Bill Clinton: Rogue Co-President in Waiting
A Commentary by Dick Morris
Make no mistake about it: If Hillary Clinton is elected president, her husband will be her rogue co-president, causing constant chaos, crises and conflicts for her new administration.
And sometimes, that will be exactly what Hillary wants.
Chaos is Bill Clinton’s signature style and he’s not about to suddenly change. No way.
Nor does Hillary necessarily want him to be a new Bill. In many ways, his divisive role in her campaign has been carefully crafted by Hillary and her team. It might come in useful in the White House, too.
Throughout Hillary’s campaign, Bill has given us an unfortunate preview of what we can expect of him in the White House. And, it’s not a pretty picture.
Forget about the elder statesman, the international philanthropist, the charming idealist. Those veneers, carefully created and promoted in the past eight years, were washed away by the race-baiting, snarling, finger-waving, press-bashing partisan who talks about himself for hours at a time. And because of YouTube, voters have had the novel experience of personally witnessing the Clinton meltdowns on video without the sometimes cleansing intermediaries of the national press. It is one thing to read that Bill Clinton confronted a reporter; it is quite another thing to see the red-faced former president angrily pointing his finger in the face of a journalist who dared to ask him a legitimate question. For the first time, the public is seeing the Bill Clinton known to anyone who has ever worked for him.
But don’t think that Bill wasn’t working from a carefully plotted script, personally approved by Hillary. He was. He was the designated hit man. And Hillary and her aides didn’t even bother to hide their glee at his escalating personal attacks on Obama. Gravely misunderstanding the mood of the electorate, they believed it was a great strategy, and patted themselves on the back as they leaked the story of their own brilliance. As the New York Times reported:
"Advisers to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton say they have concluded that Bill Clinton’s aggressive politicking against Senator Barack Obama is resonating with voters, and they intend to keep him on the campaign trail in a major role after the South Carolina primary.”
So we can assume that Hillary approved the use of the race card and thought that it would work. She was wrong. Very wrong. After universal condemnation (well, almost universal — Hillary has never criticized him) for his antics in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Clinton has now quieted down. The Obama endorsements by Caroline and Ted Kennedy dramatically stunned the Clintons. They had no idea of what was coming, but immediately understand the enormity of the defection. So, they’ve retooled and Bill is now earnestly playing the supportive spouse who stays on message. But that’s just an act. His shelf life in that role is extremely limited. And when Hillary wants another attack dog, she’ll call on Bill — whether it’s in the campaign or the White House, if she gets there.
But there’s more to worry about with Bill. His temper has always been there, even if it was carefully hidden from the public. But his thirst for big bucks that has led him to dubious new endeavors is a new development that can cause trouble for Hillary.
At the core of Bill Clinton is a bold recklessness that cannot be harnessed. That inherent quality about him, combined with his arrogance and certitude leads him to test all boundaries. As a result, he involves himself in questionable financial deals, partners with inappropriate businesses and ignores blatant conflicts of interest. These arrangements will cause serious problems for a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Consider the case of Kazakhstan. The U.S. State Department has described the election of its current president as one that was filled with anti-Democratic procedures that prevented opposition parties and candidates from participating in the election. All power in the government is concentrated in the president and there is widespread corruption. There is one opposition member in the Parliament. Human rights violations are rampant. Freedom of the press does not exist.
Yet, in late 2006, as his wife was laying the ground work for a presidential race and serving in the U.S. Senate, Bill Clinton flew on a lavish private plane to the former Soviet State and met with its President, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, known best for eliminating all opposition in his country. In the short time that he was there, Clinton promoted Nazarbayev for chairman of a U.N. committee – a position that the United States government, and his own wife, had opposed. That made no difference to Clinton. Of course, he never mentioned anything at all about the rampant human rights violations.
Clinton was there as the guest of Frank Giustra, a Canadian billionaire who wanted to buy the country’s uranium rights. Although he had no experience in this area of the world, he was suddenly awarded the contract which the New York Times termed a "monster deal…. [that] suddenly transformed the company into the world’s largest uranium producers."
Clinton made sure that the Kazahstan President understood that Giustra and Clinton were an item.
After the deal was closed, Clinton’s foundation received a $31 million contribution from Giustra and a pledge of another $100 million.
What’s wrong with that? Well, aside from deliberately and publicly undermining the articulated policy of the United States government, Bill Clinton traded his power and his prestige in exchange for an unprecedented contribution to his foundation, which refuses to release the names of its donors. Clinton has considerable latitude in how the foundation funds are spent and the foundation board is filled with his cronies.
But there’s something else: Bill Clinton’s conduct raises a serious question about whether any other promises were made that might relate to favors that could be done by a future Clinton administration. Whether there were any promises or not, it just doesn’t look good. It’s an inappropriate role for an ex-president. Did Kazakhstan make a contribution to the library, too?
Bill Clinton’s contacts with that country didn’t stop with the short visit. After Hillary announced her candidacy for president, Giustra arranged for Clinton to meet with a government representative from Kazakhstan at his Chappaqua home to discuss the government’s plan to buy a 10 percent stake in Westinghouse. At first, Clinton and Guistra denied any such meeting, but then the government representative, who had earlier handled the uranium matter, produced a photo showing him at the Clinton home with the former president.
No wonder Clinton lied about it. He knows that he should not be meeting with representatives of foreign governments who need favors in Washington — favors that could be delivered by his wife if she becomes president.
Then there’s the issue of Bill’s financial partnership with the Emir of Dubai and his buddy Ron Burkle. Should the husband of a presidential candidate — or even a U.S. senator — be in business with the head of a foreign country with growing interests in the U.S.?
The answer is NO. Bill knows that — that’s why he’s trying to get a $20 million buy-out. Should we be wondering what he did for all that money?
Finally, there’s Bill’s ‘consulting’ for InfoUSA, an Iowa company that is under investigation for creating telemarketing lists used to fleece the elderly out of their life’s savings. He’s made millions from the company and has still not terminated his contract.
And his foundation has received $10 million from the Saudi government and millions from Dubai and other countries.
Do they expect something in exchange?
The first thing that Bill Clinton needs to do is release the names of every donor to his library. The voters have a right to know who is paying his bills.
Bill Clinton will definitely be a problem for a Hillary Clinton presidency. Remember when he was advising Dubai on how to get the Port Deal done while she was opposing the contract?
Look for lots more of that.
There’s no question that Bill Clinton’s recent public and private behavior have been extremely unbecoming for an ex-president and would be equally so for a co-president. And there’s no reason to think he’ll change.
At last night’s Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was bluntly asked what Bill Clinton would be like in a Hillary Clinton White House. Not surprisingly, she never really answered the question.
Hillary’s ignored the question and, instead, talked about how thrilled she is to have her husband campaigning for her, while insisting that but that she will be the president and the only one who makes decisions in the White House.
Even if were true that she made all of the final decisions, that would not stop Bill Clinton from stepping into the role of rogue co-president. He’s been trying out for the part for the past few months and has succeeded with flying colors.
The American presidency isn’t just about making decisions; it’s about setting examples, avoiding conflicts of interest, creating positive perceptions, unifying the electorate.
Those are not Bill’s strong points. His appalling conduct in South Carolina stunned even the strongest Clinton partisans.
Playing the race card was not something that anyone ever expected from Bill Clinton. But people underestimate Bill’s sense of purpose: He wants his wife elected president and he wants to be back in the White House. To rewrite his legacy, he’ll do anything.
And then once he gets there, he’ll be a rogue co-president who Hillary won’t even begin to be able to control.
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