While spending the day in South Carolina, "Nightline" co-host Terry Moran could barely contain his awe over Bill Clinton and his political skills. The reporter lauded the former president as "the man often called the most gifted politician of his generation." While describing the ex-commander in chief's campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Saturday's primary, Moran rhapsodized, "He lectures and jokes around and feels your pain and implores you to believe."
Although the ABC journalist offered a few token questions about whether or not Bill Clinton is overshadowing his wife's run for the White House, Moran repeatedly slipped into the sort of fawning coverage that one would expect on "Access Hollywood." While intercutting clips of the impeached ex-president's stump speech, Moran asserted, "If you close your eyes while he talks...you could almost imagine it's 1992 all over again--[clip from '92 speech] --and a brilliant young governor is charming his way to the White House."
Perhaps this was Moran's way of providing "balance" to the Clinton camp. In 2006, Moran provided famously over-the-top coverage of Senator Barack Obama, the "American political phenomenon."
Moran's segment indicated someone who views Bill Clinton as a kind of lovable rascal. After mentioning how the former president was mostly sidelined during the early part of his wife's campaign, he happily noted, "But then Barack Obama surged, Hillary let the big dog out..."
In his summation of the segment, Moran made very clear just how amazed he is by the Clintons. Lapsing into something akin to a press release, he asserted, "It is so unprecedented, this personal and political partnership, so fraught with history and baby boomer melodrama. They have already made history, and they are out to do it again, together, through it all."
Despite Moran's insistence (and many others in the media), that Bill Clinton is "brilliant," it's worth noting that he never got 50 percent of the vote in 1992 or 1996, lost both houses of Congress during his tenure and was impeached. Just because the media repeatedly calls someone brilliant, doesn't make it so.
A partial transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:46pm on January 24, follows:
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Let's head to presidential politics now. It's just two days until the Democratic primary in South Carolina, where polls suggest Senator Barack Obama is in the lead. And where Senator Hillary Clinton has largely left her campaigning to her number one surrogate, Bill Clinton. That has created quite a ruckus, as my co-anchor Terry Moran saw up close. Terry joins us now from South Carolina. Terry?
TERRY MORAN: Well, Cynthia, it sure has created a ruckus. This is another chapter in this fascinating Democratic race this year. And it's almost unprecedented. Almost. Think about it for a moment. When George W. Bush ran for president back in 2000, how much do you remember President George Herbert Walker Bush, his father, campaigning for him? The Bushes were ver careful about that. Now, that was a father/son relationship. The husband and wife team of Bill and Hillary Clinton, well, they're taking a very different approach. There he goes again. The man often called the most gifted politician of his generation is once again at the center of American politics, taking over the 2008 Democratic campaign. And he's clearly loving every minute of it.
BILL CLINTON: I'd just like to talk to people. Good morning. Good morning.
MORAN: He sure does. Hour after hour after hour, in the past few days here in South Carolina, the former president has been conducting a schedule as ambitious as any candidate who's running here. He talks and talks and talks. He lectures and jokes around and feels your pain and implores you to believe.
BILL CLINTON: You have to believe me on this. I do this all around the world. We are leaving millions of jobs on the table that we can get to change America. And her plan will do it.
MORAN: Of course, she is Hillary, Senator Clinton, the Clinton who's actually running for president this year.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: And I want to rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class.
MORAN: But with Bill, it's a little hard to tell as he makes the case for another Clinton administration, there's an awful lot of boasting about his own.
BILL CLINTON: We paid down the debt three years in a row for first time in70 years and you didn't have a lot of these problems. When I was president, we moved almost eight million people from poverty into the middle class.
MORAN: It is truly audacious, making the case for Hillary by making his own case and it all seems to throw Barack Obama on the defensive.
HILLARY CLINTON: I did not mention his name.
BARACK OBAMA: Your husband did.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not.
OBAMA: Okay, well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.
MORAN: Today, Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife, joined the fray in a fund-raising e-mail declaring, "We knew getting into this race that Barack would be competing with Senator Clinton and President Clinton at the same time. What we didn't expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win it all cost tactics." A radio ad that ran briefly here drove that point home.
OBAMA RADIO AD: It's what's wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected.
MORAN: Sound familiar? It should. That's what the Clintons' opponents always say, like Senator Paul Tsongas, steam rolled by Bill Clinton way back in 1992.
PAUL TSONGAS AD: Some people will say anything to be elected president. Now, Bill Clinton is distorting Paul Tsongas' record on Social Security, trying to scare people.
BILL CLINTON: But for your future, this is important.
MORAN: There is a sense of deja vu watching Bill Clinton today. If you close your eyes while he talks --
BILL CLINTON: I'm most concerned about the economic problems because if we go into a recession, it will complicate our ability to do everything else.
MORAN: And listen to him talk about how it's the economy that matters, the middle class--
BILL CLINTON: That's our program, rebuild the middle class, reclaim the future with green jobs, restore America's standing in the world.
MORAN: --you could almost imagine it's 1992 all over again--
BILL CLINTON [from 1992]: And we will put them to work, making America strong and great here at home.
MORAN: --and a brilliant young governor is charming his way to the White House. It was a legendary campaign, part soap opera, part policy seminar, so compelling, Hollywood turned it into a movie.
JOHN TRAVOLTA IN A CLIP FROM "PRIMARY COLORS": And I don't have to tell you how hard it is to be looking for work. Hey, I don't have to tell you anything about hard times.
MORAN: It's so unprecedented, this personal and political partnership, so fraught with history and baby boomer melodrama. They have already made history, and they are out to do it again, together, through it all.