It's possible that I'm being too harsh on our 42nd President. Surely one could cite many more egregious examples of cocksuckery in 2008. But the fact is that certain people have grown tiresome as targets of derision. Like a historian would grow weary of discussing Hitler in response to "Who was the worst person of the 20th Century?" I am similarly unenthusiastic about pointing out for the billionth time that Bush, Cheney, O'Reilly, Lieberman, Hannity, and so on are cocksuckers. I would be one lazy bastard (and you probably would not bother to read this site) if I sat here and wrote that Michelle Malkin is real stupid and Bill O'Reilly does not often represent opposing viewpoints fairly. Come on.

So the Bronze Penis for 2008 goes to a man whose qualifications for the award were considerably more nuanced and quickly forgotten in the roiling wake of an Obama victory. It's a good thing that Barack Obama did not need Bill Clinton's help in this election because Willie made it abundantly clear that if Obama were on fire he would not walk across the street to piss on him and extinguish the flames.

Did Bill Clinton pull a Lieberman and actively crusade against his party's nominee? Of course not. You'd have a better chance of catching Bill having sex with his legally-recognized spouse than on the trail with Sarah Palin. Instead he engaged in what could only be described as an extended and remarkably juvenile fit of pouting after it became clear that his wife he would not be going back to the White House except as a potential dinner guest. He pouted because the entirety of Hillary's campaign was, in Bill's mind, about Bill.

He began the year by proving himself unworthy of the credit he received for moving politics beyond race in the 1990s when he explained away Barack Obama's primary victory in South Carolina by helpfully noting that Jesse Jackson also won South Carolina (wink wink!) in 1984 and 1988. He became the leading advocate of the Hillary campaign's desperate and Republicanesque persecution complex, arguing that the nomination (which rightfully belonged to her, of course) was stolen away by the evil, biased media and a new version of the vast right-wing conspiracy with Obama in the role of Kenneth Starr. He told voters that Obama didn't love his country nor was he committed to its interests. He urged his wife's campaign to hold out to the bitter end, to fight long past the point at which the nomination was obtainable outside of a courtroom because unknown, untested, vaguely foreign dark guy Barack Obama would be an unmitigated disaster for his party as the nominee and for the nation as President.

Once the Clinton camp finally admitted defeat, Bill's actions suggest that "team player" is not the best phrase we could use to describe him. His June 24th endorsement of the nominee, which came forth only after considerable media and party arm-twisting, was a one-sentence monument to ambivalence written by an unpaid intern:

President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next President of the United States.

No, that isn't actually an endorsement, but it's what we had to work with. He could be cowed into making a press release but a real, honest-to-god public endorsement was months away. While stingy with his praise for Obama, he did find the time to give a speech lauding John McCain's "visionary" position on global warming and to excuse the Republican nominee's lame-assed proposal to postpone the presidential debates as being "in good faith." He got himself invited onto The View and Letterman to showcase his spectacular ability to "stump for" the nominee without using his name or praising him. Yes, such non-statements were the bitter pill our former President had to swallow in order to indulge his narcissistic obsession with being on national TV.

It was not until October – well past the point at which it would actually be useful in this election – that Bill truly stumped for Obama, using his popularity in Florida to campaign as a surrogate. He even made a joint campaign appearance with the nominee…six days before the election, timing that reeks more of grabbing the last available seat on a bandwagon than making a good-faith effort to help.

Bill's sudden change of heart in October is likely a result of two things. First, he had weeks – nay, months – to sit around and sulk about the outcome of the primaries. Presumably he got over it, at least a little bit. Second, and far more importantly, deals were no doubt cut with Hillary shortly before or during the Democratic Convention to give her a high-visibility Cabinet position. It wouldn't be as good as the White House, but it'd give Bill a reasonable excuse (and ample opportunity) to get his mug on the evening news with some regularity.

And that's really what 2008 was all about for Bill Clinton: a quest to circumvent the inconvenient Constitutional reality that he can no longer be the leader of the free world. He took his wife's defeat personally because he didn't see it as her defeat. It was his. He assumed that America shared his view of the arrangement, that we were voting for Hillary only because we couldn't do what we really wanted to, i.e. vote for him. We all know that he and his wife are in a cold, cynical marriage in which each sees the other solely as an avenue to power. He was her surrogate in the 1990s and now he was only too happy to reverse roles. Failing that, he wanted a Democratic nominee who would need him, who would count on him and his unparalleled popularity among middle-class voters to deliver a victory. A candidate who needed Bill would owe him big. But Bill got neither. His surrogate was defeated and the nominee readily supplanted the former President's role as Most Popular Democrat on Earth. Obama became what Bill Clinton has been for the past sixteen years – the name and face of the Democratic Party. Such a transition is natural and inevitable. It certainly needn't spell the end of Bill's public life and political influence. But as far as torch-passings go, Bill Clinton v.2008 left more than a little to be desired in the grace department and nothing to be desired in the cocksucking department.

One thought on “2008 CotY BRONZE MEDAL: BILL CLINTON”

  • My favorite quid-pro-quo political quote from 2008, before the Blago situation blew up, was what Clinton reportedly said to Bill Richardson after Richardson came out in favor of Obama during a crucial primary month – “What, isn’t two cabinet posts enough?”

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