Bill Clinton's subtlety not lost, Democrats should take note

Bill Clinton's subtlety not lost, Democrats should take note
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President Clinton’s recent New York Times book review of Ron Chernow’s towering new biography of Ulysses Grant was revealing not only for what it said about Grant, but for what it said about current day politics, President Trump, and the former president’s wife, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton5 things to watch in the Democratic debates Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt Mellman: Are primary debates different? MORE. The review made clear that Grant’s values, particularly political conciliation and unifying the country, were essential to the country’s future after the Civil War, yet are not emphasized in a similar fashion today.

President Clinton highlighted the empathy that Grant “felt toward the defeated and downtrodden,” and how after the Civil War, his terms to the losing side had “no tinge of malice.” When Grant took office, he “knew that if the country had any chance of being brought back together, it needed something other than a harsh peace.”

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Further, Clinton made sure to point out that Grant emphasized taking the “long view” in the Reconstruction Era, as he made “national healing a priority.” Regardless of his flaws and the missteps that blemished his administration, President Grant formulated an inclusive, non-polarizing agenda of inclusion that ensured the country could move forward after the war.

Clinton’s review was methodical and unambiguous. As he writes, “in so many ways Grant comes to us now as much a mirror as a history lesson,” it is clear that he had the Washington establishment and two individuals in mind: President Trump and his wife, Secretary Clinton.

Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonImpeaching the president: At what cost, and by what method? The Evergreen State and the soul of the Democratic Party Biden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility MORE, of course, would not ever publicly criticize his wife, nor should he. While there has been speculation on the internet that President Clinton did not approve of Hillary Clinton’s latest book, he has not publicly criticized his wife’s positioning.

However, what he has written provides clear evidence that his approach to politics and civic life remains different from that which his wife arguably took during the campaign and certainly has afterward. To be sure, it is hard to see Bill Clinton writing a book like “What Happened” and in fact he never did.

Throughout 2017, unpopularity, scandals, and division have plagued the Trump presidency. Uncannily similar to the Grant presidency, white supremacist groups have returned to the forefront and our country’s deepest socioeconomic issues have divided us by region.

Despite numerous opportunities, President Trump has done little to unify the country or promote our shared commitment to liberty, equality, and freedom of speech. In terms of his wife’s role in this dilemma, President Clinton’s review offers a thinly veiled criticism of Hillary Clinton’s actions and rhetoric since losing the 2016 election.

Rather than serve as a “steady and courageous example” for the country as Grant did during the early stages of the Reconstruction Era, Hillary Clinton has laid out excuse after excuse for her loss, only adding to the tumult and division that presently plagues our nation.

Stuck in this purgatory at Hillary Clinton’s behest, the Democratic Party’s future outlook is increasingly dim. Above all, the Democratic Party must heed President Clinton’s advice from his review of Chernow’s work and emulate President’s Grant’s example.

Notwithstanding significant fractures in the Republican leadership in Washington and a marked inability to pass a unified legislative agenda, Democrats in Congress have completely failed to put together an alternative agenda of their own.

It is my recommendation that this agenda center on unifying the country and making inroads with the financial and business communities. If such steps are not taken, the party will not only fail to gain substantive support in 2018 without an alternative agenda, but it may be permanently relegated to minority status.

The Democratic Party must take serious note of the vast and complicated fight ahead of our country, which may very well leave the integrity of our democracy hanging in the balance, and commit itself to forming a more perfect union as President Clinton recommends and President Grant would do.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”