January 10, 2005


Presidents: Bubba and Dubya—Warming Up (Richard Wolffe, Tamara Lipper and Eleanor Clift, Jan. 8, 2005, Newsweek)

For two men at opposite ends of the political spectrum, the relationship between the 43rd and 42nd presidents has grown surprisingly warm and personal over the last six months. Clinton endorsed Bush's approach to the tsunami catastrophe, defending him against criticism about his initial response as well as raising cash alongside the president's father. Friends and aides say the two men enjoy each other's company and, as fellow pros, respect each other's political talents.

The rapid thaw started with the unveiling of Clinton's official portrait in the White House in June, when Bush told his speechwriters he wanted to deliver something "very praiseworthy, warm, funny and short." During Clinton's recent health crisis, Bush called twice to share what one of the former president's aides called "good, funny conversations." And in November, at the opening of Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., both the president and his father delivered praise that Clinton reveled in. Clinton even pulled aside Karl Rove, the architect of Bush's election success, to congratulate him.

Beyond each side's nutters, who can be surprised by this? For one thing, Bill Clinton appreciates political artistry, which 43 has in spades; for another, W is the president Mr. Clinton set out to be; and third, it's a dirty GOP secret that President Reagan liked Bill Clinton too. Finally, you had to know that Mr. Clinton was a Bushie when he faked his own death to avoid campaigning for John Kerry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 10, 2005 10:58 AM

Presidents and ex-presidents always get along. After all, no one else knows what troubles they've seen, and they all benefited from this tradition in turn.

It would take a particularly ungratefull, crabbed, incompetent, inhuman, corrupt, stupid, tyranophilic, egotististical, bitter waste of carbon not to fall into line.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 10, 2005 11:24 AM

You mean like Carter?

Posted by: Bret at January 10, 2005 11:29 AM

Clinton's also smart enough to know that his wife's chances of winning a general election in 2008 depend on staying politically as close to GWB as is viable to not totally alienate the Democratic primary voters. That means both he and the missus will be playing a "good cop-bad cop" strategy with the electorate for the next 3 1/2 years, and playing "bad cop" on the issue of tsunami releif would be moronic (which also explains while some of the other Democratic leaders and constituents are doing it).

Posted by: John at January 10, 2005 11:37 AM

FDR hated our best ex-president, Herbert Hoover.

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2005 12:07 PM

Evidently Ike and Harry Truman despised each other as well.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 10, 2005 1:54 PM

Won't the secretary-generalship effectively disqualify Hillary from the presidency. If fears of instruction from the vatican almost beat JFK, won't fear from dictates from a hubby leading the UN destroy HRC.

Bubba for SecGen!

Posted by: Jim at January 10, 2005 5:42 PM

Our best ex-President was Ford. At least he had the decency to go back and be the non-entity he always was.

As for Clinton, he smells money or renewed power and limelight here. It makes me think less of Bush that he would try to pander to this slimeball. But then Old Bush was worse.

Posted by: Bart at January 11, 2005 6:49 AM


Pandering and co-opting (to be blunt) are two very different things.

And remember, Clinton would be much less visible if (when) a Democrat is in the White House. Bush can afford to be 'gracious' - Kerry or any future Democratic President (including Hillary) cannot.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 11, 2005 11:45 AM