Is Obama Serving Out 'Clinton's Third Term'?

Newt Gingrich says he's hiring former Clinton staffers and making deals that look an awful lot like triangulation

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Is President Obama serving his first term in office--or Bill Clinton's third? Newt Gingrich, talking to Human Events' Jason Mattera, says the latter, pointing to Obama's hiring of Clinton alums to top level positions in the White House. That must sting for all those lefties who fought ferociously to keep Hillary Clinton from winning the 2008 Democratic nomination.

This is what liberals didn't want, Gingrich says. "You're sort of seeing the beginning of the third term of the Clintons because the first two years of Obama was such a failure in popular acceptance." Obama has tapped Jacob Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget, a job he first held 13 years ago. And Obama is  "replacing Rahm Emanuel of Chicago with Bill Daley of Chicago so that Rahm Emanuel can now replace Bill Daley's brother as mayor of Chicago as Daly replaces Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff."

Continued Gingrich: "It's almost a Chicago-machine musical game, and all of it represents an increase in power for Bill Clinton." Is Gingrich on to something? Or just being his classic soundbitey self?

  • Alike in More Ways than One! Slate's Dave Weigel notes. "A Newsweek poll, released at the end of January 1995, testing the electability of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich against President Bill Clinton." Clinton won 51 percent of the vote, Gingrich 31 percent. Fast-forward to 2011: a new NBC News/WSJ poll tests Obama versus Gingrich and finds that Obama would get 54 percent of the vote, Gingrich 35 percent. "A skeptic might wonder whether Gingrich could really win a presidential election," Weigel writes.
  • Classic Newt, Christian Heinze writes at GOP12. "This can't help but remind me of one of my favorite Gingrich quotes (because it's so Newt) from an interview last November. 'One of the reasons that Barack Obama beat Senator Clinton for the Democratic nomination is that the Left has never fully forgiven Bill Clinton for having agreed with me.'"
  • History Repeating, The Hill's Michael O'Brien writes. "Obama's experience mirrors Clinton's to an extent, too. Clinton lost control of the House and Senate to Republicans in his first midterm election, just as Obama lost control of the House to the GOP after two years on the job. Clinton spent much of the rest of his administration pivoting toward the center, and Obama seems to be doing the same."
  • Curious Strategy, Newt  "It seems pretty bad politics," Armando Llorens says at Talk Left, "for an aspiring Republican Presidential candidate to claim that President Obama's tenure in the Presidency is 'Bill Clinton's third term' (Clinton is very popular) but when your prime directive is pissing off liberals, then that's what you do."
  • Triangulation No Longer a Dirty Word, The Nation's Ari Berman argues. Obama hates the word "triangulation" so much that he banned it from the White House. But, Berman says, that hatred
seemed a tad ironic, given that he had packed the White House with insiders from the Clinton administration... Obama's first legislative deal after the election, on the Bush tax cuts, included major concessions to the GOP in a highly Clintonian compromise. ... One could be forgiven for believing that the Clinton era had returned. The parallels between now and then are indeed striking. ... The [tax cut] deal demonstrated how far the pendulum had swung to the right, especially in the wake of George W. Bush's tenure, and raised alarming questions about how Obama planned to govern against the backdrop of a divided Washington. If Obama continues to adopt Republican ideas, what was previously regarded as the center will shift even further to the right.
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