill Clinton is back ( if he was ever gone) hawking his latest book Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. Of course if you are a Democrat, Bill lays out the basic line of his party on how to deal with the economic distress this country is in- spending cuts and tax increases on the rich, entitlement reform but not in ways that decimates Social Security and Medicare, and debt reduction that does not dismantle valuable government programs.
The 41st president is clearly aiming to respond to the message of the Tea Party and the conservative wing of the Republican Party in Congress, who have cornered the market on making an anti-government case to the American people. Not surprisingly Clinton goes after the Bush administration for spending on two wars, a tax cut for the rich and well born and a seniors prescription drug program with no revenue stream to pay for it.
Clinton, who is not shy about the success of the economy during his administration, takes a few swipes at Barack Obama for allowing the right-wing to control the national dialogue and for allowing the Republicans in Congress to push the administration around.
Clinton’s main advice is for Obama and the Democrats to fashion an electoral storyline that counteracts the Republicans. The storyline would go something like this: the Republicans have ignored if not destroyed the financial underpinnings of the middle class by their tax, subsidy, and policy positions. The Republicans are not the friends of the middle class and it is only the Democrats who want to restore the financial security and destiny of the hard working folks who are losing their job, their homes and their futures.
Clinton, not Obama, would be perfect for presenting this storyline, but he is permanently out of the presidential sweepstakes. He can only advise Obama and the Democrats. The question is whether they will listen to him and develop a Clintonesque approach to taking on the Republicans in 2012.
Say what you will about Ol’Bill’s wandering eye and the fact that he didn’t inhale in college but the guy knows how to speak to the American people and get them to see the Democratic side of the political equation. The problem is that President Obama is not President Clinton and these are terrible times, not the go go days of the 1990s. We will just have to see if Ol’Bill’s advice and vision make inroads at the White House and among Democrats running for Congress.