CLIN­TON

The Washington Times Daily - - Pol­i­tics -

Clin­ton’s re­marks on Oba­macare. He said the pres­i­dent even­tu­ally took Mr. Clin­ton’s ad­vice by al­low­ing some in­sur­ers to con­tinue of­fer­ing, for one year, health care plans that don’t meet stan­dards un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Mr. Clin­ton left of­fice in 2001, but his shadow looms large over Mr. Obama’s pres­i­dency. The for­mer pres­i­dent is more pop­u­lar than Mr. Obama, whose job ap­proval rat­ing is plum­met­ing in his sec­ond term.

The fric­tion be­tween the pres­i­dent and Mr. Clin­ton goes back to at least 2007, when Mr. Obama was run­ning against Mrs. Clin­ton for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. Mr. Clin­ton ac­cused Mr. Obama of em­bel­lish­ing his op­po­si­tion to the Iraq War, call­ing it “the big­gest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”

That was the same pri­mary in which Mr. Obama coolly de­scribed Mrs. Clin­ton dur­ing a de­bate as “lik­able enough.”

Mrs. Clin­ton served as sec­re­tary of state in Mr. Obama’s first term and, by most ac­counts, the two worked well to­gether. But the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Mr. Obama and her hus­band has re­mained prickly at times.

When the two men got to­gether for a round of golf at An­drews Air Force Base in Septem­ber 2011, they didn’t fin­ish the 18 holes, ac­cord­ing to an ac­count in the book “Dou­ble Down: Game Change 2012,” by Mark Halperin and John Heile­mann. Mr. Obama re­port­edly grew an­noyed that Mr. Clin­ton talked too much and didn’t take the game se­ri­ously, tak­ing nu­mer­ous “mul­li­gans,” or sec­ond shots with­out a penalty.

“I like him … in doses,” Mr. Obama told an aide after walk­ing off the course.

The pres­i­dent is said to seek com­pan­ions for vis­its with Mr. Clin­ton, rather than spend time alone with him.

But Mr. Obama rec­og­nized that he needed Mr. Clin­ton for his re-elec­tion cam­paign last year be­cause the for­mer pres­i­dent ex­cels at ex­plain­ing com­pli­cated sub­jects, such as the econ­omy and health care, to large au­di­ences.

Thus he called on his “sec­re­tary of ex­plain­ing stuff ” sev­eral times at cam­paign ral­lies and fundrais­ers, a role Mr. Clin­ton clearly en­joyed. Mr. Clin­ton gave a rous­ing speech at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion that many con­sid­ered bet­ter than Mr. Obama’s ac­cep­tance speech.

The pres­i­dent couldn’t al­ways count on Mr. Clin­ton to stay on script dur­ing the cam­paign.

In May 2012, Mr. Clin­ton said in an in­ter­view that Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney had a “ster­ling” busi­ness record, just as the Obama cam­paign was un­leash­ing its cru­cial strat­egy of defin­ing Mr. Rom­ney as a heart­less cor­po­rate raider.

In June 2011, Mr. Clin­ton an­gered the White House by pen­ning a cover story in Newsweek mag­a­zine that of­fered his pre­scrip­tions for fix­ing the ail­ing econ­omy, pro­vid­ing a re­minder that 14 mil­lion Amer­i­cans were out of work.

This June, while Mr. Obama was grap­pling with the ques­tion of whether to at­tack Syria, Mr. Clin­ton told a pri­vate gath­er­ing that it would be un­wise for the pres­i­dent to de­cide against mil­i­tary ac­tion sim­ply be­cause the public was op­posed.

“You’d look like a to­tal wuss,” Mr. Clin­ton said, “and you would be.” His com­ments leaked quickly.

Mr. Obama ul­ti­mately de­cided against mil­i­tary ac­tion and in fa­vor of a deal bro­kered by Rus­sia to con­fis­cate Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons.

Mr. Clin­ton also down­played Mr. Obama’s early vic­tory in the South Carolina pri­mary, say­ing Jesse Jack­son had won the state twice but ul­ti­mately lost the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. Some Obama sup­port­ers, many of whom once praised Mr. Clin­ton as the “first black pres­i­dent,” ac­cused him of racism.

The Demo­cratic oper­a­tive said many in his party find it hard to be­lieve the oc­ca­sional prob­lems that Mr. Clin­ton cre­ates for Mr. Obama are ac­ci­den­tal.

“If you ac­cept the premise that [Mr. Clin­ton is] the smartest politi­cian around, that he sees moves on the chess board that no one else can see, the ques­tion is, does he do it on pur­pose?” the Demo­crat said.

Although Mr. Clin­ton is one of only two pres­i­dents in his­tory to be im­peached (for per­jury and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice re­lated to Paula Jones’ sex­ual ha­rass­ment law­suit), he is more pop­u­lar in polls than Mr. Obama.

A Gallup poll this month had 55 per­cent of Amer­i­cans ret­ro­spec­tively giv­ing Mr. Clin­ton an “out­stand­ing” or “above av­er­age” job ap­proval rat­ing, third among mod­ern pres­i­dents be­hind John F. Kennedy and Ronald Rea­gan. The same sur­vey had Mr. Obama get­ting such rat­ings from 28 per­cent of re­spon­dents; sev­eral other polls show that Mr. Obama’s job ap­proval score this month has fallen to around 40 per­cent.

While the public’s opin­ion of a pres­i­dent of­ten im­proves after he leaves of­fice, only 15 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have a “poor” opin­ion of Mr. Clin­ton, Gallup said. Forty per­cent have a poor opin­ion of Mr. Obama.

Mr. Davis said Mr. Clin­ton “has be­come a tran­scen­dent global leader in a way that no other for­mer pres­i­dent has ever ap­proached.”

“The Medal of Free­dom, in a way, un­der­states the im­pact that he and his foun­da­tion have had around the globe, and it’s much de­served,” he said.

Among the other Medal of Free­dom re­cip­i­ents will be me­dia mogul Oprah Win­frey, coun­try mu­sic le­gend Loretta Lynn, for­mer Wash­ing­ton Post ed­i­tor Ben Bradlee, for­mer Chicago Cubs base­ball player Ernie Banks, re­tired Sen. Richard G. Lu­gar of In­di­ana, fem­i­nist Glo­ria Steinem, for­mer Univer­sity of North Carolina bas­ket­ball coach Dean Smith, and a post­hu­mous award to as­tro­naut Sally Ride.

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