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Brent Budowsky: The magic of Bill Clinton

My theory about how Democrats can win a big victory in the 2016 presidential campaign has long been based on the following.

The most popular American president in many decades is John F. Kennedy. The most popular living former president is Bill Clinton. The most popular public figure in America and the world is Pope Francis. The probability and magnitude of a Democratic victory in 2016 is in direct proportion to the degree that the Democratic nominee, who may well be the first woman president, as Kennedy was the first Catholic president, embodies the spirit of these three historic men.

Far beyond what is reported in heavy-breathing commentaries of the latest news cycle, the most popular living former president is Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon in Campaign 2016.

{mosads}The magic of Bill Clinton, the vast public appeal he continues to enjoy from the American people — which will not be affected a whit by hyperpartisan hearings of the Republican House Benghazi Committee of inquisition — is an incalculable and indescribable asset to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

I often refer to the highly successful and fondly remembered Bill Clinton presidency because it is true and important to understanding the dynamics of the 2016 campaign.

What is historically accurate, and what voters understand, is that the role of Hillary Clinton during the Bill Clinton presidency was integral to the very qualities that made it so successful.

One can refer to the role of Clinton in the presidency of her husband as full partner, deputy president, co-president, most trusted confidante or most influential adviser. Whatever term one chooses to describe her role, she was at the center of the arena, the center of the action, the center of the challenges, the center of the controversies, the center of the achievements and the center of the very successes that give Bill Clinton such towering popularity today.

The magic of Bill Clinton lives on, and it will last forever in the annals of American political history. His legacy as a very good president is cemented by historians and remains alive on the political stage today in the hands of Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton shares that legacy and has extended that legacy in her roles as U.S. senator and secretary of State, with a magnitude of experience that dwarfs any of her potential opponents in 2016 and could lead to the ultimate legacy of any woman — and most men — in the political history of the nation.

Many of the controversies in the news today are legitimate topics for inquiry and debate, but in my eyes, and I predict ultimately in the eyes of most voters, they are small potatoes by comparison to the big stuff. One need not believe the Clintons are perfect to conclude that Hillary Clinton is smart enough, strong enough, tough enough and experienced enough to be a very good and potentially great president.

The passing of the baton from the magic of Bill Clinton to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton makes every GOP candidate look small by comparison until they prove otherwise — and recent events from Republican candidates do not suggest they will.

Let’s conclude with a daring idea. The term of Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general of the United Nations ends in late 2016. I would suggest President Obama consider Bill Clinton to succeed him as secretary-general, in a world that faces great danger from terrorism, profound calls to action from Francis, deadly perils to the environment, an urgent need for more global economic equality and dangerous threats to world peace and security.

Bill Clinton’s achievements and stature as former president and world leader, and the countless good works around the world of the Clinton family through the Clinton Foundation, make him ideally suited for the post.

Do not underestimate how powerfully the magic of Bill Clinton supports the prospect that the words “madam president” may soon take center stage in American public life.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors Blog and reached at

Tags Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton

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