A Clinton Restoration?

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Among the strongest non-ideological arguments against the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, to my mind, is the one that Andrew, among others, has frequently marshaled - that putting her in the White House would keep the country mired in the Bush-Clinton civil war that's defined our politics for quite a while now, trapping us all in the political psychodrama of the Baby Boomers for another 4-8 years. The question is whether this sort of reasoning has any resonance with the general public. Matt Continetti, parsing AEI's latest political report, offers reason to think it doesn't:

In September, when ABC News / Washington Post pollsters asked respondents whether they approved of Bill Clinton's presidential job performance, 66 percent approved and 32 percent disapproved. Furthermore, when those pollsters asked whether respondents were "comfortable with the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House," 60 percent said yes, they were comfortable, while 30 percent said they were uncomfortable.

I'm pretty sure those numbers would begin to move if the pollsters scanned likely voters in a presidential election. And if the Republican National Committee spent millions on a slew of negative ads reminding the country of Clinton's bad karma. I'm just not sure how much the numbers would move - or in what direction.

Still, as it stands, about two-thirds of the country wouldn't mind if Clinton were back. Republicans to whom I've talked have long thought that if people realize that a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean the return of Bill Clinton and all of his, you know, baggage, then those people would not want Hillary Clinton to become president. Maybe that's not quite true.

If you followed politics religiously, as everyone who writes about politics for a living does, the Clinton years were a poisonous and depressing era in American history, and another Clinton term sounds like an enormously wearying prospect. But of course most Americans don't follow politics religiously; they tuned out the Clinton wars then, and I'm sure they'd be happy to tune out a revival of the Clinton wars now, if putting Hillary in the White House would bring back certain other aspects of the pre-9/11 era. A "back to the Nineties" narrative sounds like a terrible idea if you care about the quality of life inside the Beltway, but I doubt that's nearly as important to most voters as it is to us pundit types.

Photo by Flickr user MarcN used under a Creative Commons license.

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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