Bill Clinton didn’t know once again!

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012

He didn’t know this either: We’ve always liked Bill Clinton around here. But last week, he made a weird claim about his ill-fated defense of Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital.

He spoke with Judy Woodruff on the NewsHour. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/7/12:
CLINTON (6/6/12): I didn't have any idea, when I was giving that answer [on CNN on May 31], that I was wading into some controversy in the campaign, because I haven't seen the ads, and I'm not following it, and I'm not really part of it. But you'd have to know about a specific case to know whether it was a good or a bad thing. But there are a lot of good people in that business doing good things. That's the point I was making.
Say what? Clinton made his off-message remarks on CNN on May 31. That was eleven days after Cory Booker touched off the “controversy” Clinton said he was unaware of.

That claim seemed a bit hard to believe. But one night later, Clinton made a second claim of ignorance which was hard to fathom. On this occasion, he spoke with Wolf Blitzer about another off-message remark he had made.

On this occasion, Clinton discussed the upcoming “fiscal cliff.” Once again, he seemed to be pleading ignorance:
BLITZER (6/7/12): You've caused a stir, as you know, by appearing to suggest that you would be open to temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts, even for the wealthiest Americans in that CNBC interview. You backed off of it a little bit later.
But where do you stand right now, if necessary, to keep the economy robust?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I don't think that's necessary to keep the economy robust. And what I was saying yesterday, which is apparently not accurate, is that if this fiscal cliff comes to the president and the Congress and the country before the election, he can't afford to give up his position—and he shouldn't—that we're going to have to have some new revenues to deal with this debt long-term and that we ought to begin by asking those of us in high income groups to pay taxes. I support that position. I always have.

And—but the Republicans may not feel they can afford to indirectly ratify it. So I was talking about whether they needed to put it off after the election and then—but they still have until the first of the year. Now, if they have until the first of the year, in any case to deal with this, there's no problem.

They both have their positions and they'll have to decide how to resolve it by the first of the year, but the election won't intervene.

And, therefore, I regret that all this stirring up is happening, because that's what I was thinking about. I was under the impression that something might have to be done before the election.
Say what? For many months, debate and discussion have swirled about the session of Congress which will occur after November’s election, the lame-duck session in which the issues of the “fiscal child” will have to be resolved.

Is it possible that Clinton thought there had to be a resolution before November’s election? Plainly, that seems to be what he told Blitzer. Could that really be true?

Around here, we’ve always liked Bill Clinton. These claims are very hard to believe. If those claims are actually true, something seems to be semi-wrong.

Is someone over-extended?

The way a professional does it: In yesterday's Washington Post, Dan Balz commented on Clinton's statement to Blitzer:
BALZ (6/10/12): Clinton claimed he didn't realize nothing had to be done about those tax cuts until the end of the year, an extraordinary comment by a politician who not that long ago said he spends at least an hour a day studying the economy and whose ability to absorb and synthesize vast quantities of information still makes him the party's best explainer in chief.
That was "an extraordinary comment," Balz pravdaistically said.


  1. Where's the "defense of Romney's work at Bain Capital" in any of Clinton's comments, Bob? You keep saying it, but it's just not there. You're as locked into a reading of a "gaffe" here as the laziest major-media pundit. You know, the kind of person whose work you profess to deplore.

  2. Bob was referring to the May 31 Piers Morgan show, where Clinton said Romney's record at Bain Capital was "good work" and Romney had a "sterling" business career.

    1. Clinton did not say Romney at Bain did good work. He said that some people in private equity do good work, so let's analyze it case by case rather than issuing blanket condemnations. I personally don't care about carefully distinguishing between good and bad investing; it's all a racket to me. But Clinton never defended Romney or Bain and his only praise was about his financial success, and his clarifying statements, quoted at the very beginning of Bob's very post, say precisely that.

  3. Clinton never defended Romney or Bain?

    From the article:

    "The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold."

    Clinton also went on to say that Romney's time at Bain Capital represented a "good business career."

    1. Just listen to the interview without having it prepackaged by what reporters want you to think it says. It's obvious his point is that Romney has been successful in business but that that has little to do with how good a president he'd be, and, on top of that, that he doesn't want to smear everyone in private equity but rather to sift out the good cases from the bad. It's plain as day, and don't let the idiots and assfaces in the media or the lazy people who accept their misinterpretations filter easily comprehensible remarks for you.

    2. And even the first "ignorance" remark Bob presents above seems to me at least to mean that Clinton doesn't think he knows enough about the particular plant closings in the ads in question to be able to say with confidence whether they were examples of Bain behaving badly or not. Which is why instead he talked about a different topic, to wit, whether "private equity" is inherently awful, and his conclusion was, unsurprisingly, that it probably was more something you'd have to determine on a case by case basis than to condemn across the board.

      I know Bob wants Clinton to have said something like "The issue is that Romney's involvement in Bain's investing in GST Steel led to not only the closing of the plant but the looting of the employee pension fund, looting looting looting. Also, looting, and did I mention, it rhymes with rooting, looting.". But he continues to represent Clinton's remarks as support for Romney at Bain, not as a poorly delivered semi-defense of the many good people who do equity investing while pleading ignorance about the specific case of Romney at Bain.

      Clobber Clinton all you like. But attentive discussion of language is, or used to be, Bob's stock in trade, and he's running roughshod over that whole area in his zeal to make a point he thinks is better than the one he could easily make without misrepresentations.

  4. How long until we go from "we've always liked Bill Clinton around here" to "Bill Clinton is being a troll"?

    Bill Clinton is one of the world's smartest people. Smartest, most intelligent, and savviest. It's weird that he would say things "by accident."

  5. Is it my imagination, of has Bill Clinton in these recent episodes seemed tired, weary, faded, older than his 65 years? Of course whenever these smarter-than-humanly-possible-3000 IQ types like Clinton and Obama slip and say or do something seemingly ill-advised or plain dumb, there's always something ready to explain that the old foxes have something wonderful up their sleeves and that this is merely further proof of their godlike powers.

    On the other hand, Clinton is plainly setting up Obama to lose to better position Hillary for 2016, so he can spend his 70s as proxy President.

  6. The whole thing could be simple sleep deprivation. After all, Obama and Clinton are working hard and traveling a lot.

    There was an incident in Bristol, VA, when Obama was talking about preventive medicine and lost his train of thought. He had been campaigning for 18 months, and had little sleep in the previous 24 hours.
    Republicans held that up as absolute proof that Obama could not frame a coherent sentence unless he was reading a teleprompter.

    Romney has made many dumb statements, but his campaign "exploratory" started in April, 2011. A tired man can utter a lot of bloopers over 14 months.

    And then there's George W.