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The Power Of Clinton, The Invisibility Of Obama - Howard Fineman [View All]

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onehandle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-13-10 09:08 AM
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The Power Of Clinton, The Invisibility Of Obama - Howard Fineman
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LOUISVILLE -- I see that Dr. Rand Paul has taken out after Bill Clinton, dredging up Monica Lewinsky. And I know why Paul did so. The former president was here in Kentucky yesterday and in this state, as in many others, he is a far more potent and popular foe than President Barack Obama.

On my first day working for The Huffington Post, I came back to Kentucky, where I began my career many years ago at the Courier-Journal. The people who run the University of Louisville Kentucky Author Forum wanted me to do an on-stage interview with a certain best-selling author who is also my new boss: Arianna Huffington. It was a tricky mix of professional incest and personal nostalgia, but the event worked out well and I also got a chance to play Kentucky reporter once again out in the state. I raced over to Lexington and here is the ground-level, outside-the-Beltway reality I witnessed: Like Voldemort's, Obama's is a name no one dares utter -- and that includes Clinton speaking to Democrats.

At a sunny, noontime rally on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington yesterday, the former president made a stirring, well-argued case for Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway and for Democrats generally -- without once mentioning Obama and rarely mentioning the presidency. It was as though we suddenly had only two branches of government. To be fair, almost no one else at the one-hour rally mentioned the sitting president. And Kentucky is staunch Republican territory. "We're farther ahead in the generic ballot here than ever," GOP Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told me yesterday. "President Obama was never popular here, even at his peak."

Still, the eerie invisibility of the president is a telling commentary on the Democrats' confused, divided and defensive predicament as they brace for the verdict of the voters on Election Day, Nov. 2. There was something odd -- and, if you're a Democrat, depressing -- about a former Democratic president avoiding any mention of his Democratic successor. Clinton sincerely wants to help out on the trail -- and certainly wants to avoid the accusation that he didn't try to help. But his travels have turned into a personal victory lap that often makes him -- not the candidate he's touting -- the center of attention. That was true here in Kentucky. The rally's mechanics were mostly handled by the Secret Service; more to the point, the final (and therefore top-billed) speaker wasn't Conway. It was Clinton. The Conway people didn't mind. They were glad to have him.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/12/post_548_n_759798.html
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