The recurring notion that Bill Clinton has a way of publicly messing with his wife’s candidacy got new life Thursday as word spread of his unplanned airport talk with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
The explanation that the two saw each other by chance at the Phoenix airport and chatted — but never about the Hillary Clinton email probe from Lynch’s Justice Department — failed to quell what spin artists call “bad optics.”
Lynch’s husband was present when the ex-president came over to their plane and they spoke.
“Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he’d had in West Virginia,” Lynch told reporters.
So once again, we find the Clintons in the position of telling those of us who are habitually cynical about their ambitions that it is a storm over nothing.
Even Democratic consultant David Axelrod said while he took both participants at their word that the chat was “primarily social,” it was “foolish to create such optics.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he believes Lynch is independent, but “I think she should have steered clear even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
During this campaign, Bill Clinton has been most widely noticed when he raised eyebrows acting as a Hillary surrogate. In one instance, he took off after Bernie Sanders while the Clinton campaign looked to win over his backers.
He mocked Sanders’ main critique of her as: “Anybody that doesn’t agree with me is a tool of the establishment.” And he sniped: “When you’re making a revolution, you can’t be too careful with the facts.” He tossed out the word “sexism.”
The former president also defended his wife’s having used the term “super-predators” in 1996 to describe gang members. Before “Black Lives Matter” protesters, he said at one point, “You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter.”
Maybe his intent and impact in these past instances was to help her. Maybe not. But four presidential terms after he left office, Bill Clinton’s public profile clearly won’t be limited to echoing her stated agenda. The man won’t stop schmoozing, hobnobbing and opining, whether it’s in elite, charitable circles or at an airport out west.