In the summer of 1996, as he prepared to turn 50—and win a second term in the White House—Bill Clinton took to musing aloud that he now had “more yesterdays than tomorrows.” If that sentiment seemed maudlin for a man still in the prime of life, it was rooted in fact: The men in Clinton’s family died young—his birth father at 28, his stepfather at 59.
Today, Clinton turns 73, having exceeded Psalm 90’s allotted three-score years and 10, and having survived impeachment, open-heart surgery, and more than enough personal and political scrapes to exhaust nine lives, much less one. Unless he lives to 150, the 42nd president really does have more yesterdays than tomorrows. But what should have been these golden years are turning out to be leaden.
Clinton is not quite a full-on pariah in the modern Democratic Party—the one he did so much to reshape and rebuild. But some of his signature policies are the butt of attacks by the current crop of Democratic contenders, and the sitting president has floated the utterly unproven conspiracy theory that Clinton may have had something to do with the jailhouse death of Jeffrey Epstein, the serial sex trafficker whose company he once kept.
Clinton’s checkered past with women—his acknowledged infidelity and serious allegations of predation—left him sidelined as a surrogate in last year’s midterms, too toxic to raise money or stump for candidates in the #MeToo era. He is no longer the party’s reigning “Secretary of Explaining Stuff,” as Barack Obama famously dubbed him. It seems more than likely that he won’t have a prime speaking slot at next summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee—if he appears at all.