Bill Clinton Comes Bearing Advice

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 9 2011 1:53 PM

Bill Clinton Comes Bearing Advice

My new piece comes after a quick devouring of Bill Clinton's new book Back to Work. It's passable, as these things go, unless you're a huge fan of numbered lists or something. But what capitivated me about it was Clinton's re-draft of the last three years, and his ideas for how Democrats could have saved themselves. It's odd; with some tweaks, it's a bunch of stuff they tried, and stuff he'd told them to try.

A good companion to this is Joe Conason's sympathetic interview with the 42nd president. (Sean Hannity aside, you often get the best stuff from sympathetic interviewers.) Clinton, in making his critique, misunderstood the clout that Republicans had.

Although early news accounts of "Back To Work" emphasized Clinton's mild criticisms of the Obama administration, he said that section of the book includes an error. Having written that the president and congressional Democrats should have sought a debt limit increase long before last summer's crisis, because they could have done so without facing Republican obstruction, he has since learned the debt ceiling is subject to a filibuster -- and that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell threatened to do so when the Democrats tried to lift the ceiling in 2010.
Obama couldn't risk the consequences of calling the Republican bluff on the debt ceiling, said Clinton, as he did when they confronted him in the 1990s.
Advertisement

This stuff is difficult, even if you're a former president who lived through something that looked awfully similar.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 24 2014 8:19 AM Online Misogyny Levels Up as Gamergate Targets Gawker
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 24 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.