Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker quotes a Bill Clinton aide explaining why there has been so much tension between the former president and Barack Obama: “I think this campaign has enraged him. ... He doesn’t like Obama.” Why? Here’s one theory: While Hillary Clinton has adopted her husband’s legacy, Barack Obama has been assailing it.
The New Yorker:
The focus on Clintonian error has obscured a serious debate that Obama and the former President tried to have. Obama has been arguing that the country’s economic troubles are as much Clinton’s fault as Bush’s—he blames Clinton-era deregulation of the telecommunications and banking industries—and he implicitly accuses Bill Clinton of surrendering to special interests. “The problems we face go beyond any single Administration,” Obama told one labor audience. “For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican Administrations, the system has been rigged against everyday Americans by the lobbyists that Wall Street uses to get its way.” In much quoted remarks to a private group in San Francisco, Obama said that some Pennsylvanians were “bitter” and would “cling” to guns and religion, because jobs “fell through the Clinton Administration and the Bush Administration.”
That is what offended Bill Clinton. “Hillary’s opponent, in his entire campaign, every two or three weeks has said for months and months and months, beginning in Nevada, that really there wasn’t much difference in how America did when I was President and how America’s done under President Bush,” he said in Lock Haven. “Now, if you believe that, you should probably vote for him, but you get a very bad grade in history.” In the closing days of the campaign, Obama gave at least three speeches criticizing the former President, who, ever vigilant of his legacy, defended himself at every stop. Few paid attention; Barack and Bill were like two boxers trying to have a fight but both getting pelted by a mysterious third force—the saturation gaffe coverage.