- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Former President Clinton continues to provide lukewarm support for Sen. Barack Obama. In television appearances this week, Mr. Clinton endorsed Mr. Obama but made favorable statements regarding Sen. John McCain, and Gov. Sarah Paline and her husband, Todd. This contrasts with the criticism other Democrats have leveled against their Republican opponents.

On “The View,” Mr. Clinton said it is not necessary to demonize an opponent in an election campaign. When asked if it made sense for former Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters to vote for Mrs. Palin, Mr. Clinton said: “Voting is a complicated process.” He praised Mr. McCain for helping his administration normalize relations with Vietnam. He also said Americans admire Mr. McCain “for good and sufficient reasons” and “he has given something in life the rest of us can’t match.” Despite the many opportunities the hosts presented, Mr. Clinton did not seize the opportunity to steer voters away from the Republican ticket.

The same pattern was apparent in his interview with “On the Record with Greta van Sustern.” Mr. Clinton said that he much preferred Mr. Obama’s economic and foreign-policy positions, yet he had glowing words for Mr. McCain: “As you know, I’ve made it — my admiration for him quite clear. I like him. I admire him.” He also said Mr. Palin is “an interesting guy,” and that he admired Mr. Palin’s perseverance in competing in 500-mile snowmobile races, even with a broken arm: “You know, I like people that don’t quit and are tough in the face of adversity.”He even praised the Palin marriage: “But, they obviously love each other, and it looks to me like they’ve got a pretty good relationship.”

On “Larry King Live,” Mr. Clinton said that Mrs. Palin is “appealing” and that she and her family are “gutsy, spirited and real.”

Mr. Clinton has been much criticized for his previous tepid support of Mr. Obama. During the Democratic convention, he delivered a speech that temporarily laid these concerns to rest. Is he simply being gracious and telling Democrats that negative attacks are an ineffective strategy? A more realistic interpretation is that Mr. Clinton is communicating with the voters who supported Mrs. Clinton — many of whom remain unconvinced regarding Mr. Obama. With this repeated praise for the Republican candidates, it is clear that Mr. Clinton is tacitly telling members of his own party and independents that it is fine to vote for Republican candidates. How democratic of him.

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