- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Bubba is back. After lying low during President Obama’s first year in order to reassure the worrywarts (like his wife) that he wouldn’t cause a ruckus or be an attention hog, former President Bill Clinton is back on the scene. He parachuted into the Massachusetts Senate race to campaign for the hapless Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley and joined forces with former President George W. Bush to coordinate aid for earthquake-shattered Haiti.

But two weeks ago, Mr. Clinton also did something else: He attended a hastily arranged private tete-a-tete with Mr. Obama.

No good can come of this.

For Mr. Clinton to visit his old stomping grounds and schmooz with Mr. Obama can only spell disaster. After shooting the breeze about the fickleness of the American people, they probably discussed health care reform and terrorism, which is why no good can come of this meeting.

In all likelihood, Mr. Clinton warned Mr. Obama (again) not to repeat his 1993 mistake of allowing mounting opposition to torpedo his grand plans to overhaul health care. Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Clinton was a young Democratic president, with stars in his eyes and idealism on his shirtsleeve. Also just as today, the American people overwhelmingly opposed what he and Hillary Rodham Clinton wanted to do. The result: the total collapse of HillaryCare and loss of Democratic control of the House in 1994.

You can hear Mr. Clinton telling Mr. Obama: “I was right where you are - enemies on my right, enemies on my left. The vultures were circling. And man - Hillary was on my case. What else is new? But I digress. Don’t let the sons of guns get you. Don’t let ‘em tear down my, er, our dream. Mark my words: You will lose more seats in Congress, maybe even party control like I did, if this thing dies. Grab 51 votes in the Senate and do reconciliation if you have to. Stop looking like a potted plant and steamroll ‘em.”

Mr. Clinton gave similar advice several weeks ago, when he alighted on the Senate Democratic caucus to remind its members of the dire consequences he and the party suffered when HillaryCare failed. However, Mr. Clinton refuses to see the biggest reason for his party’s implosion in 1994: It was precisely because the Democrats even tried to pass socialized medicine. Mr. Obama seems to be falling because of the same perverse logic that did in Mr. Clinton: that the same American people who overwhelmingly oppose government-run health care would punish the Democrats more if they failed to pass it. It made no sense then, nor does it now. If Mr. Obama takes Mr. Clinton’s advice, we will get this monstrous, Pac-Man-like entitlement that will consume everything in its path.

Further, if Mr. Obama listens to Mr. Clinton, he’s toast, politically. (On second thought, maybe Bubba gave him that advice for a reason. “Hillary, baby, get on the horn to our fundraisers.”)

Given the Christmas terror attack over Detroit, the two presidents likely spoke of terrorism as well. Mr. Clinton probably told Mr. Obama that he’s got to be (or at least appear to be) far more vigilant on national security. His counsel likely went something like this: “Barack, you’ve got to stop looking disconnected from terrorism; you must look engaged, on top of the intelligence, homeland security, law enforcement and military communities. Got to speak directly to the American people about how you feel their fears about this threat. These terrorist cats are crazy, so you gotta get emotional. When you try to show ‘outrage,’ you look like a three-day-old, moldy corpse. Fire it up, man! When talking about al Qaeda, do like I do and pretend it’s Hillary.”

What Mr. Clinton likely omitted, however, was his own abysmal record on terror. From 1993, al Qaeda hit U.S. interests every two years, starting with the February 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and culminating in the East Africa U.S. Embassy bombings in 1998 and the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Ramzi Yousef was the mastermind of the 1993 bombing; he’s also the nephew of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who provided the financing for the attack. After Yousef was captured, he vowed al Qaeda was coming back to finish the job. Where was Mr. Clinton? Vetting the White House internship program. These were mere dry runs for the epic attack of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Clinton failed to grasp the malignant, metastasizing nature and unrelenting drive of al Qaeda, to the point that he allowed Osama bin Laden to escape the CIA’s lethal cross hairs more than once. Of course, that was before the Sept. 11 attack, which focused the national mind on al Qaeda, but Mr. Clinton’s instincts were much like Mr. Obama’s: health care reform first, second and third. National security was much farther down the list, until it forced his attention.

Perhaps Mr. Obama might disregard Mr. Clinton’s advice, but it’s doubtful. The paths they have followed have been too similar: In their first years, Mr. Clinton was obsessed with health care and gays in the military; Mr. Obama was obsessed with health care and cap-and-trade. Both of their formulations for health care “reform” are disastrous. Both men also were intent on doing everything under the sun except paying attention to an escalating existential threat. For all of the “hope” and “change” Mr. Obama promised, he seems to be ripping off only the worst moves from the original “Man From Hope.”

Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.

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