Democratic catfights are usually papered over on liberal networks. But NBC’s Wednesday morning coverage of the ongoing battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over his goofy declaration to meet with America-hating tyrants without preconditions came jam-packed with words of praise for Bill Clinton, the "peacemaker" of the duel. Matt Lauer began: "Now to Bill Clinton, peacemaker. Every president would like that label but they don't normally get it for keeping the peace between their own party's candidates, especially when one of them happens to be his wife." Lauer later added that Clinton is an "elder statesman" and "experienced voice of reason" within the Democratic fold.
In David Gregory’s story, viewers witnessed the usual Bill-adoring lingo from John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent: "One of the things that we know about Bill Clinton is that his political instincts are second to none, and if he thinks that there's a dangerous point in this fight with Barack Obama that's a pretty good sign that Hillary Clinton ought to back off a little bit."
As much as conservatives might like liberals to persist with their illusions, how did the Democrats fare as a majority party when President Clinton, Lord of the Political Instincts, sat in the White House? They lost both houses for twelve years despite Clinton’s alleged political genius. (Don’t forget the question of how a man with titanic political instincts would have sex with interns in the White House.)
But that’s not the only annoying tic in the coverage. Lauer then turned to Tim Russert for analysis. Notice how Russert doesn’t seem to find that "the base" of the Democratic party seems to have a definable ideology. They’re not "the liberal base," they’re just "the base."
Lauer: "So what's going on with Bill Clinton here? What's he trying to accomplish? What does he see as a potential problem for Hillary in this debate?"
Russert: "Well when Hillary Clinton said that Barack Obama is 'naive,' 'irresponsible' for suggesting, talking to foreign leaders without conditions, her camp felt great. 'This is a great general election strategy. She's securing her credentials as commander-in-chief.' But when Obama came back and said, 'What's naive and irresponsible is voting for the war,' the base of the Democratic Party got energized. And they also think, the base, that you should be talking to these kinds of leaders. So Bill Clinton does not want to see Obama get any kind of traction, whatsoever. He likes the race, just the way it is."
Lauer: "But he just, walk, have to walk a fine line as David pointed out. He's kind of this elder statesman, the experienced voice of reason in the party but he's also gotta be Hillary's big supporter."
Russert: "He can be the first spouse. He's for Hillary Clinton, make no mistake about it."
Lauer thinks Clinton is a "peacemaker" and an "elder statesman" and "the experienced voice of reason in the party." Is he angling for a round of golf with the former president? Or is this just the expected way NBC anchors are supposed to address Bill Clinton?