Former President Bill Clinton, who jokes that a cell phone weighed five pounds when he took office in 1993, told a VeriSign event to mark the 25th anniversary of dot com that he’s a big fan of the Web, cell phones and email, but hasn’t yet sprung for an electronic reader.
Tales from the Trail
Former President Bill Clinton will be the main speaker at the March 20 Gridiron Club dinner where journalists wear costumes and perform musical skits in a roast of the movers and shakers in Washington, and political leaders respond with speeches that poke fun right back.
Barack Obama’s plate is piled high with problems — two wars, stubbornly high U.S. joblessness, a stalled healthcare overhaul and a poisonously partisan political environment in Washington. But one thing he isn’t low on is advice.
Once, a first-term Democratic president failed to deliver on healthcare reform and found his party swept from office by a wave of voter anger that brought Republican Newt Gingrich to the forefront of American politics. Could this history lesson from the Clinton era be repeated?
The folks at Gallup say Barack Obama is easily the most ‘polarized’ first-year president of the postwar era — and they’re not talking about pre-digital camera snapshots.
They mean that Obama, like his immediate predecessors, is the object of growing partisanship within American public opinion.
Obama finished his first year in office on Jan. 19 with an 88 percent job approval rating among Democrats but only 23 percent approval among Republicans.
That leaves a 65-percentage-point gap between the two partisan lines, eclipsing the previous first-year polarization record of 52 points, held by Democrat Bill Clinton.
If Obama’s numbers don’t change, he will exceed Republican George W. Bush as the most polarized of post-World War II presidents. (Over the course of Bush’s presidency, Republicans and Democrats were 61 points apart on average.)
But there’s something more afoot than the individual horse races.
Gallup says its findings illustrate an upswing in voter partisanship since the time of Republican Ronald Reagan. Before the 1980s, partisan approval gaps ranged from a low of 19 percent for Democrat Lyndon Johnson to a high of 34 percent for Republican Richard Nixon.
“Obama — like his immediate predecessor Bush — sought to bring Americans together after periods of heightened political polarization in the United States. But despite their best intentions and efforts, both men’s approval ratings have been characterized by extreme partisanship,” Gallup said.
“The way Americans view presidents has clearly changed in recent decades, perhaps owing to the growth in variety, sources and even politicization of news on cable television and the Internet, and the continuing popularity of politically oriented talk radio.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who is helping to coordinate global relief for Haiti with former President George W. Bush, says the quake-stricken country could bounce back much more quickly than people might think.
When it comes to showing support, bringing an entourage of people on a huge famous plane to the funeral of your friend’s mother says a lot.