Whither Clinton the Philanthropist?

Regardless the wisdom, or outcome, of Bubba’s decision to roll up his sleeves and jump into the 08 election fray, where does it leave his newfound reputation as an innovative philanthropist? John Gapper writes from Davos:

During his 1996 presidential re-election campaign, Mr Clinton said on a visit to Nevada: “I’m on the verge of finishing the last campaign I’ll ever be in unless I run for the school board one day.” Nevada should have been so lucky; he was back last week, lashing out at a reporter who asked him about legal action by Clinton supporters to block caucuses at Las Vegas casinos….It may not matter if Mrs Clinton gains the Democrat nomination and becomes president. Her husband will return to the White House as the “first laddy” and his sharp-elbowed campaign will eventually be forgotten. Despite his insistence, the Clinton Foundation and Global Initiative would probably hibernate.

But what if Mrs Clinton is defeated and Mr Clinton wants to resume the role of senator’s husband and global philanthropist? That, I suspect, would be hard. For the Bill Clinton on display in this year’s election is now overshadowing the Bill Clinton the non-US world knows and respects. It spells trouble not only for Mr Clinton himself but also for the causes he advocates and for others who have placed their causes under his banner…. By laying into Mr Obama so cynically, Mr Clinton is trashing his own reputation for idealism…If I were him, I would think long and hard about the risks he is taking with his no-holds-barred political attacks. If he carries on in the same vein, he may not find so many fans attending him in future.

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