Big Dogs

Helpful Context from TPM Reader JM

In 1992, Jimmy Carter was none too impressed with that amoral young DLC-er named Bill Clinton. In 1960, Harry Truman kept pushing for Stevenson over JFK until the convention.

It’s endemic to the former president – new president relationship in an arena with egos the size of small suns. The old president was once the most powerful person in the world, and wants to believe he was the essential savior who showed everyone else the way. The new would-be president can’t very well portray himself as a footnote to the former president’s glory. Kennedy didn’t run to restore Truman, and Clinton sure didn’t run to restore Carter. Why should Obama be any different?

The main difference is that Clinton’s presidency was clearly quite successful in most ways, Clinton’s wife WAS running to restore that old order, and Clinton seems to consider himself the eternal embodiment of how Democrats should run campaigns. He will always and forever act like the Big Dog. Unfortunately, nothing’s going to change that – even if it benefits those who would tear down the substance of Clinton’s legacy.

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