Man, Bill Clinton Is An Idiot

Bill Clinton's formidable political skills tend to disappear when put in the service of his wife.

Back in April, Slate’s Michelle Goldberg offered the Hillary Clinton campaign some sage advice: “Fire Bill Clinton.”

The Clinton campaign declined to take her suggestion, but perhaps they should give it another look.

Bill Clinton is one of the most talented politicians of the past century, but his supposedly infallible skills continue to fail him when put in the service of someone other than himself.

On Monday, Clinton was on a tarmac in Phoenix when he learned that the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, would soon be on the same tarmac. He delayed his flight so he could try to meet with her. He asked for a meeting, boarded her plane and chatted for about 30 minutes.

On Friday, MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart asked Lynch if there was one important thing she wished former Attorney General Eric Holder had told her. “Where the lock on the plane door was,” Lynch deadpanned.

She needed refuge from Clinton, of course, because the FBI is nearing the end of what has long seemed like an endless investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of an insecure private server for her official email as secretary of state. Now, it’s fine to believe that the investigation itself is over-the-top, but whatever your view on its merits, the investigation exists. For Bill Clinton to meet with the attorney general, who has final authority over whether to bring charges, toward the end of this investigation corrupts the process and casts doubt about the integrity of the outcome.

(Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for an independent prosecutor, which is rich: there isn’t enough time to confirm a Supreme Court justice, but plenty of time for Ken Starr to ride into town again.)

On its face, it was wrong to do, and Democrats would be savaging Republicans if the situation were reversed. It raises one of two possibilities: Either Bill Clinton is an idiot or he wants his wife to lose.

“I wonder if there’s a part of Bill Clinton that doesn’t really want Hillary Clinton to become president, particularly if she has to distance herself from his legacy to do so,” wondered Goldberg back in April, listing a bill of idiotic particulars. “How else to explain why one of the world’s most talented and agile politicians is so consistently flat-footed and destructive when advocating on his wife’s behalf?”

The fallout from the meeting was predictable: Lynch has said she regrets sitting down with Clinton and wouldn’t do it again, given a do-over. And she has said that she will not overrule career prosecutors if they recommend an indictment. Whatever decision the Justice Department ends up making is now clouded in (even more) suspicion.

And perhaps the greatest damage was done to Lynch. It must be awfully difficult to turn down a meeting request from a former president, the spouse of the likely future president, especially for somebody who may have future political ambitions. Did Lynch have aspirations for the Supreme Court? If so, what Clinton just did casts a pall over whatever chance she had.

And for what?

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