Bill Clinton, Master of the Game

The Clintons have already made history during their eight successful years in the White House—a claim no other candidate can make

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Former U.S. President speaks on stage at the closing session of the Clinton Global Initiative 2015 on September 29, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images)

To appreciate some high moments in modern American presidential history and assess the prospects of future events in the presidential campaign of 2016, lets consider two great truths about the man I call the master of the game, the widely admired and internationally respected former president of the United States: Bill Clinton.

The first great truth is that Mr. Clinton was and remains the master of the game of American politics and government. He was a hugely successful president whose years in the Oval Office are fondly remembered by so many Americans for the tens of millions of jobs that were created and the peace and prosperity they brought to the nation.

The second great truth is that a potential presidency of Hillary Clinton—a formidable and vastly experienced public figure in her own right—would almost certainly look very similar in substance and spirit to a 21st Century version of the presidency of Mr. Clinton, with the added historic achievement of bringing to the White House the first woman president.

At a time when most Americans are cynical about modern politicians and skeptical about the promises they make, the Bill Clinton presidency was real and his achievements in office make him the most admired living former president.

In his first presidential campaign in 1992 it was widely joked that if voters supported Mr. Clinton they would “buy one and get one free.” Ms. Clinton was such a compelling public figure that during a Bill Clinton presidency Ms. Clinton would be a full partner, key advisor and close confidant as well as first lady. 

In 1992 it turned out to be true and today the roles are reversed. In 2016 if the former first lady, United States Senator and Secretary of State becomes president, the most popular living former president would be her key advisor, close confidant and full partner in the presidency.

Bill Clinton will speak with conviction, authority and warmth about what they achieved during his presidency and what she can achieve with him by her side.

There is a magic to the politics of Bill Clinton, whose skills on the hustings make him the political equivalent of Robert Redford in The Natural, and whose skill in the art of governing make him the master of the game in the business of making government work.

The secret weapon for Ms. Clinton’s campaign in 2016 is that politicians can make all of the promises in the world, but the Clintons have already made history during their eight successful years in the White House—a claim that no other candidate in either party can make.

As the festival of presidential politics in the fall of 2015 moves inexorably towards the momentous hour of decision of choosing America’s next president and commander in chief in the fall of 2016, Americans would be comforted and reassured by the notion that the Clinton’s shared experiences and successes through one eight year presidency augur well for the prospects of a Hillary Clinton presidency should the voters so decide.

No person better dramatizes the bridge between the accomplishments of the Bill Clinton presidency and the prospect of success for a Hillary Clinton presidency than a gentleman named John Podesta, who I know and respect enormously.

Mr. Podesta was White House chief of staff under President Clinton and is currently campaign chairman for Ms. Clinton. He has assumed a time-honored role in Washington which has historically been called “wise men,” and now includes “wise women” who offer advice and counsel at the highest levels to presidents and leading public figures. Informed observers consider him the most trusted advisor to both Clintons and believe he would almost certainly play a central role in a Hillary Clinton presidency.

As 2016 moves into high gear Mr. Clinton will be playing an increasingly visible role for Ms. Clinton, which will work to her considerable advantage as he puts his skill on the campaign trail and their experience of governing successfully at the service of her campaign.

The master of the game will give an indescribable boost to the prospects of Americans electing our first woman president.

While Ms. Clinton’s Democratic and Republican opponents will engage in the charges and countercharges of conventional campaigns, Bill Clinton (as the natural of American politics and a president who evokes fond memories of success) will speak with conviction, authority and warmth about what the Clintons achieved together during his presidency and what she can achieve—with him by her side—in her presidency, if the voters elect her.

When Bill Clinton as statesman gave a moving tribute last week to his close friend and partner for peace Yitzhak Rabin—the late Prime Minister of Israel who was one of the giants of Israeli history—he reminded Americans and Israelis and decent people everywhere of the somber duties and great aspirations that men and women in power can put in the service of the people they lead.

When Mr. Clinton speaks of policies that can make the American economy more just and prosperous for all citizens, he does so with the authority and credibility of reminding voters that he and Ms. Clinton have been there and done that in the White House before.

When he campaigns alongside the woman he loves with wit and charm and gusto, and true stories of the things they have accomplished together, the master of the game will give an indescribable boost to the prospects of Americans electing our first woman president.

Bill Clinton, Master of the Game