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Bill Clinton’s Disappointing Exodus

DENVER–The world was his stage again. Sixteen years after William Jefferson Clinton accepted the nomination of his party, he stood here tonight before an audience he fully expected would be nominating his wife as the Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States. Instead, he was here, admittedly, warming up the crowd for the party’s vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.

He had one hell of an act to follow. The previous night, with full-throated authority, his wife delivered perhaps the most memorable speech by a runner-up for a party’s presidential nomination since Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1980. In many ways, her speech embodied the conviction and passion she had earned among the millions who voted for her during the primary campaign. Speaking to a following of her own–not her husband’s–Hillary Clinton did everything that could have been asked of her and more. One could feel the Pepsi Center shake with the idea of a party whose sole conflict had nothing to do with the platform but about a personal preference between two people come together.

Not so tonight. As I noted in an earlier post, one could not forget all the statements Bill Clinton had made against Obama during the primaries. There was too much bitterness, too many slights. While his wife had long ago publicly made peace with her loss, the former president seemed to take a shot across the bow when he gave a tepid response when asked whether Obama was ready to be president by a television reporter,

Indeed, as Clinton looked out to the audience, one couldn’t help but feel he was asking himself, what had happened? How had a party that showed him such great love during his presidency and the years after come to not follow what he had asked of them? What had he done?

Stepping off the stage, Clinton did so no longer as the party’s great champion. He had ceded that role through his own pettiness and outward hostility. Now it was time to go.

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