How Much Do Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton Despise Barack Obama?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 1 2013 6:18 PM

How Much Do Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton Despise Barack Obama?

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Former President Carter, speaking here on Aug. 28, 2013, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, does his eulogizingat the Lincoln Memorial, and his dissing in Parade magazine.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

It's at the end of a week like this that I regret canceling my old roundup blog posts, which pointed readers to all the interesting developments that I wasn't on top of. Briefly:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

- Local news sites are picking up the slack on reporting the sudden cut in food stamps, brought about by a 2010 Democratic budget gimmick then compounded by the lack of congressional action since.

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In the word of fake political news, which I cover more closely, we are told that the living former Democratic presidents are distancing themselves from the current Democratic president. Parade magazine sat down with Jimmy Carter and, in anticipation of the full article's release, led with Carter sounding dismissive of Barack Obama.

He’s done the best he could under the circumstances. His major accomplishment was Obamacare, and the implementation of it now is questionable at best.”

Let's see the full interview, because in the past Carter's been one of the Democrats readiest (as he's least in danger of "losing" anything) to call the president's hobblers a bunch of racists. The jury's still out, which is more than can be said about the Clintons. In this narrative-generatin' piece from the trail in Virginia, Phil Rucker asked whether the former president and (barring a few problems) future president were "implicitly" criticizing the Obama presidency as they stumped.

“When people sneeringly say, ‘McAuliffe is a dealmaker,’ I say, ‘Oh, if we only had one in Washington during that shutdown,’ ” the former president said at a rally here in Norfolk on Monday. “It’s exhausting seeing politicians waste time with all these arguments. It is exhausting. People deserve somebody who will get this show on the road." ... “We are careening from crisis to crisis instead of having a plan, bringing people to that plan, focusing on common-sense solutions and being relentless in driving toward them,” [Hillary] Clinton said last week during at a Center for American Progress gala.
Neither Clinton has brought up Obama directly in their remarks or explicitly criticized his leadership. Still, the Clintons’ general critiques carry echoes of the charges Republicans have frequently leveled against the current president: that Obama doesn’t respect their ideas and resists any compromise with them.

It does echo that, but in the fuller remarks it's clear that the Clintons are entirely blaming Republicans for these failures of leadership and compromise. When I saw Bill Clinton stump in Northern Virginia, it seemed more striking that he spent half his time combing through dire economic news for "the middle class," and references to his presidency.

"You have to change the job mix," he said at one point. "One of the things I'm proudest of is the only time since the mid-'70s when each 20th percentile of our economy increased their incomes almost identically was in the last six years I served."

Some of this was deployed in the 2012 campaign, too. Democrats asked voters to consider, in general, how 12 years of Clinton and Obama felt, not just how the four years of the latter were settling. Hillary Clinton can't even try to avoid that if she runs. To a small degree, it's "dissing" Obama, but he'll just have to put up with it.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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