Is Vince Gray borrowing Bill Clinton‘s political strategy?
Gray’s attorney, Robert Bennett, was one of Clinton’s lawyers during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Alleged shadow campaigns and acknowledged Oval Office blow jobs are, of course, two very distinct balls of wax, but it’s interesting to peruse through some old Clinton-era clips and find similarities to Gray’s current situation.
At the peak of Clinton’s troubles, for instance, there were tensions between the president’s lawyers and his political advisers on how to handle the crisis. Per a 1998 article in the New York Times:
… Mr. Clinton’s legal and political advisers have clashed throughout the week over his defense. His political aides have pressed for Mr. Clinton to answer lingering questions in either a news conference or a group interview. They wanted Mr. Clinton to move quickly to try to calm the controversy so it will not completely overshadow the President’s State of the Union address Tuesday. But after sometimes pointed internal debates, Mr. Clinton’s lawyers today prevailed …
Gray noted recently that Bennett has kept him mostly muzzled in responding to the allegations made by federal prosecutors that Gray’s 2010 campaign was a hive of corruption.
“My makeup, my propensity really is to talk, and talk as extensively as I can about issues, so this is not really consistent with who I am,” Gray said.
Gray also appears to be borrowing from the Clinton playbook, which includes trying to keep as busy as possible in the middle of a crisis (though LL is not sure whether Gray will be able to launch missile attacks on faraway places). Hizonner has been keeping a very active public schedule in an (so far unsuccessful) effort to change the story.
Clinton’s old adviser Paul Begala says that during the darkest days of the Lewinsky affair, the White House tried to hold close to as normal schedule as possible. He told PBS:
This gets back to the fundamental lesson of political survival that Bill Clinton taught me, which is if you make it about the American people’s lives instead of your life, you’re going to be okay. … I wanted to make sure that the people had the sense that Clinton was not focused on this Lewinsky scandal entirely. [It] obviously was a major preoccupation and an enormous distraction, but the business of the government goes on.
So, yeah, it’s probably a good thing that Gray doesn’t have access to any missiles.
Photo illustration by Brooke Hatfield