No one is doing more damage to Hillary’s campaign than her husband.
By Michelle Goldberg
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. 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? How else to explain his terrible and destined-to-be-viral confrontation Thursday with Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia?
It started when the demonstrators interrupted Bill Clinton’s speech to protest his draconian 1994 crime bill, which, among other things, expanded the scope of the death penalty, enshrined “three-strikes” provisions into federal law, and allocated almost $10 billion in funding for prison construction. That bill is now widely seen as contributing to the human catastrophe of mass incarceration. Hillary Clinton is proposing a diametrically different approach to criminal justice, and even Bill Clinton renounced the law last year, though today, bafflingly, he went back to defending it.
“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-olds hopped up on crack and sent them out into the street to murder other African American children,” he shouted at the protesters. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn’t. She didn’t! You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter.” The crowd cheered, but most Hillary supporters who watch it online will be aghast, if only out of political self-interest. Right-wing outlets like the Daily Caller and the Weekly Standard rushed, naturally, to post video of Bill’s hectoring.
At a time when Hillary Clinton is dependent on black voters and campaigning with mothers who’ve lost sons to police violence, Bill Clinton yoked her to his own discredited policies. He reminded everyone that, in defense of his bill, she’d once spoken about underage “superpredators,” language she has since apologized for. Then, Bill Clinton aped the maddening right-wing tendency to derail conversations about criminal justice abuses by invoking black-on-black crime. He might as well have said, “All lives matter!”