Bill Clinton, 'Global Philanthropist on a Journey to Cure the World’s Ills', Gushes New York Times' Front Page
New York Times reporter Amy Chozick joined Bill Clinton in Rwanda and helped the former president buff up his humanitarian credentials with a front-page story on the eve of his speech to the Democratic National Convention tonight: "Carving a Legacy of Giving (to His Party, Too)."
Bill Clinton could not stop talking about soybeans. Over dinner in Kigali with a handful of longtime political aides and deep-pocketed donors, he recited the price of soy (“It never exceeded $8, and now it’s $16”) and extolled its virtues as a miracle crop (“You can grow it with just a thin layer of topsoil”).
The following day, he and his daughter, Chelsea, took a tour of a future soybean processing plant here, still a red-dirt construction site at the foot of misty green hills. Mr. Clinton swatted a fly out of his eye and predicted that demand would soar. “The Chinese can’t drink milk, so they rely on soy,” he said.
Left out of Chozick's discussion of the frequently testy Clinton-Obama relationship was Ryan Lizza's revelations in the New Yorker on what Clinton supposedly told Ted Kennedy: "A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags."
In conversations, Mr. Clinton frequently gives the sense that he feels as though he is living on borrowed time. And the world that he now inhabits -- the global philanthropist on a journey to cure the world’s ills and burnish his legacy -- is far from the muddy terrain of partisan politics that he will return to on Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention.
In a speaking slot typically reserved for the vice president, Mr. Clinton will place Mr. Obama’s name into nomination. The invitation serves as a reminder of how far Mr. Clinton has come in four years to refurbish his image and restore his frayed relationship with the Democratic Party after Mr. Obama defeated his wife in the 2008 presidential primary campaign. And it shows how much Mr. Obama has come to rely on a predecessor he once criticized to serve as both role model and validator.
For many Democrats, Mr. Clinton’s renewed stature and his appeal to rural and white working-class voters, a vital group that Mr. Obama has struggled to connect with, make him both an ally of the current administration and a constant reminder of its political shortcomings.
Chozick had some entertaining anecdotes:
While traveling, Mr. Clinton frequently invokes his own time in office, peppering speeches with phrases like “in the 1990s” and “when I was president.” He loves defending his foreign policy record so much that aides have turned it into a verb. “You got Black Hawked” means that Mr. Clinton cornered you, waved a long finger and defended at length his administration’s decision to intervene in Somalia.
But she went overboard with the strained fawning:
He likes to use the Zulu greeting sawubona (“I see you”) when he is traveling in parts of southern Africa, and he often received the response ngikhona (“I am here”). It is that sort of personal connection that helped him lure rural and working-class voters back to the Democratic Party in 1992, and it is that touch that many political analysts say Mr. Obama lacks, a perceived gap that Mr. Clinton said he had tried to help with.