We've seen this tale before. The media whips itself into a lather over Bill Clinton's confrontational behavior on the campaign trail. "Bill Ruining Hillary's Chances," they shout. This past weekend was no different. At a Canton, OH rally for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, the former president got testy with a Barack Obama supporter who razzed him. The man, Robert Holeman, now claims that Bubba made physical contact when pointing his famous finger in the heckler's face.
There's more. At a Steubenville, Ohio rally on Sunday, a protestor near the stage held up a sign that read "Abortion Kills Children," as Bill boasted that his administration successfully reduced the abortion rate without eliminating abortion rights. "We had the lowest teen pregnancy rate since the statistics had been kept when we were doing that. And guess what? Without overturning Roe v. Wade, or trying to keep people all torn up and upset or calling them killers, the abortion rate went down almost 20 percent on our watch," he said. (According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, abortions dropped to 1.3 million from 1.5 million between 1993 and 2000).
Another protestor shouted at Bill and, visibly rattled, he replied "We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. ... If you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won’t say you want to do that because you know that, because you know that you wouldn’t have a lick of political support."
The red-faced Bubba has been doing this sort of thing for months now, since Hillary first rolled him out onto the campaign trail. And the big question is whether all this passion and aggression is helping or hurting her presidential prospects. Personally, I love it. I love seeing Bill Clinton passionate and saying what he believes, without worry of camera, media or criticism. That's the character of a true leader. He's not pandering to anyone, nor does he care if he pisses off the opposition. To the contrary, I believe he actually enjoys it, as he's acutely manipulating them even further out into the open, exposing them for the belligerent, myopic kooks they are. I wish more politicians--yes, even his wife and Obama--had the nerve, the confidence, to actually say what they believe rather that what they think they need to say or are told to say by advisors.
Make no mistake. There's a reason why Bill Clinton is one of the most popular prsidents in our 232 year history. And it's because he always has been and will always be able to connect with Americans the way no other president has in modern history. They believe him, and in him. That he takes no shit on the campaign trail from the angry right-wingers who get in his way only furthers this idolatry. As to whether his antics hurt or help his wife's candidacy, I suspect it has no effect on the Republicans he allegedly offends, and it demonstrates to the Democratic base that he's still a fighter who's not afraid, like so many others, to speak his mind and stand up for himself and his wife. Imagine if John Kerry in '04 or Al Gore in 2000 had done the same. That's why they're losers and he's a winner.
On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.