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Gaffes for Everybody

Jeff Danziger   |   June 12, 2012   10:12 AM ET


Bill Clinton, Won't You Please Come Home?

Sherman Yellen   |   June 7, 2012    3:00 PM ET

I've always been a big fan of Bill Clinton, even when Bill made that real hard for me. When he was president I watched him adopt some Republican positions like the destruction of welfare for poor families -- they called it reform, I called it cruelty to small children -- all in the name of political expediency. And I watched him lie, sweat and wiggle his way out of his Monica Lewinsky scandal. I was outraged less by his horn dog, bad boy behavior than by the fact that personal sexual behavior could become the source of a politically driven impeachment, and do lasting harm to the decent programs he wanted to institute for the future.

In this case the anti-Clinton attack was led by a pack of Republican hypocrites, some of whom were secret or known adulterers who had seized on Clinton's lie about "sex with that woman" to bring him down. But thinking back, I enjoyed Clinton as a president who on balance tried to do more good than harm, despite his failings in judgment, and mine. You couldn't help but like the man.

I applauded his great support of Hillary during her presidential candidacy: it seemed real, not the paying off of a marital debt but a true belief in her great talents. And somehow all that affable Clinton stuff has to be enjoyed. By moving his office to Harlem he managed to convince the black community that he was their best friend, and by palling around with Bush the elder he managed to convince many Republicans that he was a good fellow after all, one who was able to see the best in a political foe, and wink, wink, still make deals when necessary. And by smiling his way through the past several years -- difficult years for so many Clinton supporters -- he warmed more hearts than mine. Good cheer is in short supply in this country these days, and the purveyor of it deserves our thanks.

I did have one difficult time with Clinton. I happened to attend a memorial service for an old college friend of mine a few years ago. My friend was a famous and accomplished man, one who had as a sideline offered his political writing talent to help Clinton, and now in this memorial service, Clinton was repaying that debt.

I watched Clinton praise this former friend of mine -- someone I knew since long ago college days: praise him for his sterling character, his generosity, his gifts to humanity. And I knew the man he praised was a liar, a cheat, a bully, a coward and what the great humorist PG Wodehouse might have called "a blot on the landscape." It was an opinion shared by most who had trusted or befriended this man during his lifetime.

Clinton was so charming in his praise for this man, so sincere in his speech, that I almost forgot the true character of the subject and settled on being amazed by Clinton's rhetorical power. Clinton did "sincere" better than anyone I had ever known. But I knew that the character of the deceased would have been obvious to anyone who was not dazzled by professional success, because that man's character was not in hiding. The man had a skill for social climbing that was amazing to behold, acts and words designed to raise him high in the pecking order of the world while pushing others down a rung or two. I suspect that Clinton saw in him a kindred spirit, one who would do or say anything to achieve his goals, conflating his own ambitions with the good of the world, and like Clinton he was a master of his art.

I don't name the man here because this isn't about him but about Clinton, who is so perceptive that he must have seen these flaws but chose to disregard them because it was to his advantage to do so.

This all comes down to Clinton's recent defense of Romney's years at Bain Capital, a gratuitous offering of support to Romney clearly designed to injure the Obama campaign, despite his denials. It is, I fear, another instance of "I did not have sex with that woman." I don't for a moment believe that Clinton thinks that Bain was the model of beneficent capitalism, or that he shares the Republican notion of trickle down prosperity, which has time and again been proven a total failure. I could not help but see it as an opening for Bill Clinton to make friends with the Republicans and help to set up Hillary for big donors when she runs for president -- and she will -- in 2016, particularly after what will probably be a disastrous Romney presidency should Romney be elected.

What was Bill thinking when he stepped out to criticize the Obama campaign and praise Romney? He surely wasn't thinking about the Congress, the courts and the presidency as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers and their friends once Romney is elected. Was he thinking about the suppression of minority voting rights, or the repression of women's rights, those of his daughter and my young granddaughters that will come with a Romney presidency, or the total destruction of the trade unions, with the disparity between the uber-rich and the under-employed majority so great that it will take generations to remedy that destruction of American life?

No, he was thinking, "Here I am, Bill Clinton, charmer of the world, and I better grab the spotlight from a struggling president and save the future for myself." If he continues to carry on that way, it will be a long journey home for him with nobody smiling and cheering.

BRADLEY KLAPPER   |   June 2, 2012   12:00 PM ET

TROMSO, Norway -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday ventured north of the Arctic Circle and urged international cooperation in a region that could become a new battleground for natural resources.

On her trip to the northern Norwegian city of Tromso, she conveyed that message of working together in one of the world's last frontiers of unexplored oil, gas and mineral deposits. The region is becoming more significant as melting icecaps accelerate the opening of new shipping routes, fishing stocks and drilling opportunities.

Nick Wing   |   May 24, 2012   12:16 PM ET

Former President Bill Clinton might be having a good time abroad this week, but that sentiment is certainly not being shared by everyone in his presence.

Attendees of a Clinton Foundation Millennium Network fundraiser held Tuesday at the Old Vic Tunnels in London had serious complaints about the event, with one person giving it the highest dishonor of "worst party ever."

According to the Daily Telegraph, hundreds of ticket-holders who had paid between around $200 and $1,500 to rub elbows with celebrities and hear Clinton speak about climate change were forced to wait outside for hours.

High-profile guests such as actress Gwyneth Paltrow, model Lily Cole, entertainer Will.I.Am and Princess Beatrice of York weren't among those asked to wait.

When the party-goers finally did get inside the converted railway tunnel venue, the scene wasn't much better.

"We arrived, there was perspiration dripping off the walls and the place absolutely stank. It was like walking into a cave," a source told the Telegraph. "Bill Clinton only spoke for about two minutes and was basically inaudible. He was at the end of a very long, very crowded room and the acoustics were terrible."

Author Marie Phillips sent out a tweet, also picked up by the Telegraph:

That was one of her nicer tweets.

Read more from the Telegraph here.

PHOTOS: Chelsea Clinton Parties With Princess Beatrice

Ellie Krupnick   |   May 23, 2012    7:11 AM ET

Well here's two people we never dreamed we'd see together: Chelsea Clinton and Princess Beatrice.

Not that we didn't hope. We love when royals and celebs cross paths (see: the Beckhams at the royal wedding, everyone Queen Elizabeth II has ever met). But we were surprised to see Chelsea in London, where she attended A Night Out With The Millennium Network co-hosted by The Clinton Foundation.

Princess Beatrice was just one of the famous faces in attendance, as Gwyneth Paltrow, and Lily Cole also turned out to show their support.

But we're loving the juxtaposition of these two royals, real and political. It never occurred to us how much they have in common: both grew up in the spotlight but have carved out their own low-key, subdued styles (Bea's royal wedding hat notwithstanding). For Tuesday's event, Chelsea was the sexier of the two in a purple cowl-neck minidress, while the princess opted for black head-to-toe. But both stuck with their typical solid colors and flattering shapes.

Below, see Chelsea and Princess Beatrice united in London.


chelsea clinton princess beatrice

chelsea clinton princess beatrice

See Chelsea Clinton's style evolution!

  |   May 18, 2012    9:43 AM ET

Bill Clinton is abandoning his old ally Charles Rangel, who is fighting for his political life as he seeks re-election to a 22nd term, The Post has learned.

Harlem Rep. Rangel won’t be getting an endorsement from the former president, who will sit out the primary, a Clinton source said.

White House Outreach to HBCUs is Clear; Will Public Support Follow in 2012?

Jarrett L. Carter   |   May 17, 2012    5:24 PM ET

First Lady Michelle Obama gave rousing keynote remarks at North Carolina A&T State University's commencement exercises last weekend, marking the third consecutive year she has keynoted an HBCU commencement and four overall for the First Family, counting her husband's 2010 appearance at Hampton University.

Coupling those appearances with those of key administrators like Arne Duncan at this year's Howard University commencement and Valerie Jarrett's appearance at Morgan State University two years ago, it's clear that the White House acknowledges the value and political clout of the HBCU community.

It's a very savvy move by a very savvy administration; be around your family without giving the appearance of being only about your family. The Obama administration has quietly worked to address some pressing needs of the HBCU community, while stopping short of the president wearing a Hillman College sweatshirt to his weekly press briefings. Support of Pell Grants, an executive order to increase federal agency appropriations to HBCUs, and a general willingness to speak the sacred four letters in spots of careful choosing and in select company.

We've appreciated his quiet work, and in return, the HBCU community will again likely serve as an active red-state stronghold in his bid for reelection this year. A second and final term for President Obama is the one many are betting will produce a golden age of reform in employment and educational access for black people. And if not that, at the very least, a public acknowledgment that black folks are uniquely suffering and deserve federal attention to solve what years of racism and discrimination have yielded.

And if there is to be a public acknowledgment of how black people have been doubly disadvantaged by segregation and desegregation alike, there is no better example deserving support than historically black colleges and universities. Debate on subsidized housing and healthcare is healthy. Debate on equitable opportunities at higher education is not healthy, and no other institution is as structurally or culturally prepared to meet America's demand for an increase in educated professionals and innovators than HBCUs.

More money for capital improvements, research development and programmatic enhancement is needed, and that need has been in place for generations. The White House recognizes the disadvantage at which HBCUs have operated practically since their inception, and has covertly, from a media perspective, worked to right the wrong. Even when key liaisons between the White House and HBCUs have wrongly attributed HBCU struggles solely to administrative incompetence, sensible members of the White House Board of Advisors on HBCUs have dutifully and sternly reminded that a culture long-suffering from the "more with less" burden of leadership doesn't change over night, and the changing, ravaging demand of global economics makes the job that much more difficult for even the most keen and invested HBCU executive.

All in the HBCU circle of influence recognize that the championing for resources begins at home, and so there's no reasonable expectation for the White House to reward what HBCU alumni and corporate communities, at large, have not. But what is expected of the Obama administration and key members of the executive cabinet is a consistent, public declaration about the need for HBCUs and the national benefit for the American public and private sector to invest in their success.

The Obama administration has been on the record for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. It has been on the record for dignified and responsible measures on immigration reform and has acted in saving the financial interest of corporations intricately tethered to the economy of the nation and the world. HBCUs are intricately tied to solving a multitude of issues plaguing the black community; from entrepreneurial development, civil service, improving secondary education, public health awareness, and diversifying the fields of science and technology, HBCUs literally are a catalyst for saving and improving lives for Americans across the nation.

The White House knows what HBCUs are all about. President Obama has public declared a personal partnership with these institutions. The wheels have begun turning to engage HBCUs on the second time around for change in Washington, and if HBCU support helps them turn in favor of a second term, there's a reasonable expectation for the administration to take a stronger, more public position for HBCU support and expansion.

A position not relegated to HBCU commencement ceremonies.

Nick Wing   |   May 14, 2012   12:25 PM ET

Hank Crumpton, a former CIA officer and top counterterrorism official, said in a recent interview that President Bill Clinton's White House missed a golden opportunity to take out terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in 1999.

Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in 1999, Crumpton told CBS's "60 Minutes" in a segment that aired on Sunday. His convoy had been clearly identified by an early edition Predator drone, which at the time didn't have weapons capabilities.

"We saw a security detail, a convoy, and we saw bin Laden exit the vehicle, clearly," Crumpton told CBS's Lara Logan, describing aerial images captured by a drone flying somewhere outside of Kandahar. "The optics were spot in, it was beaming back to us, CIA headquarters. We immediately alerted the White House, and the Clinton administration’s response was, ‘Well, it will take several hours for the TLAMs, the cruise missiles launched from submarines, to reach that objective. So, you need to tell us where bin Laden will be five or six hours from now.' The frustration was enormous."

The administration also denied the CIA's request to engage their on-ground forces, Crumpton said, which could have acted more quickly. The missed opportunity led the CIA to speed the process of arming the unmanned drones with Hellfire missiles, so that they could act more swiftly if they found bin Laden again. U.S. forces have since come to rely heavily on unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out strikes on targets in hostile territory, much to the disapproval of some human rights groups.

Clinton has been criticized for a supposed failure to seize opportunities to kill bin Laden on multiple occasions. A 9/11 commission report, which brought the original release of the drone footage that Crumpton is referring to, led to accusations from Clinton's opponents that he had neglected to act despite a wealth of convincing intelligence.

Crumpton's interview comes as his book, "The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service," hits the bookshelves. It focuses on the CIA's response to 9/11 and the rapid implementation of covert operations on the ground in Afghanistan. Read advance excerpts at the Daily Beast.

Clinton Chides 'Separatists' In Washington For Alleging 'Secret Plan'

Luke Johnson   |   May 3, 2012   11:06 AM ET

By Ronald Grover

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.--U.S. and European politicians are squabbling over austerity measures to resolve deep-seated economic problems, but instead need to set aside entrenched views and take a longer-term approach to find real solutions, former President Bill Clinton told a financial conference.

In Europe, the key to battling its economic malaise is in taking the long view: promoting growth instead of a current plan to pare debt by cutting spending and raising taxes, Clinton told the Milken Institute Global Conference.

"The prescription of austerity continues to be pushed in the face of evidence that it won't work," said the president who held office before George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He called on leaders in both Europe and the United States to work on a strategy "of what would work in a five-year period, a 10-year period, instead of three or six months."

U.S. politicians similarly are hunkering down in ideological positions to either cut spending or tax high-wealth individuals, neither of which "has a chance of working without creating jobs."

"We're about to have a presidential race and 70 percent of what Americans will hear won't make a lick of sense as a strategy for what can actually be done to make a difference," he said.

Clinton, whose foundation works in foreign countries on health, environmental and other issues, compared the current U.S. political impasse to two meetings he attended in Brazil on whether to continue destroying the rain forest or promote alternative energy use.

"Not one person screamed at another, no one called each other names," he said. "They recognized that no one is perfect but that these were all highly intelligent individuals who had come together to solve a problem."

He chided what he called "separatists" in Washington who see government involvement in any program as "a secret plan by government to take away something from them."

"They've confused liberals and conservatives with communitarians and separatists," said Clinton, who said Silicon Valley is again creating new jobs because of what he called "creative networks of cooperation" dedicating to solving shared problems.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

  |   April 30, 2012    2:32 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- The National Park Foundation says two former presidents and the Speaker of the U.S. House will host a fundraiser in Washington for the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The foundation said Monday that former President Bill Clinton, former President George W. Bush and House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) will host the benefit on May 15. The bipartisan event aims to secure funding for the complete memorial, including a learning center and a Tower of Voices containing 40 large wind chimes.

  |   April 28, 2012    3:33 PM ET

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton will join President Barack Obama on Sunday to raise money for the Democrat's re-election campaign, the first time the two U.S. political heavyweights have campaigned together in 2012.

Obama and Clinton have had a sometimes strained relationship since the former Illinois senator beat the former president's wife Hillary Clinton, now secretary of State, for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The former president remains very popular with Democratic supporters, however, and Obama's campaign is eager to get his fundraising support for the 2012 election.

The two men will appear together at a fundraising reception and then a dinner, both hosted by Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons. Five hundred people will attend the reception, with tickets starting at $1,000, and 80 are to attend the dinner, for which tickets cost $20,000, the official said.

The money will go to a joint fund to support Obama's re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

Clinton's profile in the Obama campaign appears to be rising. On Friday, the campaign released a video of Clinton praising Obama for his decision to approve the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. (Reporting By Jeff Mason; editing by Todd Eastham)

Paige Lavender   |   April 21, 2012   11:44 AM ET

Despite photos showing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drinking and dancing in Colombia, Madeleine Albright -- the first female Secretary of State -- said the job is no party.

“I don’t know whether you’d call what she’s doing fun,” Albright told Politico.

"The truth is that you would never believe this -- the things that one does as secretary state," Albright said. "I sang at meetings at the ASEAN regional forum, or played musical instruments. ... And we all have our own definition of fun."

Clinton accompanied Obama to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas. During his visit, Obama put major focus on the economy, the top issue for voters ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Clinton's night out at the Cafe Havana wasn't the only event making headlines from Colombia. A prostitution scandal involving Secret Service members overshadowed Obama's visit, with several employees resigning in the week that followed.

PHOTO: Hillary Clinton Drinking

Alana Horowitz   |   April 15, 2012   12:25 PM ET

Hillary Clinton took a break from texting Mark Zuckerberg to have a drink with colleagues at a Colombian bar.

Clinton has been in Cartagena, Colombia to attend the Summit of the Americas.

Check out a photo of Clinton below.

You're on Your Own, Kids

Robert Scheer   |   April 12, 2012    4:45 AM ET

Who will speak for the rights of the unborn now that Rick Santorum is gone from the race? Let me give it a whirl from the perspective of one whose own unwed mother had several abortions before yours truly was permitted to emerge.

My arrival came during the U.S. economy's previous great crash, back in 1936. My father, who was already supporting an earlier family with two teenage children, had every intention of providing well for me, but he was laid off that very day and informed my mother of the unhappy fact within moments of setting eyes on me in a Bronx hospital. My father held on to part-time jobs in garment industry sweatshops (where my mother, too, worked), but it would be four years before he had a full-time paycheck again. He stood by both families during that dark period, seizing every opportunity to work, mostly in government-sponsored employment. And yes, we lived in part on government welfare -- or home relief, as it was then called. All of which made President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the New Deal he fashioned to save tens of millions of impoverished folks just like us throughout the country, objects of veneration.

So why am I bringing all this ancient history up now? Because I was dumbfounded by a headline Saturday in the New York Times that reminded me of how far we have gone wrong: "Welfare Limits Left Poor Adrift as Recession Hit." And by "we," I mean not only the heartless Republicans who love the fetus and then shun the child, but also the "progressives" who dare not use the word "liberal" because concern for the poor conflicts with the opportunism that defines their politics.

The death of American liberalism as a significant moral force can be traced to the point in 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed legislation that effectively ended the main federal anti-poverty program and turned the fate of welfare recipients, 70 percent of whom were children, over to the tender mercies of the states. With a stroke of the pen, Clinton eliminated what remained of New Deal-era compassion for the poor and codified into law the "tough love" callousness that his Republican allies in the Congress, led by Newt Gingrich, had long embraced.

The ensuing wave of state-imposed eligibility restrictions was designed to replace the war on poverty with a war on welfare recipients, with the result that in this time of economic crisis the poor have nowhere to turn. It also allowed states to play in a meanness derby, cutting the welfare rolls and forcing many of the desperate to cross state lines to locales where they might survive. "My take on it was the states would push people off [the assistance lists] and not let them back on, and that's just what they did," said Peter B. Edelman, who resigned from the Clinton administration over this issue and who told the Times for the recent article, "It's been even worse than I thought it would be."

Edelman, now a law professor at Georgetown University, was a close friend of the Clintons. His principled resignation was a rare exception to the cheerleading by Democrats who celebrated President Clinton's betrayal of the poor as shrewd triangulation. Clinton himself had to be fully aware of the depth of that betrayal because he had governed one of the poorest states. In an interview I did with him for the Los Angeles Times when he was still the governor of Arkansas, he was very clear on two points concerning socially responsible welfare reform: It required federal standards, and it would cost more money because the well-being of children was at stake. "To do it, you need more money ... for education, training, transportation, and child care."

Calling the shots on spending for the most vulnerable since the Clinton revisions went into effect, the states have diverted funds for the poor to filling other holes in state budgets. Consequently, as the New York Times piece noted last week, "Just one in five poor children now receive cash aid, the lowest level in nearly 50 years."

The response of the right-to-life Republicans has been typical -- indifference to the fate of the fetus once it's born. Paul Ryan, House budget leader and rumored to be Mitt Romney's pick for vice president, judges the current welfare program "an unprecedented success," and Romney himself wants to extend the welfare-cut model to "all these federal programs," including Medicaid and food stamps.

During his campaign, Santorum, who on Tuesday dropped out as the standard-bearer for pro-life family values, turned to Clinton's draconian welfare law as a source of deep spiritual guidance: "It didn't just cut the rolls, but it saved lives" and granted the poor "something dependency doesn't give: hope."

Well, glory be, hope is on the rise. A recent and well-documented Indiana University study concludes that the number of Americans living beneath the poverty line has risen 27 percent during the recession, leaving 46 million former fetuses living large on a new hope diet.