Hillary Clinton has warned her opponents that her husband's impeachment is off limits as a line of attack in the battle for the Democratic nomination for president. Fair enough. Bill Clinton isn't running for president, and he is no more relevant to his wife's campaign than the spouse of any other candidate.
But if other Democrats can't use the former president's impeachment against her, then it doesn't seem right for her to be able to cite his accomplishments in bolstering her candidacy. And I'm apparently not the only one to have this thought:
"She's using him in this campaign, so why can't somebody else use him?" asked a veteran of Democratic presidential politics who is not currently aligned with a candidate but who, like numerous other Democrats, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of angering the Clintons. "She's just made him fair game. He's part of her strategy, so why can't he be part of one of her opponents'?" (link)
Don't get me wrong. I agree that the Clintons were victims of a right-wing hate machine which had spent years leveling scurrilous and defamatory charges against them. For that reason I'm glad that the Senate did not vote to remove the president from office.
But Bill Clinton did lie under oath. He repeated that lie to the American people. He repeated that lie to members of his administration, who staked their own reputations on defending him. And while I'm no prude, I'll point out that he engaged in conduct in public office that would get most of us fired were we to do it at our jobs. I would have been perfectly happy had he resigned from office upon coming clean with the American people about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Imagine the standard that would have set for the conduct of future presidents.
Instead, President Clinton dug in and fought, sensing that his enemies would beat him in their race to the bottom. As a result, the government was more or less paralyzed for weeks on end, and anything that might have gotten accomplished during Clinton's second term was squandered. I certainly wasn't pleased to see George W. Bush take office in 2001, but I was happy to see Bill Clinton go.
That said, I think that Hillary Clinton's fellow candidates would have to be pretty foolish to use her husband's impeachment against her. The impeachment remains deeply unpopular among liberal Democrats (and many other people as well). Clinton's on the ropes with the party's base over her refusal to apologize for her Iraq War vote, so why would her opponents do anything that would earn her sympathy?
I'm aware of what David Geffen said about the Clintons. But here's a news flash: Most Americans don't know who David Geffen is. I'm guessing that even a majority of Democratic primary voters don't know who he is. It was a mistake for Hillary Clinton to make a fuss over this. As another Democratic president once said, if you can't take the heat...