Did Bill Cut A Clever 11th Hour Deal?

The last time I witnessed an abrupt 180o  even approaching the magnitude of last night's from Bill Clinton was when Frank Pentangeli suddenly recanted all previous accusations against Michael Corleone at a Senate Committee hearing.  Of course, that was in the movie The Godfather, and Pentangeli's reversal was coerced by the frightening sight of his brother sitting directly beside Michael at the hearing.

Needless to say, Clinton didn't resort to physical threats -- he didn't need to.

Here's a more likely -- albeit somewhat theoretical -- scenario.

Sometime in the past few days -- or weeks -- Bill's people approached Barack's people and produced these 3 documents related to Bill's pending convention appearance:

  • 1. Text of speech one
  • 2. Text of speech two
  • 3. A list of "requests," the fulfillment of which might just convince Bill to deliver speech two rather than speech one.

Given the continued animosity between the camps, it would appear that the proposal was initially less than well-received.

But now, consider these facts:

Less than a mile away from the Pepsi Center and but a few hours before his wife took its stage on Tuesday to deliver a presentation that surely left many questioning whether they were witnessing the nomination of the wrong candidate, Bill made these comments:

"Suppose for example you're a voter and you have candidate X and you have candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything but you don't think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues but you believe that on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom will you vote?

This is the kind of question that I predict -- and this has nothing to do with what's going on now -- but I am just saying if you look at five, 10, 15 years from now, you may actually see this delivery issue become a serious issue in Democratic debates because it is so hard to figure out how to turn good intentions into real changes in the lives of the people we represent."

While many spun it otherwise, the shrewd pol was obviously giving the Obama camp just a taste of how easily he could disrupt the all-important image of Democrat unity by reinforcing the queasy "wrong candidate" feeling his wife was about to elicit.

And then on Wednesday, news broke that the former president would not be attending Obama's acceptance speech when the party moved to Denver's Invesco Field on Thursday.

I doubt I was alone in anticipating a less than inspired speech from the former president.

But it was a surprisingly different Bill Clinton we saw walk out on that stage last night.  All doubt in Obama's credentials had suddenly vanished.  And while Hillary had endorsed, Bill embraced. Where Hillary's praise appeared to encompass Democrats in general, Bill's was unmistakably targeted directly at the candidate.

He obviously delivered speech number two, and it was a trademark Bill Clinton speech: Smooth, elegant, rousing, inspiring, and most of all -- effective. 

But make no mistake about it -- when Bill told the enraptured crowd that Barack Obama was "ready to be president of the United States," what he really meant was that Barack Obama was ready to play ball.

Just what "requests" might the Obama camp have conceded to? Given Bill's undeniable political acumen, who knows?

But I suspect Hillary need no longer fret over her campaign debt and, should Obama prevail, the eventual nomination of Supreme Court Justice Hillary Clinton would likely be hers for the asking.  

And if you'll kindly abide another Godfather reference (this from Part II) -- don't think for a moment that Don Clintone didn't manage to wet his beak just a bit.