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BLITZER'S BLOG: Will Obama rip a page from Clinton’s playbook?
August 10th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

BLITZER'S BLOG: Will Obama rip a page from Clinton’s playbook?

By CNN's Wolf Blitzer

(CNN) - Have you noticed how many liberals lately have been piling on President Barack Obama? Their criticism has been harsh and intense. They mostly focus on his supposed willingness to make concessions to conservative Republicans. They charge that he lets himself be bullied because it’s part of his nonconfrontational nature.

I remember hearing similar criticism in 1995 and 1996 when President Bill Clinton was hammered for making deals with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republicans. Clinton, for example, agreed to major welfare reform, which infuriated many of his liberal base. He was accused of selling out long-standing Democratic Party principles.

It later became clear that Clinton - and it may be the case with Obama as well - was engaged in “triangulation,” a political strategy where he would position himself as a moderate centrist. He was reaching out to independent voters who were not blindly aligned with core Democrats or Republicans.

It was a strategy, by the way, that helped Clinton win re-election in 1996 against Republican nominee Bob Dole.

Clinton’s aides used to say they were happy when liberals criticized him. They thought that would position him well with moderate and independent voters who, of course, are critical in carrying Ohio, Florida and other major swing states in the Electoral College.

All of which raises the question now: Do Obama political aides secretly welcome the criticism from the left? I’ve been checking around, and the short answer - at least for now - is no. Unlike those Clinton aides in the ‘90s, they don’t like the criticism. But I suspect that could change as we get closer to November 2012.

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Filed under: 2012 election • Barack Obama • Bill Clinton • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. Bones

    Essays like this are so impoartnt to broadening people\'s horizons.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  2. Perk

    Rip a page from Clinton ? Yeah,Hillary's economic plan for an intelligent start ! Stop placing the blame and focus on jobs or better yet get the big govt. out of the American citizens way ! We'll recover if our govt. will do that ! Obama is out of bounds and he didn't have the experience needed and that's showing ! You don't hire a Jr. Senator to run the country ! He's a good rookie but he's fouled out and game over ! Where are the jobs ?

    August 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  3. Perk

    The stock market went down how many points when he started speaking ? We would not be in this economic jam with this sad execuse for policy implementation and headed toward socialism in the US had Hillary Clinton won. "Speeches vs Solutions!" To heck with politics and get real ! Where do we write her name in for President ? How do we get her back in then saddle for president ? I bet we could get millions to talk her into it ! Just write her name in ? Ya move on but will never forget that run off between Obama and Clinton in a life time. Never say never ! Hillary Clinton needs to saddle up for President !

    August 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  4. Sonny DeLuca

    Wolf, here is the brass tack. If "We the People" truely want a change in government and established politics there is no other suitable candidate for that change (currently) Than President Obama. He is the only available politician that I've seen who would actually be open to a change. The "GOP" (just to remind you that the "O" stands for for Ole which means OLD) Is all about keeping things the same or going even further back to a simpler time. It's 21st century and we need 21st century solutions not Ole party solutions or Democrats who talk and talk about across the board fairness, while they do nothing but talk all the way to the bank. There are no consequences to our governments actions, how would we expect any change in these supposed "adults" under these circumstances when we don't expect it from teens with the same circumstances? Every major corporation has an R&D dept. why doesn't our government. Why should we accept the current political system forever without change? As long as we allow the rich to protect themselves from change that "may" effect their pockets we will lose.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  5. janice cowley, canadian

    What ever happened to, " Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".. I have an idea, how about get busy, it seems to me there's a lot of people sitting around complaining, so many obese people, have you seen the African babies dying from hunger. Wake up and smell the energy crisis knocking at the door. How do you expect your president to make any moves when you've in essence gave him little power, congress have him in a gridlock, its a stalemate.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  6. KatR

    The only similiarities I see between Clinton and Obama is that the GOP was upset that Clinton was elected in 92 and the GOP is still upset that Obama was elected in 08. Also, when Clinton was re-elected it wasn't long before the GOP cooked up a charge of impeachment and failed in their effort. I wonder what reason for imopeachment the GOP will cook up for Obama when he's re-elected in 2012. Anbd he will get re-elected. I haven't seen any candidate on the looooonnng list of GOP presidential hopefuls that have introduced any different ideas for governing than what Obama has exhibited. All they can do is slam Obama. Where's their ideas? (the sound of crickets.............)

    August 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  7. Jay

    The president and his staff, will propose and pass infastructure jobs creation bill and re-build americas roads, bridges, schools & Etc!!!!!!!!! With the wars winding down, those funds should be put into re-building our countrys infastructure. I believe President Obama and his staff, will put the american people back to work. Also the rich need to pay thier fare share of taxes. They must, in order to create revenue. Its only common sense!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  8. RaoulDuke

    I believe people are being too hard on compromises... too many want their own way and have little tolerance for anything less. Sorry, but you share this nation with hundreds of millions of others, all in their own situation. Everyone cant get everything they want.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  9. JWR

    The job loss issue facing America today began in the Spring of 2001. There are many reasons some may never return to America. For example, the company I formerly worked for was influenced by China to close a manufacturing facility in Alabama and open the same in China. This occured because China was the main customer seeking the product that was manufacted in Alabama. I don't know how many times this scenario has played here in America. Of course the labor is cheap in China with little or no regulation. For us as Americans frequently touting democracy and caving in to Socialism abroad is two-faced and downright shameful. We have put dollars (paper) over the lives of people. Greed is our number one enemy.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  10. rgray222

    Obama is not going to sit in Bill Ayers kitchen and rethink how he was raised and how he might change. He is an ideologue that was raised as to be a socialist. Unfortunately he has no intention of changing. It will always be someone else's fault because for him to accept any blame would mean everything he stands for is wrong. It has been Bush's fault, he has taken that about as far as it can go. Even democrats know this is old, then its the republicans fault, now it S & P's fault. It will be impossible for him to look inside and see the truth, that you can not spend you way back to prosperity. It would crush him too much to accept the truth. He is not strong enough to change like Clinton did!

    August 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Anandu

      The United States doesn't shun religion, as you say. We have a siatrapeon of church and state as well as Freedom of Religion (in the first amendment), in case you forgot. Just because our government doesn't have the right to do things in the name of God and because ALL religions, as long as they do not harm others, are accepted, doesn't mean that the US shuns religion.And the presidential nominee doesn't really pick his own VP, the decision is made by the party in order to reach the most voters.As for Obama's nomination being a guarantee for McCain, I hope you're wrong. I don't want another President Bush and McCain wants to not only continue the war in Iraq but expand it to Iran!!! Enough white rich men in office, let's have some real changes.Just because someone doesn't have as much experience, doesn't mean they won't be a good president. Look at JFK one of our youngest presidents and one of the most beloved! I can't wait to vote for Obama, no matter who he runs with.

      August 3, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  11. wot

    Never ever whether togetherness!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  12. Obama's done!!

    No more worries people. Gov. Rick Perry has announced his run for president. This country will finally rid itself of the trash that's in the white house as we speak. One more year of this lefty liberal b-s and then you guys can take a back seat while Perry shows you what it means to lead and love your country! So dance in your fire with your develish smile liberals, blind and buying bridges Obama sold you. How funny, so laugh with me because your U.s, jeremiha Wright loving president will be shown the door! The reason you guys are so upset is that you already know this!!

    August 11, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Dan in Albuquerque

      Perry doesn't have a serious chance. Not when his "balanced buidget was really a 6 billion dollar deficit that was paid off with Obama stimulus money, that Perry preached against. It's bad for everyone but him, I guess.
      Also, 40% of those jobs came from part-time minimum wage that no one can live on. They came at a time when Texas' population increased by 4 million. His baggage will begin to weigh him down seriously and show him to be a fake prophet.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Damocles

      Rick Parry stands about a billionth of a degree of wining any thing. He's to extreme the mid. class is afraid of that kind of religiousness in a president. What fly's in Texas is certainly not representative of the US as hole. its like watching Bush on Steroids!

      September 2, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  13. k

    Clinton had a free ride?...he had no wars because he did not start any...he actually looked to America first...Katrina, Gulf Oil...Clinton would have handled those situations in a way people would have approved him or not he did what he felt should be done even when others did not agree...even in the oval office 😉

    We the people voted Bush into his second term and ultimatly got ourselves here...and the last President who left us with a surplus we impeached. Yep...we the people are morons.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  14. Pete

    Whew! I thought Obama was going to get Ross Perot to run again, the only way slick Willie got elected/reelected!

    "while I may not agree with what you have to say, I will fight to the death for your right to say it."
    ~can we please get back to that mindset?

    August 11, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  15. Aaron

    This article is merely the rewriting of history 15, 16 years later. There's no comparison between the two. Clinton stood his ground. Obama draws the line in the sand, says it's immovable, then gives Repubs everything they want.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  16. Kmnla

    Why all this negative comparison to Clinton? Clinton had a relative free ride major wars, so he was able to balance the budget in part by shutting down the military. He didn't get get health care through despite a mandate to do it in the first four years, he passed the silly compromise known as don't ask, don't tell, and he accomplished nothing in the Middle East peace process. Obama has at least had the guts to risk his presidency on tough decisions, and no President since Roosevelt has had a tougher environment to work in. Do I wish he were more sophisticated and tougher politically? Yeah, but I don't wish he was Clinton.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • Howard


      August 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
      • moxylady

        why don't you impeach your over consumerism, leaving a "Devastating environmental impact" on the planet, you don't even see intelligence when its right in front of you, what a waste of space...........

        August 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
      • Daniel

        All I can say is .whoever gets elected, I do not beielve that we are going to see majors changes. If we have a Democrat president, we will be paying a whole lot of taxes. Did you know that the democrats would not renew a tax law that allows college tuitions to be deducted (being a young graduate, I definitely enjoyed having the chance to do so), they have not renewed the tax law that allows dividends to be taxed only 15%, and they are now taxed 35%, oh and to make it even better, Obama wants to raise the Capital Gain tax rate from 15% to no more than 35%, but no less than 28%. I mean is that really what people want .to work more and get more money taken away??? Don't get me wrong .I don't really like McCain either, and don't beielve that he will be able to resolve a whole lot. I just think that we are unfortunate with the candidates running right now, and I just hope that whoever gets elected will at least help us come out of this economic crisis, and those awful gas prices.

        August 3, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • Howard


      The tribal wisdom of the Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." However,Obama follows the 'Dead Horse' strategy, such as:

      1. Buying a stronger whip.
      2. Changing riders.
      3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
      4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
      5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
      6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
      7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
      8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
      9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.
      10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
      11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
      12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
      And of course....
      13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.


      August 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Don

    Enough of the strategy sessions for re-election. This country is in dire need of responsible people doing the jobs they were elected to do. Obama going on vacation at this juncture is total irresponsible. Call back congress and show the people and the rest of the world that you are working hard....not on vacation. Where in hell did this country go wrong....why are these representatives of America not meeting and solving problems? The countries finances are in the toilet and the rich are on vacation.

    Our President has lost any leadership he had. No one is listening and he isn't acting presidential. Get to it mister president or just go on vacation and let others do your work.


    August 11, 2011 at 6:55 am |
    • Travis

      Were u saying the same thing in 2005 when Bush stayed on vacation when Katrina hit. Let's not forget that.

      August 11, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  18. Debbie

    Is Obama following Clinton's strategy? I don't think so. I really think the guy believes in bipartisanship. Nice ideal but not reality. 2012 leaves Independents to vote for one of 3 evils: TEA who hate America, GOP who tanks America, and Dems who spend America. In the end I will vote for the lesser of the 3 evils. The GOP/TEA have nothing to offer as a candidate and the Dems had no one run against Obama. At this moment it will be Obama. It's not so much a vote "for" him as a vote against the other evils. 2012 is a long way away and at this point I question if America will survive. I think the American French Revolution may happen first. Viva la France!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Jim

      I'm not a Tea Party person, but where do you say they hate America. They pointed out a major issue that would crush us in a couple of years. Were they to stubborn yes, but at least it was with good intentions. Obama would like nothing more to spend and spend. The last stimulus was a waste. You extend unemployment but you don't train people for the jobs of tomorrow. Now the unemployment is gone and the unemployed are unemployable because they don't have skills. The Tea party is correct that spending for the sake of spending will destroy this country. How will the poor fair five years from now when we can't borrow?

      August 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
      • Damocles

        cutting spending at this juncture will drive the economy in to the worst depression any one has ever seen. it doesn't fallow good economic standers. if your going to speak to a subject it vary important to educate your self. i know it sounds contrary to common sens but this are complex issues and often gut instincts to recoil in the face of det is counter productive . the Governments spending is the only thing holding are economy up. take that away and you mite not be able to feed your self next year. how about fixing the tax code and stop the blame game we are way past that luxury

        September 2, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Tman95

      You could always stay home.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Komal

      It is sad how people call Hillary shady wiothut stating a fact. Hillary has always been concerned about the less fortunate. When Hillary was in high school she raised money to help the immigrant workers and even did baby sitting for the imigrant worker's babies. Hillary has always been a very smart, successful, and determined woman. When Hillary went to visit Harvard a professor told Hillary there were already too many female lawyers, so Hillary decided to go to Yale instead where she met Bill Clinton. Hillary has always gotten a bad rap from some people. When Bill Clinton became governor, Hillary was a successful lawyer and this bothered some people because they expected a governors wife not to work. When Hillary went to Wellesley College and noticed there were not a lot of African Americans on campus, she organized a two-day student strike and worked with Wellesley's black students to recruit more black students and faculty. I do not understand why someone would vote for McCain if Hillary is VP. Voting for McCain means another Bush Jr. The only people benifiting from voting Republican are the elite 3 percent of Americans that make $200,000 or more a year because they get better tax better tax breaks than the 97 percent of Americans that make less than $200,000 per year.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • Ernesto

      It is true that the tax system needs an ovarheul, but it is a very, very complicated issue. People who make $200,000, for example, are not rich by today's standards, particularly when there are children involved. College (and saving for retirement) are huge expenses, especially if they get a college education, which, at a minimum, costs a family $60,000 per child for just a 4-year degree. And, if you make in that income, you don't get financial aid.They need to set the standards higher where they consider someone rich, and yes, tax laws need to be adjusted for those very rich people because they are getting breaks while others are not. But certainly taxes for the rich should not be punitive. The rich are the ones who are creating new businesses, creating jobs, and employing suckers like me! LOL. Don't take the tax incentives away for them to do so because then we all suffer. If there are no tax incentives, that means the new companies and technologies won't be created.Also, did you know that 10% of the top income earners pay almost 70% of all taxes in this country??

      August 3, 2012 at 12:26 am |
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