He may have served as a state attorney general and governor, and two-terms as the President of the United States, but these days Bill Clinton is simply a pain in the ass. Really, he always has been but his presidential tenure was made tolerable by the asinine behavior and partisanship of House Republicans. Just when we thought he had settled down and accepted his role off-stage, his equally driven spouse makes a run for the White House and like magic, Bill Clinton is back center-stage. Unlike Jimmy Carter who has spent his post-presidency as a model of public service or the chosen obscurity of George W. Bush, the 42nd President is obsessed with staying in the public limelight.
His latest escapade was his convenient arrival on an airport tarmac at the same time as Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s jet was parked, and the former president’s subsequent courtesy call on Lynch. Mind you this is the same attorney general who was leading the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as Secretary of State. It is also worth noting that as a former state attorney general Clinton knew well the inappropriateness of his visit. While he claims the exchange was merely coincidental and innocent, it is an explanation that is hardly believable from a former president and someone who has as much political experience as Bill Clinton. It was an inconvenience visited upon the Attorney General by Clinton and he showed no concern over its stain upon her credibility. I believe he knew full well the implications of his contact with Attorney General Lynch and purposely created a dynamic that now makes any action against Hillary Clinton suspect.
It is classic Bill Clinton – setting in motion questionable practices and then feigning ignorance when questionable outcomes occur. It seems as though some folks are always inconvenienced at the hands of Clinton. His presidency was fraught with these inconveniences. We had a trade bill that inconveniently shipped jobs overseas and transformed the domestic labor market into a sea of low-wage jobs. Then there was that crime bill, supposedly to keep citizens safe but inconveniently criminalizing young Black men and setting in motion decades of mass incarceration and catalyzing a private prison industry. Then there were those young mothers who were inconvenienced by welfare reform that treated poverty as a sin and single mothers as pariahs. Independent Black-owned radio stations were inconvenienced when a telecommunications bill that facilitated corporate control of media was signed into law by President Clinton.
There is also a trail of Black collateral damage behind Clinton. During his presidency we witnessed law professor Lani Guinier and two surgeon generals, Dr. Jocelyn Elders and Dr. Henry Foster, get tossed in the wind. He was ready to deep-six affirmative action until then Representative Kweisi Mfume, heading the Congressional Black Caucus, held firm and “mend it, don’t end it” became the fallback position. Once he lost the House to the Gingrich revolution, our “first Black President” comfortably settled into his New Democrat skin from his center-right Democratic Leadership Council days. His divisive tongue during the 2008 presidential election reminded us that his politics were unquestionably Dixie rooted. We saw some of that old South resentment on display on the current presidential campaign trail when a Black protester at a Hillary rally confronted Bill Clinton over his crime bill. Now, Attorney General Lynch might be Clinton’s latest Black road kill. She could find her reputation irreparably damaged in the nation’s capital and future in public service law, including an appointment to the federal bench, marginalized by the behavior of the former president.
It seems Bill Clinton, no matter the circumstances, always pulls up to the self-serve pump when seeking to fuel his political ambitions. His self-interest takes precedence over public service, and his recklessness is a personality trait that he seems unable to manage. It begs the question of who will manage him if Hillary Clinton wins in November and he returns to the West Wing. Since the former Secretary of State has already indicated her husband will have a policy role in a Hillary Clinton administration, who will restrain him from making self-inflicted wounds upon her presidency?
It’s time for this former commander-in-chief to find a hobby other than creator of chaos. He has become the finger wagging old white man who feels universally entitled. It’s an act that’s become old and offensive. There is a point where the formality of respect for a former president cannot be maintained in the face of a boorishness that seems deliberate in its offensiveness. We are well past that point with Bill Clinton.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.